|A weekly meme from The Unread Reader:|
Talk about your fictional crush!
He was courteous always, but aloof, remote. No one could ever tell what he was thinking about, Scarlett least of all. In a neighborhood where everyone said exactly what he thought as soon as he thought it, Ashley's quality of reserve was exasperating . . . Oh, why was he so handsomely blond, so courteously aloof, so maddeningly boring with his talk about Europe and books and music and poetry and things that interested her not at all--and yet so desirable?
~Scarlett musing on Ashley in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
|Christian Bale always seemed like an ideal Ashley Wilkes to me, even though his hair is darker than Ashley's blond and his eyes are hazel rather than Ashley's gray.|
Why Ashley Wilkes? Yes, he inhabits the racist world of Gone With the Wind, which goes to great lengths to glorify the slavery-based society of the Old South. However, to his credit, Ashley is the only character in the whole damn book who seems to recognize that slavery is wrong. (You think?!) He was also one of only two characters--the other was Rhett Butler--who understood that the South was fighting a war it couldn't possibly win.
Ashley has his detractors; for many readers he pales in comparison to bad-boy Rhett Butler. But Rhett's bad boy qualities always seemed too over the top to me. Rhett kills a young man in a duel (a young man who was only defending his sister's honor), profiteers during the war (making millions from the bloodshed), and, finally, encourages Scarlett to flaunt conventions but despises her for it afterward. So, no, I'm not a fan of Rhett.
|Ashley eventually abandons the clean-shaven look, just as Christian Bale's character does in Little Women.|
Ashley is very much like Rhett, as Ashley himself once points out to Scarlett. They think alike; they just react differently. Ashley strives to take the honorable road; no duels or profiteering, and--though he arguably misleads Scarlett about his feelings for her--he always accepts her as she is, without trying to change her. So I'll take Ashley, thank you. I'll own that he wasn't the right man for Scarlett, but I'll always have a soft spot for him.