I just finished reading the wonderful non-fiction book Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited by Molly Haskell which made me want to watch Gone with the Wind again. The film has always been a guilty pleasure along the lines of enjoying The Sopranos (far superior artistically but evokes similar feelings of discomfort and guilty pleasure) or the milder guilt inducing West Side Story.
From a mid 19th c. societal point of view as a Southern lady, Scarlett's transgressions range from the offensive (marrying Charles Hamilton, a man she did not love, to make Ashley Wilkes jealous; dancing in public while in mourning for one's husband and callously giving his wedding ring away under the guise of supporting the Confederate cause; sporadically necking with her lifelong love Ashley, a married man and an in-law to boot) to the fairly disreputable (marrying
sister Suellen's beau to save the family estate; traveling alone in a disreputable part of town to do business; trying to con Rhett Butler out of $300 to pay the taxes to save Tara, the family home) to the unconscionable (doing business with the hated carpetbaggers and those whom Southerners claim have destroyed the South; shooting a Union soldier in the face as he tries to rob you; using convicts as labour in her new business).
In the end, Scarlett gets what she wants - wealth and stability - even if she has to marry the once hated Rhett Butler to get it. And she eventually succumbs to his desire that she love him, truly love him, and drives the desire for that milquetoast Ashley Wilkes out of her head forever.
But it takes extraordinary things to happen before she comes to that point. Melanie must die and then Scarlett must see how much Ashley truly loved his wife. Scarlett has to lose virtually every person that she has loved: mother Ellen, father Gerald, Bonnie her first born, her unborn child which she miscarries, her love for Ashley, Rhett.
She stands alone at the end and yet is unbroken. She will triumph. And in the end, feminist or not, you forgive her her transgressions and believe that she will carry on by any means necessary.