Synopsis of the "Gone With the Wind" Movie's Plot

by Matthew Weeks

"Gone with the Wind" was adapted for the screen from the novel of the same name.

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"Gone with the Wind," the Academy Award-winning 1939 epic film, is a sweeping tale of love and war set against the backdrop of the Southern United States during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. The movies follows the life of Scarlett O'Hara, the indomitable daughter of an Irish plantation owner, as she becomes the mistress of her plantation, a wife and a mother, all while struggling against the trials of the war and its aftermath.


Scarlett O'Hara, one of three daughters of the owner of the large Tara plantation, is secretly in love with Major Ashley Wilkes. The chronically indecisive Wilkes confesses to her that he secretly loves her back at a barbecue in his family home, but that he plans to marry his cousin Melanie, as they are more compatible. Scarlett discovers that her conversation was overheard by the rakish blockade runner Rhett Butler, who is enamored with Scarlett's willful nature. Rhett promises to say nothing about the encounter.

War Breaks Out

The barbecue is interrupted with the announcement that war has broken out between the North and the South. Melanie's brother, Charles Hamilton, hastily asks for Scarlett's hand in marriage before he leaves to fight in the war. Scarlett reluctantly accepts his proposal. The war goes very badly for the South, and Hamilton dies from pneumonia, leaving Scarlett a widow. Eight months later, Scarlett and Melanie are forced to flee Atlanta for the plantation, as the city is under siege by the Union army. She finds it intact but deserted. Her mother dies and her father's mind begins to crumble, leaving her resolved to take over management of the family's affairs.

Rhett Returns

Scarlett cannot pay the rising taxes levied on her plantation and calls upon Rhett Butler, who agrees to give her management of his entire personal fortune in exchange for marriage. She agrees, and eventually gives birth to a daughter, Bonnie. Scarlett is distressed by the changes in her life, and tells Rhett she will no longer share a bed with him. After rumors surface that Scarlett and Ashley Wilkes are having an affair, Rhett angrily carries Scarlett, kicking and screaming, up to the bedroom, to which Scarlett ultimately reacts with guilty pleasure.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

The relationship between Rhett and Scarlett continues to be stormy, and a physical argument causes her to miscarry their second child. Bonnie then dies shortly afterwards in a horse riding accident, causing Scarlett to blame Rhett. Melanie suffers a fatal miscarriage of her second child, asking Scarlett to look after Ashley on her deathbed. Ashley's grief forces Scarlett to realize that he never truly loved her. Scarlett attempts to reconcile with Rhett, only to find him in the midst of packing his bags to leave for good. Scarlett resolves to return to her plantation and figure out how to win him back, remarking that, "after all, tomorrow is another day."

About the Author

Matthew Weeks has been a public policy and technology writer since 2003. He has been published on Men's News Daily and Free Republic. Weeks holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the College of New Jersey and a master's degree in public policy from Rutgers.

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