Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind


Margaret Mitchell

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The Curtain Dress Symbol Analysis

The Curtain Dress Symbol Icon

The dress Scarlett makes out of Ellen’s green velvet curtains represents her willingness to do whatever it takes to get ahead. From the beginning of the novel, Scarlett dreams of being a great lady like her mother, Ellen. But when she makes a dress out of Ellen’s curtains so she can manipulate Rhett Butler into giving her money, she leaves behind her dream of being like her mother for good. The dress is intended to make Scarlett look wealthy when she isn’t, and Scarlett’s choice to make it and wear it symbolizes Scarlett’s choice to abandon her morals and focus on wealth at the expense of everything else. The dress, then, marks the turning point in Scarlett’s moral collapse. After making the dress and going to Atlanta to seduce Rhett, she stops at nothing to survive and find new ways to make money. Whenever Scarlett has qualms about the morality of her actions, she thinks of the day when she turned her mother’s curtains into a dress and decides that she has strayed too far from the dignified lady Ellen wanted her to be to go back.

The Curtain Dress Quotes in Gone with the Wind

The Gone with the Wind quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Curtain Dress. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Civil War and Reconstruction Theme Icon
Chapter 32 Quotes

She came to the end of the long road which had begun the night Atlanta fell. She had set her feet upon that road a spoiled, selfish and untried girl, full of youth, warm of emotion, easily bewildered by life. Now, at the end of the road, there was nothing left of that girl. Hunger and hard labor, fear and constant strain, the terrors of war and the terrors of Reconstruction had taken away all warmth and youth and softness.

Related Characters: Scarlett O’Hara
Related Symbols: The Curtain Dress, Atlanta
Page Number: 511
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Curtain Dress Symbol Timeline in Gone with the Wind

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Curtain Dress appears in Gone with the Wind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 32
Looking Forward vs. Looking Back Theme Icon
Practicality, Tenacity, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
...the curtains. They argue for a moment, but then Scarlett tells Mammy to get the dress patterns. She’s making a dress from the curtains, since she’s going to Atlanta to borrow... (full context)
Looking Forward vs. Looking Back Theme Icon
Practicality, Tenacity, and Selfishness Theme Icon
After supper, everyone helps make the dress. It feels as if they’re preparing for a ball. Scarlett says she’s going to “mortgage... (full context)
Women and Power Theme Icon
Mammy sends Ashley and Will out so that the women can fit Scarlett in the dress. Will and Ashley look at each other; they both have the same suspicion. Everything feels... (full context)
Chapter 34
Women and Power Theme Icon
...Pitty, Mammy, and Uncle Peter leave. Then she jumps up and puts on her new dress. She is excited for “a struggle of the wits” with a man. Her gown makes... (full context)
Practicality, Tenacity, and Selfishness Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
...insists, can’t resist a lost cause. They continue to banter, and Scarlett shows off her dress. Rhett says she’s beautiful, but he won’t take advantage of her. (full context)
Women and Power Theme Icon
...Rhett doesn’t want a farm. Scarlett says things at Tara are bad; she’s hungry. Her dress is made from curtains, Ellen is dead, Gerald has lost his mind, and she can’t... (full context)