History and romance intertwined can jump start my heart and send my imagination soaring. Years ago this was the case when I was introduced to the characterization of Scarlett O’Hara in the novel Gone With The Wind. Scarlett, a name like no other. The imagery projected in her name said it all. Feisty and fiery and flirtatious. Conditioned to fit the mores of her time. Scarlett reveled in her charmed and ego centered lifestyle. She never gave serious consideration nor questioned how slavery equipped and fueled the grandiose plantation existence of her beloved TARA. Scarlett’s freedom was defined by Confederate loyalty and to the concept that the South would rise again. Knowing Scarlett was a quiet awakening for me. I marveled of how she thought that with the proper execution of her feminine wiles that life would deliver an outcome of personal entitlement. Since at the time of my introduction to Scarlett I was already familiar with the immorality of slavery, new to me was the demonstration of the discontent of a self-centered existence. Scarlett had some of the trimmings that could have contributed to fulfillment …but she lacked the emotional aptitude to distinguish and recognize true happiness and love. As a reader of Gone With The Wind, if there was to be an epilogue, I imagined that through life experience Scarlett would eventually evolve. The realization that tomorrow was another day would adjust her focus with a new horizon.
Since we were asked to blog about a stand out character name , I did a little Google research to see if I could find out how author, Margaret Mitchell chose to name Scarlett. I wasn’t successful in finding why she chose the name but I did find out that she first chose the name Pansy. The publishing house encouraged her to change the name because it was felt that Pansy would not work. There is no question in my mind that some Editor earned his or her title and pay check for this attempt. It is doubtful.(to me at least) that Pansy would have been remembered as feisty and fiery and flirtatious.
My imagination leads me to believe that when Margaret received the written communication from her publishing firm that there was interest in her novel with the directive to change the main character’s name, she glanced at her bookcase. There it was Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. With careful consideration she added one “t” to scarlet and a character was born. …and frankly, through the years most of us give a damn!