Scarlett O'Hara, the main protagonist of the novel Gone With the Wind, is a pretty, coquettish Southern belle who grows up on the Georgia plantation of Tara in the years before the American Civil War. Selfish, shrewd and vain, Scarlett inherits the strong will of her father Gerald, but also desires to please her well-bred, genteel mother Ellen. In the face of hardship, Scarlett shoulders the troubles of her family and friends as women usually did on the plantations. Scarlett loves Ashley Wilkes, her aristocratic neighbor, but marries three other men through the course of the narrative. Scarlett's internal conflict between her feelings for the Southern gentleman Ashley, who is married to Melanie, and the sardonic, opportunistic Rhett Butler embodies the general position of the South in the era of the war.
The search for an actress to play Scarlett in the film version of the novel famously drew big names such as Bette Davis and Paulette Goddard. In the end, the role went to Vivien Leigh, a British actress little known in the USA, who ended up winning an Academy Award for her portrayal.