Gone with the Wind
An Astrological Work of Art
Aries – Cancer
*This series is dedicated to my mother Patricia Kronen Lilley both on Mother’s Day, May 13th and on her birthday, May 22nd who made sure the first motion picture I saw in a movie theater at the age of 6 was David O. Selznick’s “Gone with the Wind”.
“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” the Southern belle exclaims as she lifts her fist while tightly gripping a mangled, half rotten carrot/radish/turnip defiantly towards the Heavens. Upon stating her right to be alive, dawn breaks and the sun begins to rise in the Eastern sky behind her as the camera pulls back and the film’s musical leitmotif majestically swells into triple forte.
Memorable words from one of the most memorable scenes in all of film history that takes place at the half-way point within the 4 1/2 hour cinematic epic known as “Gone with the Wind”.
The film which won the Academy Award for “Best Motion Picture” for 1939 was based on the novel by the same title. Nearly everyone who read the tale by the life-long Atlanta native, Margaret Mitchell presumed “Gone with the Wind” was a fictionalized historical novel which focused on the Civil War Era. Few realize the one and only work published by Mitchell is an astrological piece as well, where astrology is subtly interwoven throughout the story’s plot.
It is the astrological dynamics brought to life through the relationships established by the story’s main cast of characters that make this film truly great, despite the novel’s historical inaccuracies and naively idealistic perspective about the antebellum South.
The Behemoth Begins
At its earliest stages, when the novel “Gone with the Wind” was in the process of being transformed into a major motion picture, it seemed destined to be an epic failure when shooting first began.
Throughout most of the 1930’s every up and coming movie being made had to submit its screenplay before the government appointed censorship board which enforced a strict policy of not allowing films to be released that contained even the slightest bit of profanity or risque behavior. After submitting the film’s first draft of a screenplay, Gone with the Wind’s (GWTW) producer David O. Selznick was stunned to discover the film’s most famous line delivered by the male lead “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” had been changed to “My dear, frankly I don’t care.” due to the profane nature of the line’s last word. The line was allowed back into the script as originally written only after Selznick convincingly begged the board that the word “damn” was a “vulgarism” and not a direct expression of profanity.
Selznick purchased the filming rights to Margaret Mitchell’s novel in 1936 and at that time was initially unsure of who was going to play the gargantuan lead role of Scarlett O’Hara.
This would still be the case even after filming had begun in December of 1938.
Searching for Scarlett
Selznick had auditioned nearly every one of Hollywood’s A-list and up-and-coming actresses for the lead role of Scarlett O’Hara, and none were to his liking. A roster which included:
Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, Clara Bow, Ginger Rogers, Paulette Goddard, Barbara Stanwyck, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Joan Fontaine, Alice Faye, Dorothy Lamour, Myrna Loy, Merle Oberon, Gail Sondergaard, Jane Wyman, Loretta Young, and Mae West
Just to name a few….
As 1938 was drawing to a close, Selznick not only had to start the filming process, it had to be done in accordance with the fire laws and mutual cooperation from every local fire department in the overall vicinity being on hand, given the first scene to be shot was the burning of Atlanta. The destruction by fire of the Old Southern city was to be re-created in a 40 acre back lot in Culver City. Standing in for the Georgian city being lit ablaze were the massive sets from earlier movies such as “King Kong”, “Little Lord Fountleroy”, and the main set from Cecil B. De Mille’s silent film Biblical extravaganza “King of Kings”. Stunt doubles were used to play the main characters of Rhett and Scarlett as they made their treacherous way through the emblazoned city via horse drawn carriage with the camera showing only their backs and covered faces.
The Skull Island set of King Kong crashes and burns in the background to re-create the fiery blaze of Civil War Atlanta on December 10th, 1938
With the old sets being torched, the filming of Gone With The Wind had officially begun, and still the story’s central character whom the entire plot revolved around had yet to be cast.
But it was on that very same night that David O. Selznick’s brother, Myron, a talent agent in both Hollywood and London approached him on the director’s platform saying “Hey genius, here’s your Scarlett O’Hara.” He then moved aside for his brother to be introduced to the young British actress Vivien Leigh. And here is where our astrological tale unfolds.
