Scarlett O'Hara: Five Timeless Lessons in Allure

It's been 80 years since Gone with the Wind was published and both the Civil War epic and its heroine, Scarlett O'Hara, remain as mesmerizing as ever.

The first line of the novel tells us that although the young Southerner isn't beautiful, her charm and charisma bewitch the men around her. Granted she makes a mess of her love life, rejecting her hot-blooded soul mate Rhett as she pursues morose, married Ashley. But Scarlett's techniques for attracting beaux and keeping them enthralled are unbeatable.

While the cotillions and plantation barbecues of Scarlett's day are long gone, her sex appeal remains timeless and unforgettable. And the traits that make her so irresistible have lost none of their power.

1. She recognizes her assets and makes the most of them. Whether she's showing a little extra cleavage, choosing a frock to highlight her emerald eyes or putting a wiggle in her walk to make her hoopskirt sway, she knows how to play up her best features. If there were prettier girls at the Twelve Oaks party, the local bachelors were too smitten with Scarlett to bother checking them out.

2. She understands how to flirt effectively. Scarlett's appearance may send the message "Look at me!" but her flirting says "Look at you!" Later she may bring the focus back to herself, but she leads with the kind of flattery and teasing that will make any male feel dashing, manly and utterly fascinating. Wouldn't you be taken with someone who saw so many special qualities in you?

3. She's capable of being one of the boys. In an era of dainty, timid females, she's outspoken and enjoys horseback rides, hearty meals and long walks. And she won't faint, or pretend to, at the sight of spiders. Unlike the delicate belles who sullenly guard their tongues and receive all their callers in the parlor, Scarlett comes off as energetic, honest and a lot of fun to court.

4. She bravely seizes opportunities that come her way. Refusing to lie still for the customary ladies' nap when she could have all the guys to herself, she manages to declare her love to Ashley and captivate Rhett during the short time the other girls are asleep. Later, as a widow expected to be in mourning for many years, she shocks Atlanta society by accepting a very public invitation to dance. In effect, she announces to the entire town that she's back in circulation.

5. She lives and loves passionately. While she's often vain, selfish and fickle, all bets are off when it's time to follow her heart. She doesn't always love wisely but for those she cherishes--her man, her daughter, her homestead Tara--Scarlett's loyalty, strength and tenacity are boundless. Once she knows Rhett's the one for her, she resolves to bring him back home and earn his devotion once more. And despite the book's unresolved ending, we can't help believing Rhett will fall in love with her again. After all, knowing her as we do, it's hard to imagine that any man wouldn't.