Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery and Her Book Anne of Green Gables
Have you ever heard the name of book Anne of Green Gables? Probably, many people read this book when they are young. By the way, the author of this book is Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although she is not an inventor, she is one of the greatest literary scholars. She gave a dream to many people in the world by writing attractive story. I entertain a deep respect for her so I am going to introduce her life and the works.
First, I introduce her life. Actually, her life was full of ups and downs. She was born in Prince Edward Island in 1874. However, unfortunately, her mother died of a disease called tubercular when she was 1 years old. She was too small to understand what happened. Then, she was brought up by her grandparents. However, her daily life was full of loneliness. “ her grandparents showed her little affection and her childhood was predominantly one of loneliness and isolation, feelings that would remain familiar to her throughout her life” (Andrew McIntosh, Cecily Devereux). Although she didn’t have mother, she had a friend. It was nature that she felt friend. She communed with nature and found the call of the sea and forest. In other words, she knew everything of nature. It was invaluable experience for her because she was awed by the sight and affected the creative writing. Although her childhood was lonely, she had a good imagination by entertaining the wonderful nature. Then, she wrote a novel when she was a teenager and she succeeded. Since she was beautiful woman, she contacted with many men. Thanks to these experiences, she eventually published the book Anne of Green Gables in 1908. Fortunately, this book was highly acclaimed by many critics and people in the world. She received the great award by writing this book. Sometimes, during the time when she was writing the story was full of an internal struggle or inner conflict, she built a career as an author.
Second, I’m going to talk about the affection brought by the Montgomery’s work Anne of Green Gables. Although this book belongs as children’s literature, many people read this book regardless of their age. For example, the immigrant who were going to Canada read this book to learn culture and custom. It is good way to adapt at Canada. In Japan, during the World War 2, Hanako Muraoka who impressed by this book translated this book from English into Japanese. “ Muraoka brought out her translation of Anne. Ever since, Anne has been a part of Japanese culture, with her exotic red hair and comic outspokenness” (Cultural Tourists – L.M. Montgomery’s Impact Globally). Thanks to her action, many Japanese people read this book and impressed by Anne’s courage and passion. Eventually, the anime based on Anne of Green Gables broadcasted. On the contrary in Canada, this book provided the great economic benefit. Many tourists visited Prince Edward Island where Montgomery’s hometown. In other words, her work was not only loved by many people, but also used as an economic strategy.
In conclusion, I think that her work is affected by her life. Many experiences made her woks something great because her works express every feeling from joy to sorrow. So, many people in the world are sympathetic to her works. Then, people of all ages read her books. “The Anne books and films relate to people of all ages. And the level of interest that adults seem to take in them rises beyond passion” (Why Adults Read – Anne of Green Gables). They entertained “enjoyment of reading”. I respect her and I want to read her works. I want to be such a wonderful person so I am going to study hard.
Femininity and Gender Stereotypes in Eight Cousins and Anne of Green Gables
As opined by Dolan, the theme of femininity and also gender stereotypes had formed an integral part of the different literary works which had been composed over the years. In this regard, Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables are important ones since both of them are redolent with the themes of femininity and gender stereotypes. Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins (1875) narrates the story of Rose Campbell, a sickly and lonely girl, who is sent to the home of her aunts and uncles after the death of her parents while highlighting the manner in she copes with life and finds happiness (Garcia). On the other hand, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908) narrates the adventures of an eleven year old orphan girl named Anne Shirley, who is mistakenly sent to a family who has asked a boy (Shields). Gender stereotypes is the most important theme which dominates the two literary works under discussion here and the protagonists of the two novels, namely, Rose Campbell and Anne Shirley show a high level of femininity. This compare and contrast essay intends to analyze Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables in the particular context of the themes of femininity and gender stereotypes.
Femininity forms an integral character trait of the characters of Rose Campbell and Anne Shirley and rather than just being a character trait the particular concept had being deeply ingrained within the plot of the two literary works under discussion here by their respective authors. For example, it is seen that Rose Campbell, the protagonist of Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins is highly feminine in nature and displays the major character traits which the girls of her age normally display (Proehl). As a matter of fact, it is seen that despite being forced to live in a family which is not her own and also with seven boys who as a matter of fact are her cousins it is seen that she tries to retain the major feminine characters that are peculiar of girls. She justifies this behavior of her through the words “It is necessary to do right; it is not necessary to be happy” (Alcott). In the particular context of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables it is also seen that the character trait of femininity dominates the personality of its protagonist, namely, Anne Shirley. For instance, it is seen that upon coming to know that she had been mistakenly sent to the family of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who rather than a girl wanted a boy she accepts her present situation with feminine grace and dignity (Blewett). More importantly, rather than protesting against the situation and thereby seeking a remedy it is seen that she tries her best fit into the family to which she had been sent by becoming a part of the same (Blair and Thompson). This aspect of her character becomes apparent from the line “It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable” wherein she explains her decision to stay at the home of Matthew and also her desire to have fashionable clothes (Maud). In addition to this, it is seen that just like Rose Campbell of Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins she also spends a substantial amount of formative years with the boys of the house that she had been sent to yet she tries to retain the dignity or the grace of her character or for that matter her femininity. Thus, it can be said that in terms of the presentation of the theme of femininity and also the manner in which the protagonists display the same both of the literary works under discussion here are largely similar in nature.
