Melanie Wilkes
Melanie Hamilton Wilkes is a fictional character
Fictional character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...

 first appearing in the novel Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind
The slaves depicted in Gone with the Wind are primarily loyal house servants, such as Mammy, Pork and Uncle Peter, and these slaves stay on with their masters even after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 sets them free...

by Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell was an American author and journalist. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937 for her epic American Civil War era novel, Gone with the Wind, which was the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.-Family:Margaret Mitchell was born in Atlanta,...

. In the 1939 film
Gone with the Wind (film)
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...

 she was portrayed by Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia Mary de Havilland is a British American film and stage actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1946 and 1949. She is the elder sister of actress Joan Fontaine. The sisters are among the last surviving leading ladies from Hollywood of the 1930s.-Early life:Olivia de Havilland...

. Melanie is Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O'Hara
Scarlett O' Hara is the protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the later film of the same name...

's sister-in-law and eventually her best friend.


Born Melanie Hamilton around 1844, she and her brother Charles Hamilton are among the last members born of the relatively affluent Hamilton family. The family has always valued education and sought to provide their members with the finest available. As a result, they have gained a reputation for producing a fair number of intellectuals and several noted lawyers. For several generations they have intermarried with the like-minded Wilkes family. Unfortunately, this practice of apparent inbreeding
Inbreeding is the reproduction from the mating of two genetically related parents. Inbreeding results in increased homozygosity, which can increase the chances of offspring being affected by recessive or deleterious traits. This generally leads to a decreased fitness of a population, which is...

 has eventually resulted in the birth of progressively sicklier children.

Melanie and Charles' parents die when their children are still young. Their father, Col. William R. Hamilton, was described as a hot-tempered, fiery soldier "with a ramrod for a backbone". The two siblings are placed under the joint guardianship of Henry Hamilton and Sarah Jane "Pittypat" Hamilton, their father's brother and sister. Neither of them are married and so they consider their nephew and niece as their children. Henry is a lawyer and resident of Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

 and the family fortune has been placed under his management. Pittypat is described as having the maturity of a child herself. The one actually responsible for raising the two children is Uncle Peter, an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. Peter is fiercely loyal to the Hamiltons and served the orphans' father during his military service in the Mexican-American War. Though the Hamiltons are nominally his masters, Peter views them more as his charges and acts as the protector of Pittypat and her niece and nephew throughout their lives. He is described as a brave and intelligent man who, in serving the interests of the Hamiltons, often advises his charges and on several occasions makes decisions for them. Thanks to their devoted uncles and aunt, the siblings grow to be well-educated and well-read young people, but due to their somewhat sheltered environment, they tend to be naive in worldly ways.


In keeping with the family tradition, in April 1861, Melanie becomes engaged to her cousin, Ashley Wilkes
Ashley Wilkes
George Ashley Wilkes is a fictional character in the Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and the later film of the same name. The character also appears in the 1991 book Scarlett, a sequel to Gone with the Wind written by Alexandra Ripley, and in Rhett Butler's People by Donald...

. Melanie is unaware that Scarlett O'Hara intended to marry Ashley. For Scarlett the news is shocking. Nevertheless, she is present at the engagement celebration, along with her family and most other plantation owners of the county. According to her description, Melanie is a rather petite and delicate young woman with the height and weight of a child. Her most notable feature is her large brown eyes. To Scarlett she seems quite shy and sweet but not particularly beautiful. However, her way of movement is described as graceful beyond her years. To Scarlett she seems more interested in discussing books than in flirting with men. While most young girls present at the celebration seek to impress the young men with their dress sense, Melanie is plainly clothed and discussing the works of William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.-Biography:...

 and Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...


Scarlett is certain that Ashley will prefer her to Melanie. Confronting him privately she confesses her love for him. Ashley admits he is attracted to her but he is determined to marry Melanie. His main stated reason is that he believes he has more in common with Melanie than with Scarlett. Scarlett feels disappointed and hurt. In her confusion she decides to hurt Ashley in return by accepting a marriage proposal by Charles Hamilton. Scarlett also considers that she is taking revenge against Melanie by marrying her brother.

The wedding takes place two weeks later on April 30, 1861, but Melanie is actually pleased about the marriage as she views her new sister-in-law as a true sister. Melanie seems to take an instant liking to Scarlett and welcomes her to their family. On May 1, 1861, Melanie herself marries Ashley. Meanwhile the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 is raging and Georgia is now part of the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. Melanie's brother has to leave two weeks after his marriage to enlist in the forces of Wade Hampton
Wade Hampton III
Wade Hampton III was a Confederate cavalry leader during the American Civil War and afterward a politician from South Carolina, serving as its 77th Governor and as a U.S...