The mystical wonder just beneath the surface of the Civil War epic extends beyond merely the author’s amused fascination with the Zodiac. There are cosmic indications that go beyond Margaret Mitchell’s side interest in astrology which make her tale in many ways Zodiacally archetypal. This does not apply to all 12 signs, however. Mitchell overtly had her biases and clear likes and dislikes of certain signs but when stepping back from the intricacies of the novel and film’s plot we are able to see the overall influence of astrology at work as a whole.
The first of these cosmic indications was the night when David O. Selznick realized he had finally found the right person to play the lead role of Scarlett O’Hara in his film. The actress who played the Southern heroine in the film version of GWTW was Vivien Leigh, a British actress who had just arrived in Hollywood for the first time the night she was introduced to Selznick.
Leigh was born beneath the only sign of the Zodiac that has dual representation. The sign of Scorpio is represented by the Scorpion but also by the mythic creature known as the Phoenix. In ancient legend the Phoenix was a bird with a very defined shelf life. When the time came for it to die, the Phoenix would sacrifice itself by throwing its body into the closest fire or assembly of burning flames. However when this took place, a new life form emerged from the animal’s ashes – a firebird that through the process of death had been transformed into a divine being that was immortal.
Myron Selznick had hypothesized when the lighting from the burning of Atlanta’s fires would be optimal to introduce his talent discovery to his brother. Knowing of David’s strict adherence to stay true to the original text whenever involved in the filming of a well loved piece of literature, Myron had Vivien’s eye make up done in a sharp, angular manner and insisted she heavily use green eye shadow to frame her natural eye coloring of light blue, since Mitchell’s novel introduces the character of Scarlett O’Hara with the following:
“Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin.”
Myron also told Leigh her hat could only be black and preferred she wear a full length dark coat to which she wore her full length mink. He knew that introductions could not be made when the flames were at full capacity which could risk her first impression being washed out. Rather, he arrived on the back lot with Vivien at 11PM when the majority of the inferno had died down but while the skies were still a vibrant bright red. With her long brimmed black hat and shoulder length black hair, David Selznick was given the best rendition of a living Scarlett O’Hara as humanly possible that night. The perfect atmosphere for a person born beneath the sign of the Phoenix to make her most memorable impression. To quote Vivien’s biography “Vivien: The Life of Vivien Leigh” by Alexander Walker:
“Before the fire had died down that night, 10 December, 1938, Vivien had stepped phoenix-like, out of the embers and presented herself to David O. Selznick.”
Believing wholeheartedly in fated meetings (be they orchestrated by one’s siblings or otherwise), David Selznick was later quoted as saying the following about the night he was introduced to Leigh:
“I took one look and knew that she was right.”
Even here, we must step back to realize how irrational seeming this spontaneous decision truly was. After holding a nation wide search throughout America called “Searching for Scarlett” along with testing every big named actress in town, the decision as to who would play this mythic American heroine was a foreign woman who was an unknown to American film audiences and who had never even set foot in Hollywood before filming the part?
Not surprisingly one of the toughest groups in the country Selznick had to convince about his decision were “The Daughters of the Confederacy” who at first adamantly opposed a foreigner playing the role of Scarlett O’Hara. Here again Selznick’s cunning came into play when he responded that because they were so upset over the decision to use Vivien Leigh, he had better fall back on his original intention of using Connecticut born actress Katherine Hepburn to play the part.
“Better the British play the role than a Yankee.” they replied, subsequently giving their unanimous approval.
The existence of Scorpio’s planetary ruler which resides in the furthest reaches of our Solar System, Pluto, was only made known to we human folk a mere 8 years prior to Leigh and Selznick’s fated meeting. Before 1930, Scorpio’s “ancient” planetary ruler not only was much closer to Earth, Mars had dual rulership over both the sign of the Scorpion as well as the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries. Mars is also called the “Red” planet and another word for the color red is “scarlet”.
It seemed to cosmicly fall into place that an actress born beneath the sign of Scorpio whose ancient planetary ruler is Mars was chosen to portray the iconic lead who is the archetypal representative of the first sign of the Zodiac, Mars ruled Aries.
Since nearly every aspect of the Civil War Epic revolves around her character, a single visual of the story’s heroine Scarlett O’Hara simply wasn’t fittin’. Following the iconic image of child like innocence shown above the Aries representative of our story is best analyzed in various shades of Martian red. Many don’t realize that the range of time in which the entire plot of Gone with the Wind takes place is just 12 years in total. When we first come across the film’s leading lady she is still very much a teenager being 16 years old at the barbeque at Twelve Oaks plantation ( A reference to the 12 signs of the Zodiac).
