Films can be used for different purposes, either to educate or entertain. Many films incorporate educational content, which is worth to be adapted in a classroom setup. Films have specifically been interrelated with psychology in comparison with the other types of arts, purposely because of their ability to represent reality happening in the social world. Ideas on perception, consciousness and reality can also be explored (Bartel, 1989). This paper will use the film Gone with the Wind, to analyze how psychology has been incorporated in it. It will seek to analyze how the aspect of the psychological theme unfolds throughout the plot of the film.
Gone with the Wind, is set in the 18th century, specifically during the time close to the American Civil War of the 1860’s. When the film starts, Scarlett O’Harra is surrounded by several of her admirers. Her moments of glory are however short-lived. Her father informs her that her cousin, Melanie Hamilton, is soon to be married to Ashley Wilkes. This dampens Scarlett’s mood. Her father continues to tell her that their land and home in Tara are very important. Scarlett is far in thought, and she does not even hear much of her father’s last statements.
The next day, there is a banquet thrown at Twelve Oats. Among the guests attending is Scarlett. The beautiful Scarlett this time is surrounded by even more admirers. However, Scarlett does not even seem to realize that they are present. If she does indeed realize, she is not fascinated by their presence. All her eyes are on the love of her heart, Ashley, who seems to be in love with Melanie. Needless to say, jealousy pangs feel her heart as she watches the two of them together. Scarlet throughout the play attempts a series of trials to win the heart of Ashley but does not succeed. Most men seem to be in love with her, but she refuses to love them back in hope that she will succeed to convince Ashley for a hand in marriage. This does not happen, and she ends up desperately loving Rhett after realizing that her love for Ashley was never to be. When the Civil War starts, there are many unfolding events that result to the death of many people. Melanie, the wife of Ashley, also dies in the process.
During the party, Scarlet shows a sense of fixation as she refuses to venture more to get another lover who would consequently give her the love she needed. She fixes her mind to the extent of psychologically torturing herself. Although there are many men who are interested in her, she refuses to love them back. She only believes that Ashley is the right person who can love her the way she expects. At the party, the concept of the Civil War is discussed. Rhett Buttler tells people that in case of a war, the North would prevail over the South. According to Sigmund Freud, one of the reasons why a female would persist to be married to a male of her choice is due to the condition he referred to as the Electra complex (Freud, 1933). In this case, she may want to marry a character like that of her father, since during the childhood she would not engage in an intimate relationship with her father. This is what is seen in Scarlet, who seems to pursue Ashley though he is deeply in love with Melanie. She totally refuses to love Rhett who offers love for her in hope of winning Ashley during the party. The theme of diversity and anti-social personality disorder is advanced at this stage. Scarlet does not want to be associated with anybody else apart from Ashley. If this concept would be placed in the context of time, there was the challenge of the whites refusing to interact freely with the black Americans. White supremacy dominated in the society of the time.
At the banquet, Ashley uses a defense mechanism to get rid of Scarlet who seems to disturb him. He tells her that the two of them share very little and as such cannot be together. Scarlett is not happy and raises a fuss about it. She even throws a vase across the room to show her displeasure. This is the use of projection, where Scarlet displaces her discomfort to a lesser object. Scarlet is overly obsessed with love for Ashley, showing the obsessive compulsive tendencies. In the process of partying, war is declared, and the men have to prepare to go for war. Parts of the South had started to be attacked. Men in the South rush to be enlisted. Ashley and Charles, Melanie’s younger brother, are among them. To revenge Ashley’s refusal to marry her, Scarlet marries Charles Hamilton as Ashley weds Melanie. This can be seen as a sought of displacement of anger shown by Scarlet. The weeding is held immediately after that of Ashley and Melanie.
It is during the war that Charles Hamilton is reported to have died from an illness. Scarlet suffers from distress and refuses to observe the mourning period and instead attends a party intended to raise funds for the war. Everyone, especially the women in the society, talks about her refusal to mourn her husband’s death and instead attending the party. Rhett finds her again in the party and offers $150 to dance with her and she agrees. From there, he becomes a regular visitor for her although Scarlet does not seem to love him back. She takes this as a convenient plan to console her after the series of events. First, Ashley does not seem to love her. Secondly, her second love has died in the war. However, after the Southerners seem to be losing the war, Scarlet offers herself to work as a nurse in the war. She continues to pursue Ashley. She does not seem to leave her earlier ambitions and desires. When Ashley comes for a brief holiday, Scarlett tries to entice him again.
After a while, the film opens with Scarlett and her family working hard in the cotton fields. The war was already over. The issue of slavery during the times is awakened. Things are not the same in Tara. Things change greatly, and the slaves overturn the rule to favor them. They are forced to share their hard earned food with the confederate soldiers. Scarlett protests to no avail. They have to work on the lands alone without the help of any slaves. Soon, land taxes are raised to $300 by a man who previously worked for Scarlett’s parents in revenge. Scarlett again asks Ashley to elope with her, but Ashley tells her that even if he were to agree, he knows she would not leave due to her love for the land. They continue to cultivate the land themselves without the assistance of the slaves as a plantation required.
Scarlett travels to visit Rhett in prison and ask him for money by tricking him. Rhett realizes the ploy and denies her request. On her way home, Scarlett meets Frank Kennedy. She decides to marry Frank despite the fact that Frank is about to marry her sister Suellen. This is because Scarlett finds out that Frank is rich and he can pay for the taxes. Now back in the land, Scarlett shames Ashley by making him one of her workers. Later, Scarlett is attacked by Hobos. Frank and Ashley lead a revenge mission. Unfortunately, Frank is killed. Rhett after a while asks Scarlett to marry him, and she agrees.
Scarlett is apprehensive, but she goes for a party as proud as ever. Melanie does not even listen to the rumors that Scarlett wants to steal her husband. She walks her from guest to guest and forces all of them to shake her loving sister in law’s hand. She even throws out India, who is Ashley’s sister, for trying to paint Scarlett in bad light. However, Rhett is very hurt. Late the same night, when she goes downstairs, he violently picks her and carries her to her room.
The next day, Rhett departs and goes with Bonnie to London. Bonnie insists that she wants to go back home to be with her mother. Rhett returns her to her mother and promptly declares that he is leaving again. Scarlett tells him that she is pregnant and that she does not intend to bear the baby. Rhett says but cynically that she might have an accident (Walker, 2011). In swift occurrence, she falls all the way down the stairs, and in the fall she loses their unborn baby. Afterwards, Rhett and Scarlett are seen sitting on the porch as they discuss the likelihood of getting back together as they watch Bonnie on her horse. Bonnie tries a jump, and she dies as she falls down after failing to clear a fence. Rhett grieves for her madly and for a time refuses to let his daughter be married.
Melanie is unable to bear the events, and she collapses and dies still carrying their second child. In her death bed, she requests Scarlett to take care of Ashley, their surviving child. She also tells her to be kind to Rhett who is in love with her. Scarlett at that moment realizes that Ashley was so much in love with Melanie as she watched him grieve. It dawns on her that she and Ashley were never meant to be. Scarlett rushes back home to tell Rhett that she is deeply in love with him. Rhett is leaving and she is unable to change his mind. She promises herself to get him back.
The film Gone With the Wind is used to advance the theme of slavery, inequality, and social stratification in a society characterized by racial discrimination. Although some prominent sections have employed psychological themes to explain the happenings that took place, it has not been adequately employed to bring out the issues as they were. The film was developed out of the Civil War period in the 1860’s that saw the Northerners going into war with the Southerners as they pursued their freedom from slavery and exploitation.
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