, known as "Hampton's Legion
Hampton's Legion
Hampton's Legion was an American Civil War military unit of the Confederate States of America, organized and partially financed by wealthy South Carolina plantation owner Wade Hampton III...

". A week later Melanie's husband follows him. In his absence Melanie accepts the invitation of Aunt Pittypat to stay with her in Atlanta. The fortunes of both women are still under the management of Uncle Henry.

In Atlanta Melanie receives two important pieces of news. Her brother died less than two months after his enlistment, having contracted and recovered from the measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

 but then dying of pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

. His share of the family fortune is inherited by Scarlett, his widow. This sad news is followed by the news of Scarlett's pregnancy. Melanie's nephew is born by the end of the year and is named Wade Hampton Hamilton.

Throughout the year both Melanie and her aunt send Scarlett several invitations to join them. Melanie expresses an interest in getting to know her "sister" better and later in seeing her nephew. On the other hand, Scarlett is going through a state of depression
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

. Her mother is concerned about her and finally manages to convince her to accept the invitations. Following a short visit to maternal relatives in Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, Scarlett and her son, accompanied by her maid, Prissy
Butterfly McQueen
Thelma "Butterfly" McQueen was an American actress. Originally a dancer, the 28-year-old McQueen first appeared as Prissy, Scarlett O'Hara's maid in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind, then continued as an actress in film in the 1940s, then moving to television acting in the 1950s .-Early life:Born...

, arrive in Atlanta during the first months of 1862. She is welcomed by Uncle Peter, aging but still determined to take care of his new charge. He brings her to the house of her aunt and sister-in-law. Peter's effort to take charge is illustrated by his explanation for Pitty and Melly's absence and his negative reaction to Prissy's efforts with Scarlett's baby, as he exclaims, "Miss Pitty in a state bekase she din' come ter meet you. She's
feared you mout not unnerstan' but Ah tole her she an' Miss Melly jes' git splashed wid mud an' ruin dey new dresses an' Ah'd 'splain ter you. Miss Scarlett, you better tek dat chile. Dat
lil pickaninny gwine let it drap."

At first feeling awkward with the thought of living under the same roof with Ashley's wife, Scarlett progressively regains her interest in life. Partly responsible for that is Melanie's interest and affection towards her, though her occasional crushing hugs are hard for Scarlett to get used to. Melanie is serving as a volunteer nurse in the local hospital. Soon Scarlett joins her. Scarlett is somewhat impressed with Melanie's ability to keep a straight face and a smile in the presence of the wounded and her willingness to help and comfort them. Even if some of the gravest wounds make her pale and even cause her to vomit privately, Melanie avoids letting others find out. Scarlett starts considering that her sister-in-law is braver than she appears. At the same time Melanie maintains correspondence with Ashley, and Scarlett is still interested in hearing of his activities.

Scarlett has come to Atlanta intending to stay for a short while and as a visitor, but soon she finds herself settled more permanently and one of Atlanta's socialites. Melanie seems content with the new situation as Scarlett proves to be a better companion than their elderly aunt. At the time Atlanta is seemingly populated mostly by women, by men too old or too young to fight, and the wounded returning from the front. However, a number of men eligible to fight still remain in the city as part of the local militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

. Melanie harshly criticizes their presence in the city, while more forces are needed at the front. Scarlett soon finds that, as passively as Melanie usually acts, she can become surprisingly passionate and even aggressive in support of her ideals.


By the summer of 1862, Melanie and Scarlett have been re-acquainted to a man they met during Melanie's engagement celebration: Captain Rhett Butler
Rhett Butler
Rhett Butler is a fictional character and one of the main protagonists of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.-Role:In the beginning of the novel, we first meet Rhett at the Twelve Oaks Plantation barbecue, the home of John Wilkes and his son Ashley and daughters Honey and India Wilkes...

, at the time about 35 years old. Born to a respected family of Charleston, Rhett was disinherited by his father when he refused to marry according to the latter's wishes. He has worked his way up and has made his own fortune in the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 of 1848-1849. He has gained wealth and success as a trader but he has a poor reputation. At the time he and his sailing ship have been smuggling supplies from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and even the port of New York Harbor
New York Harbor
New York Harbor refers to the waterways of the estuary near the mouth of the Hudson River that empty into New York Bay. It is one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Although the U.S. Board of Geographic Names does not use the term, New York Harbor has important historical, governmental,...

 to the Confederation. Noted for his cynicism
Cynicism , in its original form, refers to the beliefs of an ancient school of Greek philosophers known as the Cynics . Their philosophy was that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature. This meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, health, and...

