Rhett: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
These are Rhett’s last words in the movie and perhaps the most memorable line of Gone With the Wind. This line shows as much strength of character in Rhett as Scarlett’s earlier defiance does in her, and with these words Rhett himself becomes almost more heroic than Scarlett. Scarlett, despite all the hardships she faces, never fully accepts that other people are just as good and as worthy of respect and admiration as she is. Stormy and wild, she is completely convinced of her own beauty and seems to be completely irresistible to every man she meets. She shucks off her genteel upbringing with only minor hesitation, hardly ever feels guilty about what she does to others, and generally lives her life on a legendary scale. Though she does exhibit admirable determination and bravery, she remains aloof and distant, and these qualities prevent her from being a wholly accessible character.
Despite all his bravado, Rhett ultimately shows more true humanity than Scarlett does. Though he first appears in the film with a reputation and demeanor as daring and iconic as Scarlett’s, his affection for Scarlett quickly reveals that his heart is his Achilles’ heel. He is as powerless before Scarlett as are all the other men, but unlike Charles Hamilton and Frank Kennedy, Rhett hates his powerlessness and struggles hard against it. His struggle is long and difficult. Even as he swears he’ll free himself from Scarlett, his loneliness continues to draw him to her, and he sustains the hope that she’ll one day love and appreciate him as he does her. Rhett doubts, and even occasionally hates, himself for the cycle of affection and rejection he’s trapped in. Certain moments in the film, such as Scarlett’s scene on the staircase and Bonnie’s death, reveal the extent of Rhett’s sadness and pain. The film never explores Scarlett’s dark feelings as deeply. When Rhett finally breaks away from his poisonous relationship with Scarlett, his decision is courageous yet heartbreaking. Rhett has shown that he can feel true pain and anguish, and his feelings are evident even in his dismissive, biting words.