The Analysis of Scarlett’s marriage view based on Freud’s Theory of Personality


校园英语·中旬 2016年9期


【Abstract】Gone With the Wind, one of the most classic love novels in the history of American literature, is the only novel written by Margaret Mitchell. Set against a background of the American Civil War and postwar reconstruction, It focuses on the love relationship and life experience of Scarlett, and mainly depicts her love and marriage. Using Freuds theory of personality, the author will analyze the reasons for Scarletts three marriages.

【Key words】Scarlett; marriage; Freuds theory of personality

1. Freuds Theory of Personality

The well-known work is The Ego and the Id is written by Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. In this thesis, Freuds theory of human psyche will be applied to illustrate the tragic marriage of protagonist. Freud presents that the human psyche consists of the id, ego and superego, which will be narrated in detail respectively.

According to Freud,“The id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends, the ego is the organized and realistic part, the superego plays the critical and moralizing role”. (Freud 1923) It follows that the id, ego and superego interact with each other. The ego works as a mediator. Only when it satisfies the requirement of both the id and the superego can the three get a balance, which will make people behave normally. On the contrary, if they are out of balance, it will trigger a sense of anxiety so that people behave abnormally. However, according to Freud, some remediation will be done when a person realizes that he had made mistakes. Then the three parts of human psyche will be balanced, but the balance is temporary. (高觉敷 1984)

2. Attitude towards Marriage

Scarlett experienced three marriages in her life but she never took marriage seriously. Most people hold that love is the foundation of marriage. Nevertheless, it doesnt include Scarlett.

2.1 The tool for vanity and revenge from the marriage with Charles

“It is argued that the id knows no judgment of value: no good, evil and morality.” (高觉敷 1984). Scarlett treats the marriage with Charles as a tool for vanity and revenge is the result of being manipulated by id.

Scarlett thinks she is the center of the world, and all boys should love her. She falls in love with Ashley at the first sight. When she knows Ashley and his Melanie are going to get married, she cannot accept it and tries her best to get Ashley back. However, she fails. To hurt Ashley she accepts Charles Hamiltons propose then they get married before Melanie and Ashleys wedding.

This marriage is very dramatic and childish! It seems that revenge plays a large role in it, but from a woman's point of view, Scarlett has a mind of wanting to be loved. Charles is a substitute and a victim. While at the same time, Scarlett also wants, through the wedding, to prove that Ashley loves her, to see him hurt, and to make him regret for the whole life. To some extent, because of pleasure principle, the act that she gets married with Charles is unimaginable but reasonable.

2.2 The means for survival and living from the marriage with Frank

According to Freud,“The ego is that the part of id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.” (Freud 1923)

The second man who marries Scarlett is Frank, who has got engaged with one of Scarletts sister. It is the hardest time for Scarlett: the south becomes very disadvantageous in the war and her home Tara has undergone earth-shaking changes, the war throws her into a homeless and starved state. She marries Frank because she needs money to pay for the taxes on Tara. Scarlett does not love Frank, but she still gets him.

The marriage with Frank accords with reality principle a, stands for reason and common sense. The marriage can be seen as one that Scarlett is forced by life to make an immoral choice which is a completely practical action for the sake of saving Tara. She gets married with Frank rather than her real lover Ashley can be seen as an unselfish act but she breaks her sisters marriage, neglecting ethics between sisters. At this period, the decision and things she made is determined by reality, in other words, ego.

2.3 The implement for sense of belonging and happiness

“The superego actually is originated from experiences that led to totems.” (Freud 1923)

While Scarlett is torn with guilt of causing the death of Frank, Rhett appears and offers a marriage proposal, promising to give her everything. She marries him for the consideration that she will never have to bother about money again and that Tara is safe, the family was fed and clothed, she would be safe. She marries Rhett because of money, vanity and the feeling of being loved, not for love. However, after the marriage, Rhett provides her full love and a warm home, Scarlett has already fall in love with Rhett, even she herself has not found it.

“The domination of the superego over ego is in the form of conscience or perhaps of an unconscious sense of guilty.” (Freud 1923) When Rhett leaves her, she said: “Tara! Home! Ill go home, and Ill think of some way to get him back! After all, tomorrow is another day!” (Mitchell, Margaret 2011). That doesnt happen in her first two marriages. From this can find that she has sublimated from ego to superego, that is, perfection principle.

3. Reasons for these Views

There are many causes for Scarletts views of marriage, such as the Civil War, the life experience, the personality and so on, but the author would like to use Freuds theory of personality to analysis them.

3.1 Id— As a conqueror in her first marriage

According to Freud, the id is the primordial, unorganized part that represents human instinct, desire and impulsion as an unconscious part of personality structure.

Before the war, she lives in the traditional and conservative plantation and is treated as a princess. Therefore she is proud, naive and full of desire for love. She thinks that Ashley should love her without dispute, so when she was refused she cannot understand that.

The id knows no judgment of value: any good and evil, no morality. (Freud 1923) Because of Ashleys refusal, she lost her mind. The only thing she wants to do is to take revenge on Ashley, to save her face and to prove her charm. Getting married to Charles is in accordance with pleasure principle to avoid displeasure and suffering.

3.2 Ego—To save Tara and survive in her second marriage

According to Freud, the ego is part of id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world. Thus it operates according to reality principle and it stands for reason and common sense. (Freud 1923)

Owing to difficulties in real world, Scarlett changes her aristocratic ladys temper completely. To fulfill the promise she makes to Ashley, she looks after Melanie and her son carefully. All things she does are out of two reasons. First, she has to compromise with the fact, to survival, thus she can harvest happiness, which means id. Second, she obeys the social ethnic, conscience and common sense, that is superego. When the id and the ego control her mind and behavior at the same time, she does the things mentioned above, that is, during this period her personality exalts from the id to the ego.

3.3 Superego—Understand what is real love in her third marriage

According to Freud, the superego actually is originated from experiences that led to totems and the domination of the superego over the ego is in the form of conscience or perhaps of an unconscious sense of guilty.(Freud 19223)

After Scarlett experienced two periods unsuccessful marriage, she finally finds that Rhett is the one who always is there, and she unconsciously depends on him. At Melanies deathbed Scarlett realizes that she had loved something that never really existed. It is Rhetts selfless contribution that makes her understand what is love and marriage.

The superego that controls our sense of right and wrong performs in a socially appropriate way. The true love in Scarletts heart makes her not just obey the responsibility of a wife but decides to move heaven and earth to get Rhett back. Scarlett realizes her mistakes, so she obeys the superego principle.


From the analysis of Scarletts views of marriage in Gone with the Wind, it is found that Scarlett holds a purposeful and unserious attitude towards marriage. The causes of Scarletts views towards marriage is the imbalance of the id ,ego, and superego in her mind, which contributes to the tragic marriage. The process of the growth of her personality is the procedure of the balance of the id, ego and superego.

From this paper people should learn to establish appropriate attitudes toward love and marriage, insisting that love is the foundation of marriage.


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[2]Dong Hengxun.The History of America Literature.Beijing:People Literature press,2003.

[3]Edwards Anne.Road to Tara.Dell Publishing Company,1984.

[4]Harmetz Aliean.On the Road to Tara.Harry N.Abrams 1996.

[5]Mitchell,Margaret.Gone with the Wind.Yili:Yili People Press,2001.

[6]Sigmund,Freud.1923.The Ego and The Id[M].London:W.W. Norton &Company.




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