"Bad" Mothers: A Comparison of Scarlett O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind and Sethe in Toni Morrison's Beloved

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sandra B Ross (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site: http://www.ecu.edu/lib/

Abstract: Scarlett of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and Sethe from Toni Morrison's Beloved at first seem like two starkly different characters, aside from living during the same period. Scarlett is a white Southern belle, while Sethe, a black woman, is a slave, but both women live in a society that restricts them because of their gender. And both are judged by their peers for their mothering choices. Although they both have three children and mother outside their society's ideas on how to raise them, Sethe's act of infanticide receives attention from both her peers and critics, while Scarlett's quiet, reserved love towards her children is judged harshly by society but receives little attention from critics. Exploration of their mothering in these novels reveals that what is criticized in both cases is actually the kind of mothering that both women have been taught by their own mothers. / Even though they come from opposite social standings, both of these characters struggle to raise their children in response to the maternal influences in their own lives. Although Scarlett is born into a wealthy family, she has fewer choices as a mother than one may think a member of the Southern aristocracy would. Conversely, Sethe, who is born into slavery, seeks freedom in order to mother her children on her terms. Both women are also influenced by external maternal influences upon their own mothering roles, and their maternal guides are not positive. Scarlett learns to reserve her love from her mother and shows her love for her children through hard work and feeding her family. Sethe has various maternal models that all teach her violence as a form of love, which she goes on to use against her own children in an attempt to save them from slavery. /

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Old South women, O'Hara, Scarlett (Fictitious character), Gone with the wind, Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949. Gone with the wind, Morrison, Toni. Beloved, Mothering, Sethe (Fictitious character), Beloved (Morrison)

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TitleLocation & LinkType of Relationship
"Bad" Mothers: A Comparison of Scarlett O'Hara in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind and Sethe in Toni Morrison's Belovedhttp://hdl.handle.net/10342/4480The described resource references, cites, or otherwise points to the related resource.