Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rhett Butler vs. Ashley Wilkes

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler
Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes
From Hill Place:
In contrast, as everyone has noted, Rhett is a man of action.  He is a flawed, imperfect person with a rebellious streak who was kicked out of West Point, is not received by any good families in Charleston, and makes his living as a war-profiteering blockade runner.  On the surface, he does not appear to possess the presumed nobility that Ashley is perceived to have, but Rhett proves, through his actions, that he is the man who is truly honorable.  He is the one who pays to retrieve Melanie's wedding ring, after she donated it to help fund the Confederate war effort; has Belle Watling donate gold currency to the Confederate hospital in Atlanta (because he knows Scarlett would never accept the gesture); helps Scarlett escape from Atlanta with Melanie and infant Beau; rescues Ashley and Dr. Meade from a Yankee ambush at the shantytown raid, and provides an alibi for them by taking them to Belle Watling's brothel; allows Scarlett to spend the money to revitalize Tara; and proves to be a good father to their daughter Bonnie.  He might be a hard-drinking, womanizing gambler, but Rhett is a man who is totally pulled-together and who takes care of the people around him.  Unlike Ashley, who doesn't have the guts to reveal his true feelings, Rhett time and time again demonstrates the deepness of his feelings and caring for the people in his life.  He never stops loving Scarlett, even when she continues to disappoint him by loving Ashley, develops strong friendships with Belle Watling, Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) and Melanie, and unabashedly showers his daughter Bonnie with the love and affection that he wishes he could shower on Scarlett, if only she would let him.  (In contrast, we never see Ashley express any genuine caring for his own son Beau, or spend any quality time with him.  Furthermore, the scene where Melanie comes to comfort Rhett after Scarlett's miscarriage is a more insightful moment than the mundane romantic sequence with Ashley and Melanie at the Twelve Oaks barbecue, one of the few scenes the Wilkes's have alone with each another.  In Rhett's presence, Melanie becomes earthier, more self-aware, and more candid discussing the circumstances of all of their lives than we would have expected from her.)  Because Rhett is someone who is willing to put himself and his heart on the line, it must irk him to stand in the same room with the passive and ineffectual Ashley, who remains disconnected from the people and environment around him. (Read more.)

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1 comment:

Helen Davis said...

Thanks for the post! Rhett all the way!