Keeping in mind the sign of Aries is ruled by Mars, the planet named after the ancient Roman god of War, it stands to follow the very first line that Scarlett O’Hara says in the film deals with War, itself.
“War, war, war. This war talk is spoiling all the fun at every party this spring.”
And speaking of Spring, not only is that the time of year when the sign of Aries takes place, it’s also a time traditionally associated with birth and growth when the Northern Hemisphere is covered in green. Before the War, Scarlett is best remembered for her girlish youth and boundless energy by being dressed in virginal white framed in silk and velvet bows and ribbons of a rich sumptuous green.
It’s only when Scarlett is forced to learn about the world through the harsh realities of War that the true color of the Aries is brought out in full technicolor glory:
After all, what’s Scarlett without scarlet?
As stated earlier, the sign of Aries planetary ruler is Mars, the heavenly body also known by the name “the Red Planet.” and the beauty of this tempestuous character of ultra self concern could not be brought out any better than in an evening gown of the deepest scarlet.
The first representative of the Zodiac by virtue of its fiery element and aggressively war like planetary ruler is considered to be of an inherently masculine nature and although she’s a Southern belle that has every beau in the county fawning after her, Scarlett O’Hara is no lilting magnolia flower that’s easily pushed aside. And as with nearly every Aries woman, God help you if you try to tell her what to do. Although raised to be well mannered and lady-like, Miss Scarlett is very much in touch with the manly aggression which lays just beneath the surface of her hyper-feminine exterior.
My favorite Arien line showing Ms. O’Hara ain’t afraid to fight if pushed into a corner takes place when she’s a wealthy, well established business woman making the rounds for her lumber business on her own in Shantytown, a place teeming with vagrants and desperate men with no work and nowhere else to go. As she drives through this danger zone, her horse and buggy are suddenly cut off from crossing a bridge by two very large stragglers with one grabbing her horse by the mouthpiece. Instead of cringing with fear and screaming for outside help, Scarlett stands up and says the following in a monotone manner through clenched teeth indicating the Aries is seething with rage:
“Let go of my horse.”
….before hitting the vagrant square in the face with her riding whip.
Prior to this violent altercation, Scarlett is questioned about riding alone through Shantytown. Her response is thoroughly Arien in essence when she takes a pistol out of her purse saying:
“I can shoot straight, as long as it’s not far.”
Not only can the Aries lady fend for herself, she’s not afraid to use a gun, which was unheard of at the time. The weapon’s essence of being a tool of war and comprised of the Mars ruled mineral of Iron make Scarlett’s response completely natural when realizing it’s being said by a person born beneath the first sign of the Zodiac.
There are those choice times when Scarlett wears her astrological color in its more traditional tone:
Whether done intentionally or otherwise, the Southern heroine wears red during those scenes that reveal her true Aries nature. Aries is an action oriented sign that doesn’t put on airs, what you see with those born beneath this sign is what you get. In the picture above, Scarlett’s family has just found out that she has stolen very rich and very old Frank Kennedy from her sister Sue Ellen and has married him strictly for his money just to pay taxes for Tara. Sue Ellen can be heard wailing in the background as Scarlett sits looking a little frustrated and a hair embarrassed in a full silk dress of bright red. She doesn’t protest her sister’s accusations of being a gold digger nor does she come up with any excuses to explain her behavior. The Aries did what she had to do. That’s that and nothing more needs to be said.
Along with aggression and violence the planet Mars also rules over the very physical act of sex and once again Scarlett shows her true colors when the matter presents itself:
It’s during those rare times when Scarlett doesn’t need to wear any high societal mask of pretense that we see her wearing red in its most basic tone. The typical Aries concerns themselves only with things which revolve around their basic needs and towards the latter part of the film Scarlett has developed a basic need to drink hard liquor in the late night hours after all parties dwelling in her palatial manor have retired for the evening. Martian red incites aggression, violence, and one other thing we see next to nothing of throughout the entire film – sex. All three vices are represented in the scene when a well intoxicated Rhett stumbles upon his wife’s late night drinking binge. Once again when faced with the very real threat of her inebriated husband wrapping his hands around her head saying he could crush her skull like a walnut, Scarlett doesn’t recoil in fear, instead the Aries bravely stands her ground saying:
“Take your hands off me, you drunken fool.”
