The Language of Rape: Margaret Mitchell’s Defense of Spousal Rape in Gone With the Wind
University of Mary Washington
Abstract: Rape as a mechanism of power asserts the mental, physical, and sexual dominance of one individual over another. In the instances of male-perpetrated rape of women, the female victim loses her autonomy as an individual because she becomes a mode of sexual expression and release for her assaulter. In her novel Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell specifically negotiates marital rape, among other types. Though only allusive, she depicts this rape through the diction used to describe the relationship between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. These representations convey the author’s reaffirmation of both established gender norms during the Civil War era and her own lingering anxieties during the 1920s. Mitchell establishes her traditional beliefs regarding male-female relationships in a system of male domination. She argues that, despite the detrimental effects of an abusive relationship, the woman will want to end up with the man who removed her agency.
Faculty Mentor: Gary Richards