What would Melanie Hamilton do? Whenever I find myself in a quandary, I ask myself this question; for you see my favorite character in the classic film Gone With The Wind (GWTW) always has been Melanie Hamilton! Oh sure, Scarlett refers to her as ‘mealy mouthed…’ well that’s because she’s Scarlett Katy O’Hara! TA-DA! I however have spent many a carefree hour enjoying the film, it’s color, sweeping drama and remarkable characters and regardless of what they are doing and where they are going, I find myself again and again feeling a depth of compassion for the human race because of Miss. Melly. Here is a woman who, in spite of all the seemingly incredibly strong energies around her, maintains her ZEN with no apologies made. From befriending those who society would shun to being ‘real’ in her personal moments of discomfort and pain, Miss. Melly always manages to simply BE and that has always fascinated me. Therefore it seems natural to me to ponder the thought, WWMHD when I am faced with my own choice of response or reaction to life and its energies.
True enough in times of joy and happiness it is plainer than the magnolias blooming around Tara to simply be ONE with it all, heck even I can handle that (Miss. Melly would be proud) still what about those times when there is more going on than perhaps I can assimilate at the moment. Possibly I am witnessing discord amongst others and I am toying with the idea of jumping in to bring about a resolution to ‘their’ issue. Of course there are those times when I am being confronted by another or maybe several others who are demanding that I conform to their ways to accommodate ‘their needs’ and if I choose not to, well the dire consequences that might follow… perish the thought. Well, what WOULD Miss. Melly do? How would ‘she’ respond, behave, handle each of these situations? I should like to think that she would employ her ZEN super powers and be the beacon of blessings, the light of love or the woman of wisdom and stand firm in her space while allowing everyone else around her to be in their spaces as well.
See, I believe that when Margaret Mitchell wrote that story so very long ago she was actually using timeless examples of etiquette and breeding to exaggerate stereotypes which of course gave us the opportunity to bond with her characters because we are deeply hooked emotionally either through our religious training, family upbringing or schooling etc. And because we could wrap our heads around ‘why’ Scarlett was so popular and Ashley was so torn, why Rhett was such a scoundrel and Mammy so revered we could then also put Miss. Melly up on that pedestal for she represented the innocent, pure of heart who believed the best in everyone and always allowed that belief to lead no matter the circumstances. Of course the willful Scarlet allowed her energy to pervade, the devil-may care Rhett was true to his personality and yes the dutiful Ashley played his part so well I would hazard a guess that many a mother saw him as the perfect catch for her daughter! Yet it was Melanie that most of us wanted to be friends with and hoped we were that type of friend to others as well. Even though to the brash, forceful Scarlet she appeared to be weak, she was truly the embodiment of personal strength. Not that even up on realizing this at the very end of Miss Melly’s life (sorry if this is a spoiler alert, but hopefully those reading this have already seen the film) did Scarlet change her ways, she DID have an epiphany and set out to create a happier life for herself but as that is pretty much where the film ends we can only surmise.
Personally it took me a few experiences where my inner Scarlet came out (and I needed to control and manipulate life to bring me what I needed) or I’d Rhett (take the gamble and bet I could bluff someone else into folding) all over the place to realize that I wasn’t achieving the desired lasting results. Confounded and confused, it wasn’t until I began a journey of self-discovery and meditation that I found myself identifying more and more with Miss. Melly yet I didn’t get it right away, no sir, it wasn’t until one of the most recent times of watching GWTW that it became clear what a huge influence she had been in my life. I found myself being kinder not only to others but to myself and able to connect more and more with the peace of my OWN Zen. Who knew? But did I really understand it all even then…,
So just what WAS Melanie’s Zen? Where did it come from? Obviously this is anybody’s guess as unless I am about to channel Margaret Mitchell (not saying that isn’t possible) so here is my hypothesis. Melanie always appeared to believe in a Higher Power, something more than just us and she’d pull out her bible to demonstrate that (refer to the scene where the men-folk are going into the woods to avenge the attack on Scarlet and the women are gathered at Miss Melly’s for a sewing circle to bide their time and Melanie begins to read from the Bible to keep them all calm). The ladies take comfort in the words and maintain their composure. Then, in the scene where Miss. Melly scoffs at the pressures of society and climbs into Belle’s carriage to thank her for the donations Belle has made to help the soldiers and even then Belle reminds her that a ‘lady’ such a Miz Wilkes should think twice before being seen with the likes of her. Miss. Melly assures Belle that she prizes Belle’s allegiance to the South and expresses her sincere gratitude for her gift. Then, just when Belle feels the acceptance, she reveals that she too is a mother and the bond between the two women becomes visibly strengthened and we just knew that no matter what each had found a life-long connection. And who can forget the unselfish act of Miss. Melly donating her wedding ring to ‘the cause’ so its gold could be melted down and the money given to the army? Her words of “…it may do my husband more good off my finger than on it”, were said with such touching sentiment driving home the point that HE meant more to her then the gold band signifying that they belonged to each other. Perhaps the pattern here was that of LOVE in all its varied and splendid forms. Melanie couldn’t hate because all she knew was love. Melanie couldn’t recognize hate in anyone else because all she knew was love and even in those times when she HAD to do something distasteful (shoot the intruder or fly in the face of rumor and scandal at the birthday party) she maintained that Zen and bore it all like a true being and beacon of LOVE!
Okie dokie then, this makes me not only want to watch this film again and again (popcorn needed to be trucked in as this is a film of some length) but it reinforces my mantra in situations where I question what my response or reaction will be what WOULD Melanie Hamilton do? My guess is, she’d see the love in it all and act accordingly. I can do that, thanks Miss. Melly!