Rhett responds by removing his hands from his wife’s head only to lift Scarlett’s entire body up off the floor in his arms, up the red carpeted palatial staircase, and straight to the boudoir where the viewer wonders if she will make it out alive by morning.
Cut to the next morning where Scarlett is in the boudoir, still under the covers, and humming loudly away in a state of relaxed contentment. Clearly the lady had just as good a time in the bedroom as her overcome with lust husband.
There needn’t be any other indication that Scarlett O’Hara the Aries is just as much a sexual being as any red-blooded American male.
Returning once more to those basic human needs…
In completion of astrologically analyzing Scarlett O’Hara as the archetypal representative of the sign of Aries, we come full circle to this piece’s opening scene once more but this time around with a bit more dialogue. Scarlett finally returns to her family home after fleeing from Atlanta and crossing into enemy territory where she manages to narrowly avoid herself, her servant, a sick woman and the woman’s very hungry newborn from being captured by the encroaching Union armies as well as from being blown to bits by their artillery shells. When she arrives at Tara she sees that her home is still standing despite the Yankees having burned a good portion of the plantation’s main house down. She comes inside only to discover her mother has died the day before of typhoid fever and her father has subsequently lost his mind and wanders about in a permanent state of dimentia. Having not eaten for days once inside Tara she’s told there’s nothing to eat, that the Yankees have taken everything edible and otherwise.
Scarlett wanders outside into the night, alone and crazed with hunger. Suddenly, clouds in the late evening sky give way to bright moonlight which illuminates the torn up earth that once served as Tara’s gardens. She then sees the aforementioned carrot/turnip/radish left in the dirt. In one swooping motion the former Southern belle snatches what she sees and attempts to eat the rancid vegetable in one bite. To which her body involuntarily reacts by indelicately vomiting back up what she tried to swallow whole. Instinctively, the ravenous girl then instantaneously gobbles back down what she has just regurgitated to quell her starvation.
She then gets up from her knees and proceeds to say the following:
“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
In one sense, the Aries is taking care of her basic need to eat but cosmicly the viewer is being shown so much more than just that. By being reduced to eat regurgitated food that is already partially rancid we are also witness to a human being willing herself to survive and asserting her life force as a living sentient creature on this earth.
If the Universe has provided the Aries a way to survive in her most desperate time of need, then no thing nor no one will stop her from getting what she wants out of life and achieving her highest goals.
Scarlett O’Hara as the archetypal Aries inspires us by simply being her fiery self.
The Zodiacal first representatives of each of the 4 elements are said to embody their element’s energies at their purest state and with Taurus being the first of the Earth signs, things don’t get any earthier than with Scarlett’s father, Gerald O’Hara.
The typical Taurus derives security from any/all of the material possessions they own. These footholds in the material plane can run the gamut from clothes to furniture to stocks/bonds to homes to private jets to one’s baseball card collection and of course the green stuff that Taureans simply go mad cow over – Kudos to those who just answered “Grass” but the answer we were looking for was actually “Money”.
The aforementioned list of material “things” may suffice for the common Cow person, but since we are dealing with the archetypal representative of the first of the Earth signs, Taurus, the only thing in Life that truly has value in Gerald O’Hara’s bovine book? Property. Also known as “Land” which also is interchangeable with the umbrella term “EARTH”.
Not only are “Land” and “Earth” the only things the Earthy portion of our program ever readily talks about, Taurus’ archetypal representative is only seen dressed in that sign’s signature color of Kelly Green.
And as if that wasn’t ultra-earthy enough, the Taurus representative of our story hails from the Taurus ruled country of Ireland, a place euphemistically described in the greenest of terms as “the Emerald Isle”.
In the modern day, the words “real estate” are for the most part synonymous with the term “property”. Tara may be the name of the O’Hara family plantation but when Gerald O’Hara says that singular, two syllabled word he is implying much more than merely just the actual house, itself. That one word involves the acreage and farmland surrounding the house, the trees, shrubbery and flora on that acreage which surrounds the house, etc. earthy etcetera.
Who else would say the following Earth signed Credo to Scarlett:
“Do you mean to tell me Katie Scarlett O’Hara that Tara, that land doesn’t mean anything to you? Why land is the only thing in the world worth working for .Worth fighting for, worth dying for! Because it’s the only thing that lasts.”
