Colour, gender and 'Gone with the Wind'
conference contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Karin StokesKarin Stokes
The manipulation of symbols is a feature of human social life, yet little attention has been paid to the non-discursive symbolisms apparent in everyday experience. Symbolism aids in the hegemonisation of social life by facilitating representation of idealised men and women. Non-discursive symbols, affecting emotions, can be demonstrated to have the same gender messages as the more commonly critiqued symbols such as icons and language. In this paper, the non-discursive symbolism of colour use is examined for the 1929 classic film ‘Gone with the Wind’. The heroine – Scarlet O’Hara – is seen in several coloured costumes that associate with specific gender performances, and each demonstrates a different view of the unhappiness resulting from her usurpation of ‘men’s roles’. In this, the colours of Scarlet’s costumes serve as a non-discursive object lesson for women that lies outside the traditional critiques of such Hollywood offerings.