Gone with the Wind has often been criticized as racist, which it certainly is. I also found that the book at times was repetitive which is not OK in a book of this length.
The book is many things at once. A lament for the old South. An argument for the new South. A war novel, a novel about defeat and, of course, a romance.
Its not really clear what the book is about. Mitchell said that the book was about survival and it was written during the Great Depression so it would have hit a cord with readers with its depictions of a fall from material grace. The dialogue is well done, maybe very well done. It is first and foremost a yarn. A very good yarn. That limits it as literature, but makes it an entertaining read.
Its great strengths are its characters. Ashley and Melanie, finely written and representing the old South and its now obsolete honour. Rhett Butler with his cynical realism. But the novel has made its reputation of the character of Scarlett O'Hara. Scarlett is a descendent of Becky Sharpe from Vanity Fair. She starts f shallow and maipulative, and becomes more and more ruthless and Machiavellian as the novel progresses. It is too Mitchell's credit that we stay through her, as she becomes more self-centred and evil, but we do.
The book is mostly a really good story. What it is saying is not at all clear, and Mitchell's writing is good but not great, but Scarlett makes the whole thing work, through some mysterious alchemy.