With Gerald O’Hara’s sense of worth focused strictly on just his owned property, it would seem inevitable that the Taurean Irishman falls into a permanent state of, as they say in the movie “turning idiot” when War descends upon the land and the Yankees descend upon Tara.
And when the Yankees seize the Taurus’ property along with all of his material assets, Life no longer holds any worth nor has any sense of permanence to him. For not too long after Gerald O’Hara loses his material assets does this Man of the Earth take his permanent leave from the land he so dearly loves.
Despite his demise, it is the Taurus’ Earthy Credo that motivates Scarlett to not only continue living but to regain and eventually rebuild Tara into land that’s worthy of her father’s blessing.
Aunt Pittypat, Mrs. Meade, Dolly Merriwether, & Prissy
The archetypal nature of things gets downgraded to the petty and the personal when it comes to representation of the first of the Air signs better known as Gemini. Here we have not one but a slew of characters all of the female persuasion talkin’ up a mountain’s worth of a whole lotta nuthin’. Clearly Margaret Mitchell had a keen disregard for the sign known for its gift of gab since only the most unevolved behavior traits are displayed by the various women deemed to be Geminis.
All four ladies spend nearly every moment of their screen time gabbing their motor mouths away in triple speed but the ever constant word noise adds up to nothing more than a whole lot of empty wind. We’ll split the four free talking females into two separate groups: Geminis with stock babble phrases and Geminis without. We’ll begin with the former:
Stock Babble Phrase (s):
1.) “My smellin’ salts! Where are my smellin’ salts?!”
2.) “I simply am going to faint!”
You too would be on the constant hunt for any kind of reviving remedy if you were even the slightest bit like Aunt Pittypat, given the old flibbety-gibbet of a Gemini is in constant danger of hitting the ground cold due to there being a total absence of air intake from all her incessant babbling. As a Gemini power gabber, it appears that not only is Aunt Pittypat’s job to be constantly talking about the least important of nit-picky nothings, she does so during the most critically serious of times. As Doctor Meade manages to put together a horse and buggy along with a driver so that she and her niece Scarlett can flee Atlanta from the ever- approaching Yankee artillery shells, Aunt Pitty abruptly puts a halt on the whole “fleeing for one’s life” process by inquiring if someone planned on locking the front door and that if Scarlett opts to stay in Atlanta it simply wouldn’t be proper without an accompanying chaperone. This in turn prompts Dr. Meade to yell in exasperation:
“Good Heavens, woman! This is war not a garden party!”
Causing a brief few moments of some much needed silence.
Stock Babble Phrase:
“I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ babies!”
No one has a clue as to why scatterbrained babbler Prissy hints of being well experienced in the field of midwifery but it embodies the typically unevolved Gemini’s penchant for embellishment along with that sign’s tendency to say things which are blatantly untrue (aka out and out lie). That is all subjectively according to Margaret Mitchell, because as GWTW’s author sees it – when a Gemini spends their day talkin’ about a whole lot of nuthin’, what difference does it make if it’s true or not?
Besides it must feel really nice to say you have extensive obstetrics experience even if you don’t know what the word obstetrics even means?
Unlike Aunt Pittypat, a juxtaposing effect occurs with Prissy’s rate of Gemini power babble. It seems the faster that Gemini talks, the slower and more lugubrious her motions become, especially so if she is in the middle of an assigned work task.
Mrs. Meade & Dolly Merriwether
The two favorite topics of discussion for the unevolved Gemini personality are small talk and gossip. When looking at the author of Gone with the Wind from the perspective of being an upper class Atlanta socialite, one can only imagine how Margaret Mitchell must have been exposed to more than her fair share of the two most unproductive forms of communication human beings can exchange between one another. And what a startling coincidence! The two things a person born beneath Ms. Mitchell’s birth sign of Scorpio despise most just happen to be small talk and gossip.
With the exception of one scene, Doctor Meade’s gossipy wife Caroline and the overbearing nosy widow, Dolly Merriwether are always together on screen and they not only represent the shallow and vapid behavior of the unevolved Gemini, these two upper crust busy bodies serve as Small Talk and Gossip, personified.