, he observes that he has gained both in wealth and in appreciation by this practice. He seems to take an instant interest in befriending both young women and soon starts flirting with Scarlett. Though this provides a subject of gossip
Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others, It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted...

 for the local society, Melanie seems to approve of both her friends and verbally defends their reputations.


By early 1863 Rhett has established himself as a friend of both women and a frequent visitor to their house. To Melanie he seems a bitter man in need of a woman to comfort him. On the other hand, Scarlett shares much of his cynical view towards people and their ideas. Both women find some of his ideas disturbing but still thought-provoking. In discussion with patriots and idealists who think this is a just war
Just War
Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin, studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers, which holds that a conflict ought to meet philosophical, religious or political criteria.-Origins:The concept of justification for...

, Rhett tends to point that all wars seem just to the soldiers fighting them, but that the leaders and orators guiding them to war tend to place themselves behind the lines and are more interested in monetary gain than ideals. Rhett also points out that those ideals are little more than a cover for the actual financial motivation behind wars. Rhett's often stated beliefs have earned him a fair number of enemies, but Melanie and Scarlett are not among them as they also tend to question the motivations behind the war.

Generally less judgmental than most members of her social circle, Melanie is surprised when she is approached by Belle Watling, an affluent prostitute
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

 and owner of a local brothel. Belle has become well-known in the local society and respected members of it frequent her brothel, but in public she usually finds herself isolated. Intending to contribute part of her weekly earnings as charity for the local hospital, Belle has found her offer being rejected. The idea is that money from such a source would be an insult to the heroic and wounded soldiers. Instead, Melanie accepts the offer. Melanie privately explains to Scarlett, who by this point has become her closest confidante, that in the process she risks her own reputation, but she reasons that the hospital needs any help it can get and that Belle's intentions are noble in this case.

Meanwhile Ashley has been serving in the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 and has been promoted to the rank of major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

. Having participated in a number of victorious battles, this army is steadily advancing towards the northern states under the orders of General Robert Edward Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

. On July 1, 1863, the army is engaged in battle against the Federals near the village of Gettysburg
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg is a borough that is the county seat, part of the Gettysburg Battlefield, and the eponym for the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The town hosts visitors to the Gettysburg National Military Park and has 3 institutions of higher learning: Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg College, and...

, Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. The Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

 lasted until July 3 and ends in the defeat and retreat of the Confederates. The news of the battle reach Atlanta early but both the outcome and the fates of many of the soldiers remain uncertain for some time after. Many wait to learn news of their relatives and friends. Melanie and Scarlett have a personal interest in the fate of Ashley, whom they still both love. When the first lists of casualties reaches Atlanta, both are relieved not to find Ashley among them. But their relief is soon followed by grief as, not surprisingly, Melanie, Scarlett and every resident of Atlanta find many of their acquaintances to be included in the lists. As well, several additions to the lists follow. The battle has been the first major defeat of the Confederates and is considered to have turned the tide of the war.

On December 20, 1863, Ashley returns home. He has received a week-long leave, and it is the first time Melanie and Scarlett have seen him in about two years. The weary soldier is met with the joy and affection of both women and seems to return it. Before leaving to rejoin his unit, Ashley explains to Scarlett his worries about his wife's current health and her fate in case he falls in battle. Ashley meets Scarlett with the specific request to look and care after Melanie in his absence. Scarlett is at first taken by surprise but she agrees. Scarlett accepts Melanie as her new charge and for the first time feels responsible for her sister-in-law and rival in love's health and care. Melanie is left blissfully unaware of the feelings her husband and "sister" have for each other and the latter's new responsibility towards herself.

1864 and later

Ashley's short visit has apparently been enough for Melanie to be three months pregnant by March 1864. Melanie has wanted a child for some time and already acted as a second mother to her nephew Wade. She is glad for the chance to have her own child. Melanie announces the news to Scarlett as soon as she is certain. She expects her friend to share her joy. Having lost her mother years ago, Melanie also seems to expect Scarlett to assume the role of the experienced woman advising her on her pregnancy, but instead Scarlett reacts in surprise, confusion and even anger to finding Melanie pregnant with Ashley's child. Melanie is unable to grasp the reasons for this reaction but fears that she has somehow hurt her friend. Melanie is also met with the fears of the doctor examining her. According to his examination, Melanie's hip bone
Hip bone
The hip bone, innominate bone or coxal bone is a large, flattened, irregularly shaped bone, constricted in the center and expanded above and below...

 seems to be too narrow to safely allow her to give birth. In any case Melanie receives a telegram from Ashley's superior officer explaining that her husband has been reported as missing in action for the last three days. Melanie finds herself believed to be a widow.

