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Mummy in McDaniel’s “Gone with the Wind” Movie Essay


Gone with the Wind is one of the most powerful and famous classic movies in the whole world. Though it was created in far 1939, the movie contains plenty of interesting and educative scenes that could be used by modern people. The lessons the main actors offered to people could not be counted. The plays of Leigh, Gable, and Havilland were impressive indeed. At the same time, it is impossible not to mention the supporting role performed by Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind. Her Mammy impressed a number of people, and her physical and vocal choices influenced the world of cinema considerably. It seems that all McDaniel’s choices were made correctly because the image of Mammy helped to understand the true worth of Black slaves, the importance of staying committed to people and duties, and the example of dignity and humanity that should be inherent to all people.

McDaniel’s Mammy is one of the most powerful characters in the movie Gone with the Wind. The success of her work could be proved by the fact that she was the first African-American Oscar winner. From the first seconds of Mammy’s appearance, it became clear that her character was strong and confident. Mammy knew her duties, and she understood that her task was to take care of Scarlett and make sure that the girl followed the orders of her parents. Her first appearance told a lot about the correctly made physical and vocal choices. Though Gone with the Wind was not a musical, and Hattie McDaniel did not demonstrate her vocal abilities, her voice in dialogues could make a person laugh or cry in several seconds. She impressed with her mimics and the ability to listen to her. For example, the phrase that “what gentlemen say and what they think is two different things” (Gone with the Wind) to make Scarlett eat a bit at home made me smile and believe that Mammy’s experience was enough to say that, and Scarlett, in her turn, changed her mind and started eating. Even her snorting and glances deserved the right to be in the movie as an example of how an ordinary Black servant could react to the actions of her White masters. She introduced a true image of a Black slave that included the possibility to be confident in her thoughts and beliefs and to respect her masters.

In addition to the power in her voice and look, her activities and statements told a lot about her attitude to the people she had to work for and the desire to stay committed to Scarlett, her parents, and the land she had to live at. After viewing the film, I would like to compare the character of Mammy with the image of Tara, the plantation Scarlett’s family lives at. Though both of them performed supporting roles, their importance in the lives of the main characters could not be neglected. At the beginning of the movie, Mammy performed the role of Scarlett’s guardian and carer. In the middle of the movie, Mammy was introduced as a devoted servant of the O’Hara’s land. At the end of the film, Mammy became a kind of emotional backbone with the help of which Scarlett and Rhett Butler could survive her grief.

In my opinion, in Gone with the Wind, Mammy could also be an example of how dignity and humanity should look like. The relations Mammy developed with Rhett could be used as one of the possible explanations. When Rhett appeared in the life of Scarlett, Mammy could not accept him as he was due to his unpredictable behavior, sharp phrases, and a kind of open insolence that he was not eager to hide. Though Mammy did not demonstrate her negative attitude to Rhett, he got to know about her thoughts via Scarlett and underlined that “Mammy’s a smart old soul. And one of the few people who’re the respect I’d like to have” (Gone with the Wind). Though Mammy was not present, her character and its importance in the story were perfectly developed and explained in that scene. At the end of the movie, the fact that Mammy took care of Rhett’s emotional instability and wanted to help him by any possible means proved that she was the person whose respect was gained by Rhett.

In general, Mammy seems to be one of the strongest and properly developed characters in the movie Gone with the Wind. There are no doubts that Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar was given for her great contribution to the world of cinema. Her physical appearance supported the main idea of house servants. Her voice and persuasion proved the image of true Black people, who had nothing to do but work for other people and earn for living in the middle of the 1800s. I did believe in every piece of her performance. I loved that character with all my soul because it helped to stay humane and dignified regardless of all challenges and standards of the world.

Works Cited

Gone with the Wind. Directed by Victor Fleming, performances by Clarke Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel, Loew’s Inc., 1939.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 13). Mummy in McDaniel's "Gone with the Wind" Movie. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/mummy-in-mcdaniels-gone-with-the-wind-movie/

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"Mummy in McDaniel's "Gone with the Wind" Movie." IvyPanda, 13 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/mummy-in-mcdaniels-gone-with-the-wind-movie/.

1. IvyPanda. "Mummy in McDaniel's "Gone with the Wind" Movie." August 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mummy-in-mcdaniels-gone-with-the-wind-movie/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "Mummy in McDaniel's "Gone with the Wind" Movie." August 13, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mummy-in-mcdaniels-gone-with-the-wind-movie/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Mummy in McDaniel's "Gone with the Wind" Movie'. 13 August.

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