It must be noted the one scene in which Mrs. Small Talk and Mrs. Gossip are not physically together is when the townsmen convene at night to hold a vigilante meeting but are ambushed. Rather than the men being arrested and possibly executed for their subversive actions by Yankee police, Rhett Butler ushers them into the brothel of his old friend Belle Watling, allowing them to have an alibi for their whereabouts. The men return home posing as a group of happy but messy drunkards as they make their way to the Wilkes’ house. Once inside, it’s only then revealed that Ashley isn’t inebriated but has been shot and bleeding badly. As Doctor Meade searches for make shift instruments to stop Ashley’s profuse bleeding, Mrs. Meade pulls her husband aside and practically salivating with anticipation, demands he provide gossipy details about the brothel’s interior:
“Were you really there? What did it look like? Does she have cut-glass chandeliers, plush curtains and dozens of mirrors?”
And like Aunt Pittypat’s garden party, the good Doctor puts things back into realistic perspective for his gossipy Gemini wife when he interrupts her interrogation saying:
“Good heavens, Mrs. Meade, remember yourself!”
Gossip has no loyalties. In fact, like the sign of Gemini’s astrological quality of “Mutable” the pettiness of gossip and its lack of adherence to the truth make it a mutable and ever changing thing based on the general bias of the public. Mrs. Meade and Dolly Merriwether have plenty of initial bad mouthing and rumor spreading early on concerning Scarlett and Rhett but when the couple becomes immensely wealthy and a staple part of Atlanta’s Post-War Nouveau Riche, the two gossips can’t say enough sycophantic sweet talk about Mr. and Mrs. Butler.
Much like her portrayal of the Yankee soldiers as a whole, Ms. Mitchell had not a single good thing to say about the first of the Air signs and seems to have based her Gemini characters on the petty behaviors of an unpleasant few from personal experience.
One scene in particular captures the above sentiments quite succinctly. Caroline Meade and Dolly Merriwether are discussing in the most saccharine of language what a doting father Rhett Butler is to his little daughter, Bonnie. Dolly then informs Caroline that her 6 year old grandson, Napoleon Picard will be hosting a birthday party for Bonnie Butler the following weekend to which Mrs. Meade retorts that Dolly knew perfectly well she herself was throwing a birthday party for Bonnie Butler that very same weekend and demands that she reschedule her grandson’s soiree. The two then proceed to power argue in triple speed with both screeching over the other at the same time. They talk themselves into such a frenzy, that words can no longer be understood as their barrage of insults transforms into the literal clucking of angry hens fighting over the tiniest speck of chicken feed.
The highly insignificant and vapid banter between two Geminis….at least according to an author whose portrayal of that sign is just as base and equally petty.
Melanie Hamilton Wilkes
We return to our archetypal high horse once more upon dealing with the first of the Water signs, Cancer and leaving low brow pettiness behind with the previous sign of Gemini.
Of the entire cast of Gone with the Wind as well as out of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, Cancer is the only sign where the actor playing its archetypal representative was indeed born beneath that very same sign as well. And the role of Melanie Hamilton Wilkes could not be more perfectly portrayed than by the Cancerian actress who is the only living member left of the entire production of GWTW, the astounding Olivia de Havilland.
The Water signs are emotionally and intuitively based and although the Cancer is an entirely different astrological being than the Aries, the first of the Water signs is as equally strong as the first of the Fire signs but in ways that are not overt and deceivingly subtle.
In 1934, 18 year old Olivia de Havilland was still in the process of deciding whether to pursue becoming an actress or a school teacher when she was offered a 5 year contract with Warner Brothers Studios. What seemed to be a dream come true for the naturally talented actress with the strikingly wholesome good looks would soon enough prove to be a gilded covered nightmare of legality in disguise, most especially when casting began for GWTW in 1938.
The typical contracted actor during Hollywood’s Golden Age was limited by “type”. Olivia de Havilland was contracted by Warner Brothers to portray two types of ingénue, or innocent young girl roles – the perpetually good-natured girl next door and/or the brainless ditz.
Not only did the President of Warner Brothers forbid Olivia de Havilland from acting out of “type” when the actress approached him about playing the role of “Melanie”, Jack Warner refused in no uncertain terms to loan de Havilland out to MGM regardless if she landed the part or not.
With the sign of the Crab’s watery foundation and association with motherhood and nurturing, Cancer is considered one of the most feminine of signs. Sensing from her core how right the role of Melanie fit her sensibilities, Olivia de Havilland took an altogether different approach to securing the part. Rather than fighting Jack Warner “mano a mano”, the Crab born actress dropped her war waging gauntlet by turning away from the combative masculine and taking a risk with the diplomatic feminine.