Turning to each other for comfort, Melanie and Scarlett reconcile. They spend that night crying in each other's arms while sharing Scarlett's bed. But the news of Ashley's death prove to have been premature. Another report informs the two women that efforts to recover his body have failed and that he is considered likely to have been captured by enemy forces. Anxious over her husband's uncertain fate, Melanie grows restless for some time. Even late at night Scarlett can hear Melanie pacing her bedroom back and forth, apparently suffering from insomnia
Insomnia is most often defined by an individual's report of sleeping difficulties. While the term is sometimes used in sleep literature to describe a disorder demonstrated by polysomnographic evidence of disturbed sleep, insomnia is often defined as a positive response to either of two questions:...

. This practice gradually exhausts her health and at one point she even passes out in public, an unusual incident for her. Fortunately for Melanie, Rhett happens to be near and returns her home safely. Rhett is worried about her, and ascertaining the reasons behind her current state, he promises to use his connections in Washington, DC to find out whether Major Wilkes has been captured or not. In exchange, Rhett asks Melanie to promise him that she will try to get some rest.

A month later Rhett announces to Melanie and Scarlett what has happened to Ashley. He has been wounded in conflict, captured, and is being held in a prisoner camp in Rock Island, Illinois
Rock Island Arsenal
The Rock Island Arsenal comprises , located on Arsenal Island, originally known as Rock Island, on the Mississippi River between the cities of Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. It lies within the state of Illinois. The island was originally established as a government site in 1816, with...

. The women receive the news with mixed feelings. Their loved one is still alive but for how long is questionable. Rock Island's reputation among the Confederates was no better than that of Andersonville
Andersonville prison
The Andersonville prison, officially known as Camp Sumter, served as a Confederate Prisoner-of-war camp during the American Civil War. The site of the prison is now Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville, Georgia. Most of the site actually lies in extreme southwestern Macon County,...

 among the Federals; only one quarter of the prisoners held there have ever returned home. The rest die from smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 and typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

, among other diseases.

Melanie's pregnancy continues even though her health is frail. She is put on bedrest for most of the third trimester of her pregnancy. General William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

's troops begin to approach Atlanta. Because of this, Aunt Pittypat and Uncle Peter flee to relatives in Macon, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Macon is a city located in central Georgia, US. Founded at the fall line of the Ocmulgee River, it is part of the Macon metropolitan area, and the county seat of Bibb County. A small portion of the city extends into Jones County. Macon is the biggest city in central Georgia...

, and Melanie is left in Scarlett's care. A short while later, Melanie goes into labor. At this time, however, General Sherman is beginning to wage battle with the Home Guard. Scarlett sends her servant, Prissy to find help, but is unable to find any for various reasons. Scarlett and Prissy are then forced to deliver Melanie's baby. The delivery is very difficult due to Melanie's health and body structure.

After her son is born, Melanie and Scarlett make a difficult, dangerous journey to Tara. She, like Careen and Suellen, weeps to hear the South has lost, but mentions that she'll see Ashley again. The Wilkes move to Atlanta again, with their little boy, at Scarlett's insistence that Ashley come work in her saw mill. Melanie overrules Ashley's desire to move North and scolds him for being 'mean' to Scarlett by saying no at first.

Melanie becomes a social pillar of Atlanta, known for her charity and kindness. She even takes in an old convict, Archie. Archie, along with India Wilkes, witness Scarlett's embrace with Ashley one day at the mill. Melanie refuses to believe it, and saves Scarlett's reputation by graciously asking her to co-hostess Ashley's birthday party that night.

Melanie and Rhett continue to have a good relationship, even as Rhett and Scarlett's marriage falls apart. Rhett says Melanie is one of the few real ladies he's ever known. After Scarlett falls down the stairs and miscarries, Melanie comforts Rhett, who in a drunken state, cries on her lap, lamenting that Scarlett never loved him. He almost reveals that Scarlett has long been in love with Ashley before he realizes who he's talking to. He subsequently gives up his feelings for Scarlett and focuses his attentions on their daughter Bonnie, who later dies in a riding accident. It is Melanie that convinces Rhett to allow them to bury Bonnie after her death.

Melanie becomes pregnant again, after Dr. Meade specifically warns her against it. She weakens considerably after a miscarriage and calls Scarlett to her, tells her how much she's loved her, asks her to take care of Beau and of Ashley, and then dies. Melanie's death serves as a catalyst for the final phase of Scarlett's character growth in the book, when Scarlett mourns Melanie's death, and unselfishly thanks God for not allowing Melanie to know about Scarlett and Ashley's emotional affair.
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