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The story takes place in Georgia, mostly in Atlanta, during the Civil War of the 1860's. However, important sections also take place in Tara, the plantation home of the O’Hara family. The plantation is one of several that spanned southern Georgia and is, fictionally, one of those that survived the destruction of General Sherman's march.

The story begins with the Civil War and spans seven or eight years following the war, a time period during which the "old south" with its elegance, wealth and aristocratic traditions is subjected to a federally mandated program called "Radical Reconstruction." Atlanta is first burned and then rebuilt by Yankees who prosper while southerners who cling desperately to the old traditions subsist in proud poverty.

An interesting aspect of the setting is that much of it takes place on Peachtree Street, the house of Aunt Pittypat that resembles the childhood home of the author herself. The Margaret Mitchell house still stands in its original location although it took the work of the Atlanta Historical Society in the latter portion of the 20 th century to prevent it from being torn down. Other houses that once surrounded it and are a part of the story have been replaced by various shops.


Major Characters

Scarlett O’Hara

The protagonist of the novel. She is the daughter of Gerald and Ellen O'Hara and is accustomed to getting her own way, whether with clothes or boys. She surrounds herself with young men, flirting mercilessly and is not above stealing the beaux of other girls. She is willful, conniving, and yet far more intelligent than well-bred girls are supposed to be.

Ashley Wilkes

Husband to Melanie Hamilton and object of Scarlett's life-long fantasy. He is a true member of the old south who feels unable to cope with the new world.

Melanie Hamilton

Wife to Ashley Wilkes and sister-in-law to Scarlett. Described by Rhett as the only truly kind person he has ever known. Unable to believe anything bad about people she loves.

Rhett Butler

Scarlett's life long antagonist who is in love with her from the moment he sees her. He is an opportunist willing to take advantage of any situation, but not without kindness or generosity under the right conditions.


Scarlett's childhood nurse and life-long servant and companion. Mammy understands Scarlett better than Scarlett understands herself and is remarkably intuitive, but also protective and motherly.

Minor Characters

Tarleton boys

Stuart, Brent, Boyd, Tom: young men from a neighboring plantation

James Tarleton

The father of the Tarleton boys

Mr. Calvert and his "Yankee" wife

The owners of smaller neighboring plantation

The Calvert children

Raiford, Cade, Cathleen

Joe and Tony Fontaine

Sons on another nearby plantation

Sally Monroe

Joe’s bride

Dimity Munroe

Sally's sister

John Wilkes

Ashley’s father

Ellen O’Hara

Scarlett's mother

Gerald O’Hara

Scarlett's father

Suellen and Coreen O’Hara

Scarlett's younger sisters

Charles Hamilton

Scarlett’s first husband, brother to Melanie

Prissy, Dilcey

Additional slaves purchased by Gerald early in the story. Prissy is given to Scarlett


Gerald's personal servant

Frank Kenney

Scarlett’s second husband stolen from Suellen

Honey and India Wilkes

Ashley’s younger sisters

The Merriwethers, the Elsings, the Meads

Citizens of Atlanta


Pittypat's house servant

Belle Watling

Owner of the whorehouse of Atlanta

Rene Picard

Beau to Maybelle Merriwether


Scarlett's first child by Charles


Scarlett's second child by Frank

Bonnie Blue

Scarlett's third and last child


A homeless soldier with a past who stays in Melanie's basement and serves as a bodyguard to the women

Hugh Elsing

Husband of Mrs. Elsing

Tommy Gallagher

A low class foreman who runs one of Scarlett's mills.

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