In other words, instead of arguing for the role with a man tit for tat, the Cancerian actress circumvented aggression altogether by wielding her feminine intuition and appealing to that same man’s wife, namely Jack Warner’s spouse, Anne.
Jack Warner would later recall:
“Olivia, who had a brain like a computer concealed behind those fawn-like eyes, simply went to my wife and they joined forces to change my mind.”
The sign of the Crab deals predominantly with the following areas of Life: Mothering, Home, and Family. Nurturing isn’t only an inherent trait of the typical Cancerian, male or female, it’s a bonifiable need for these folk. If a Cancer is emotionally bonded to a person they will nurture or “mother” them, regardless if they are related by blood or not. It is because of this strong need to nurture that Cancer is euphemistically called the “Mommy sign”.
“Melanie was someone different…The main thing is that she was always thinking of the other person, and the interesting thing to me is that she was a happy person … loving, compassionate.”
– Olivia de Havilland
It must be stated that Melanie is the only character in GWTW who has no enemies and whom everyone gets along with all because of her genuinely caring, maternal nature. To emphasize how foundationally important motherhood is to Cancer’s archetypal representative, consider the following baby bearing film facts:
The delivery of Scarlett’s first baby occurs somewhere off camera and we don’t actually see the child with the exception of a few cameos with Rhett while a baby until she’s about 5 or 6 years old. The delivery of Melanie’s first child takes up nearly a quarter of the first half of the film and the viewer is there not just for the birthing. We get to see Melanie’s first born son Beau as a newborn, then a toddler, and eventually reach Bonnie Butler’s age of 5 or 6.
As the archetypal representative of the sign of Cancer, having children is what Miss Mellie lives for …..and dies for as well.
When Melanie informs Rhett she is going to have a second child, he begs her not to let the pregnancy go to full term since she nearly died delivering her first (as we are already more than well aware). And here is where we see the emotional strength of the Water sign when the Cancer replies to his concern:
“Children are life-renewing itself, Captain Butler… and when life does that, danger seems very unimportant.”
Cancer is the home body of the Zodiac and if the Cancerian had it their way all functions would be conducted from out of their own home. This sentiment is captured when just before she slips into an unconscious state, Miss Mellie is able to utter the following:
“Send for Dr. Meade, Mammy… and try… try to get me home.”
As previously mentioned, the Water signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces are emotionally based and housed in the same area of the human brain next to emotion is intuition. And intuition is best felt rather than described…
The power of Cancerian intuition is best seen in the video clip below. The scene takes place after the War has ended and Tara is used as a gathering hub for Confederate soldiers. Scarlett and Melanie are standing on the plantation’s porch when from far off in the distance a scarecrow-thin soldier is spotted hovelling towards the house, causing Scarlett to moan “Oh another one. I hope this one isn’t hungry.”
Melanie maternally steps in to assist and starts to say “I’ll tell Prissy to get an extra plate…..” but then freezes in silence. Her eyes become huge as she takes in a deep breath while clasping at her throat. Before Scarlett can even figure out what’s going on, Melanie takes off like a wild gazelle, power sprinting towards the emaciated soldier since her Cancerian intuition has informed her the limping stick figure who can barely walk is in actuality her husband, Ashley whom they were led to believe was permanently missing in action.
The emotional strength of the Cancer may equal the natural strength of the Aries, but Miss Mellie’s physical stamina is nowhere near Scarlett’s vibrantly strong life force. The character born beneath the Mommy sign dies while in the process of becoming a Mommy a second time.
There are those who theorize that Melanie was fully aware of Scarlett being in love with her husband the entire time and that her caring nature is just a front for her to eventually reek revenge against her sister-in-law when she least sees it coming.
As stated earlier, a person can be “related” to a Cancer even if not by blood. Should the Cancer be emotionally attached to you, you are family to them and Melanie loves Scarlett with an emotional intensity so heart felt, even with being intuitively aware of her sister-in-law’s infatuation with her husband, Miss Mellie is the only person who loves every part of Scarlett O’Hara’s total self.
The remainder of the Zodiac beginning with the sign of Leo and coming to full completion with the sign of Pisces await Brad’s amusingly thorough astrological analysis when applied to the rest of the legendary cast of characters from “Gone with the Wind” in Part II of this series!
*Brad Kronen’s book “Love in the Stars” published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Inc. is available for purchase at your local book seller or online at amazon.com at the link listed below.