"She was a tiny, frailly built girl, who gave the appearance of a child masquerading in her mother's enormous hoop skirts--an illusion that was heightened by shy, almost frightened look in her too large brown eyes. She had a cloud of curly black hair which was so sternly repressed beneath its net that no vagrant tendrils escaped, and this dark mass with its long widow's peak, accentuated the hart shape of her face. Too wide across the cheek bones, too pointed at the chin, it was a sweet, timid face but a plain face, and she had no feminine tricks of allure to make observers forget its plainness. She looked--and was--as simple as earth, as good and small of stature, there was a dedate dignity about her movements that was oddly touching and far older than her seventeen years."
(Margaret Mitchell's description of Melanie Wilkes)
I've always believed that Gone with the Wind presented -- perhaps not intentionally by its author, the spirit of the South as iconized by its 4 principal characters.
If Scarlett was the South's clenched fist raised against the destructions of war ("I shall rise again!), the other spirit is that of honor, grace and silent fortitude. A spirit best emulated by Miss Melanie Hamilton Wilkes. She would be Scarlett's one true friend who Scarlett sets aside and remains oblivious to, in face of her one true love -- that is, until the end.
Here is Tonner's Miss Melly Hamilton, 2nd in the Melanie Wilkes dolls -- and the way I see it, the best of Tonner's GWTW creations. She wears a nice pale blue (is it organza?) gown that truly complements her peaceful, serene nature. It is a gown/dress worn during the first encounter with her husband's seductress. An encounter that establishes the contrasting natures of these two characters: Scarlett's low neckline dress vs. Melanie's all-covered up sweet ensemble. Of all the Tonner dolls of Gone with the Wind, I believe this one captures the character's mood and tone. The mold is absolutely exquisite: executed with soft features and painted delicately with brown eyes and rose-red lips (something that the actress never wore and who insisted that she wear less makeup to be more in period). The doll's hairstyle is truly Victorian in design. While I am not well-versed on how these hairstyle is done done, I really think that Olivia de Havilland had rolls under her hair to create that puffed up look on the sides.
(Image from www.achievement.org)
Miss Melly comes with a very rough tulle that spreads her dress edged with 3 layers of ruffles. Her pink sash is pleated and accented with 2 long sashes on the side. The doll's bonnet is also a charmer; also accented with the pale pink sash color, with a ready ribbon on which hooks are attached to hold keep the ribbon intact (saves the doll collector the tiring task of making the perfect ribbon). The pink sash sash on the skirt and the ribbon on the bonnet have white satin that outlines its shape. Miss Melly Hamilton comes with pale blue pumps, without a buckle similar to the 1st Tonner Melanie (which I think was really more in period).
Her gray organdie dress, with its cherry-colored satin sash, disguised with its billows and ruffles how childishly underdeveloped her body was, and the yellow hat with cherry streamers made her creamy skin glow.
(Margaret Mitchell's description of Melanie's dress at Twelve Oaks whereupon she meets Scarlett)
Black lace gloves protect Miss Mellie's fragile hands.
Three layers of ruffles adorn the edge of this dress.
It is hard to think that this doll requires anymore repainting as she is beautiful as she is. However, I am still finding time to finally venture into painting an Olivia as Melanie. After doing so many Scarletts, it's hard to get a paradigm shift -- spoiled Southern belle to graceful one.
The doll has many possibilities too aside from being a Melanie, since it isn't done in the likeness of the actress. One could do a Jane Eyre, or a young Queen Victoria with it -- and if you do repaints professionally, the shape of the face could make her a Jackie O -- with the right hairstyle of course. But that is taking the spirit out of this nice Civil War masterpiece.
"...under his smile, a little sparkle had come into Melanie's eyes, so that even Scarlett had to admit that she looked almost pretty. As Melanie looked at Ashley, her plain face lit up as with an inner fire,
for if ever a loving heart showed itself upon a face, it was showing now in Melanie Hamilton's".
(Gone with the Wind)