I'm going to be completely honest, I really hated the movie at first. Scarlett Just seemed to whine so much and it drove me crazy. I've always grown up believing that you make the most of what you have, and she just wasn't fitting the bill of the perfect heroine. She just seemed to lack so much in her character, she had no depth.
Then the war started and things began to look more interesting... Until she went and married Charles all because she wanted to make Ashley jealous. When she did this, it felt like my distaste for her would never end. I would have never believed I would be loving her character by the end of the movie.
When her first husband died and she was forced to wear mourning clothes at the party, I couldn't help but be astonished at her behavior. Some poor man had just died, her husband no less. Even if she did not love him, she should have at least felt some remorse. Then Rhett Butler entered the ball. This was the turninig point for my view on the movie. I wasn't able to stop myself from thinking "This is it, Scarlett. This is your chance for happiness." And for a moment, when she went to dance with the man, I thought she had. But then she just ran right back to Ashley, even though the man was already married.
Jumping ahead to when she was a nurse in Atlanta, it is my belief that this is where her character development truly started to progress. I may sound like a total monster, but the scene when she is running through the streets surrounded by wounded and dying soldiers may very well be my favorite. She was driven to run through such a horrible scene to help Melanie, the wife of the man she loved, to get a doctor as the woman was about to give birth. Scarlett had a huge grudge against Melanie, but because of the promise she made to Ashley, she protected her to the best of her abilities.
Much later in the movie, after she had married Rhett Butler and after her daughter had died, the most inspiring moment of the movie came. The death of Melanie seemed to fuel the final change in Scarlett's character. Though it helped puth the final crack in Rhett and Scarlett's relationship as she hugged Ashley in front of her then husband for comfort, it led to many important revelations. First, that Ashley never really loved Scarlett. This in turn caused Scarlett to realise she was not upset by this, for she thought she loved him but she did not. In reality, she had loved Rhett for quite some time.
When Scarlett returns home and he leaves her, speaking the famous phrase "frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," she is heartbroken. But she then remembers Tara, and swears that she will return to her home and find a way to get him back.
In conclusion, I must say that Scarlett really surprised me. She seemed so annoyingly shallow in the beginning, but as the story progressed and the plot got deeper, so did she. Her character development was truly remarkable. And without Vivien Leigh as the actress, this may not have been possible, her skill at being able to completely become another person is one of the key factors in this films success.
Of course who could forget the incredible casting, cinematography, and directing. For a movie from the 1930's, it seemed well ahead of its time. The fact that the movie is still so loved to this very day is proof of that.