Rose Campbell and Anne Shirley, the protagonists of the literary works under discussion here form friendship with the other female characters in a bid to retain the feminine nature or the aspect of their character. In the particular context of Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins, it is seen that Rose Campbell forms a friendship with Phebe, the young housemaid at the home of her aunt (Garcia). It is pertinent to note that this friendship which shares with Phebe not only brings the much needed happiness or joy in her otherwise mundane life but at the same time teaches her many important values of life as well. For instance, from Phebe she is able to learn the manner in which one can be happy or cheerful in life even when the situations or the circumstances are adverse in nature (Williamson). As a matter of fact, it is seen that from the relationship which she shares with Phebe she is being able to learn that “A happy soul in a healthy body makes the best sort of beauty for man or woman” (Alcott). On the other hand, it is seen that within Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables as well the protagonist of the novel Anne Shirley resorts to female friends or friendship as a way to bring the much needed happiness or the joy in her life and also to maintain the feminine aspect of her personality. For example, it is seen that just like Rose Campbell she also establishes different kinds of friendships or friendly relationships with the girls whom she encounters in the educational institution at which she studies or other places (Shields). In particular, mention needs to be made of the friendship which she shares with Diana Barry, the girl who lives in the house next door. Furthermore, Anne describes her as a ‘bosom friend’ and the time that she shares with her makes her forget the mundane life that she had to live in the house of Matthew (Blair and Thompson). Commenting on the friendship that she shares with Danny she says that “True friends are always together in spirit” (Maud). However, at the same time it needs to be said that along with the friendship that she shares with Danny she shares a rivalry with Gilbert Blythe, who does her best to make the life of Anne a miserable one (Blewett). This rivalry that she shares with Blythe is very peculiar of the feminine gender wherein it is seen that the girls generally fight or tease each other over petty things like the color of their skin, hair length or quality and others. In the light of these aspects, it can be said that the construct of female friendship is an important entity which had been used by the authors in the literary works under discussion here to elucidate the theme of femininity.
An important theme of Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is gender stereotyping. For example, in Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins it is seen that Rose Campbell is required to behave and live in the manner in which her seven boy cousins live. More importantly, although she lives with her aunts it is seen that she is placed under a guardian since it was considered inappropriate for girls to live without a male guardian or protector (Williamson). Furthermore, the process of gender stereotyping also becomes apparent from the unorthodox teaching strategies especially designed for girls, which is being followed within the novel for the purpose of her upbringing and education. On the other hand, within the novel Anne of Green Gables it is seen that the family of Matthew wants to adopt a boy since they are likely to further the prospects of their family rather than the girl and this is one of the major reasons why Anne in the beginning sections of the novel feels unwelcomed at the home (Shields). Thus, it can be said that the theme of gender stereotyping is another important common aspect between the two novels or literary works under discussion here.
To conclude, Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables although differ in terms of the story that they narrate yet at the same time it is seen that they are largely similar in terms of the themes that they highlights. For example, the above discussion makes it apparent that the themes of femininity and gender stereotyping are common in both the literary works and also deeply ingrained within the plots of the novels. Furthermore, the effective usage of these themes have not only rendered effectiveness to the two novels but at the same time enhanced the reading pleasure of the same as well.
- Alcott, Louisa May. Eight Cousins. Xist Publishing, 2015.
- Blair, Kirstie, and William V. Thompson. The Mood of the Golden Age: Paganism, Ecotheology and the Wild Woods in LM Montgomery’s Anne and Emily Series. Literature and Theology 30.2 (2016): 131-147.
- Blewett, Kelly. An Unfortunate Lily Maid: Transgressive Reading in Anne of Green Gables. The Lion and the Unicorn 39.3 (2015): 275-293.
- Dolan, Kathryn Cornell. Her Daily Bread: Food and Labor in Louisa May Alcott. American Literary Realism 48.1 (2015): 40-57.
- Garcia, Angela M. Alcott, Louisa May. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. 2017.
- Maud, Montgomery Lucy. Anne of Green Gables. Strelbytskyy Multimedia, 2017.
- Proehl, Kristen. Sympathetic Childhoods: Girl Orphans, Adoptions, and Reimagined Families in Sentimental Literature. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 43.1 (2015): 295-298.
- Shields, Rob. Lifelong Sorrow: Settler Affect, State and Trauma at Anne of Green Gables. Settler Colonial Studies 8.4 (2018): 518-536.
- Williamson, Beata. Henry James, Louisa May Alcott, and the Child. Beyond Philology An International Journal of Linguistics, Literary Studies and English Language Teaching14/3 (2017): 113-129.
The Significance of Food in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Anne of Green Gables
Children’s literature has used the theme of food since the very beginning to clearly describe the internal disputes and conflicts that the characters have within themselves. In Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, food symbolizes the growing maturity in both Anne and Edmund. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, composed by C. S. Lewis in 1950, Edmund’s most prominent weakness is his gratification which is used against him by the White Witch. In the novel, food is reflected as the actual struggle the children went through during World War two due to controlled distribution. On the contrary, L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908 uses food as well to reflect the impact of rationing and starvation caused by the catastrophic Irish famine of the mid-nineteenth century (Donnelly, 2017). In both novels, the growth in maturity is seen as the children slowly progress into adults. This is evident through the use of food as symbols for power and control, the desire for food seen as a metaphor for sexual hunger and teaching important lessons by using food as a medium. Both Montgomery and Lewis discuss the transition from childhood to adulthood through the concept of food.
In both novels, food is utilized to display power and control by the guardian of the children. The children are dependant on their parents to provide them with shelter, clothing, and food. Although Edmund is raised well, he lacks parental guidance. When the White Witch offers him a “very sweet and foamy and creamy” drink, it is symbolizing a mother who provides milk to her children (Lewis, 37). This quote defines the missing piece in Edmund’s life and how the milk symbolizes that. Similiarly, Anne and her mother bond over social events such as teatime but her mother’s cooking restricts Anne from self-realizing and imagining. When Anne wanted to be called Cordelia, she was refused as the name Anne was plain and suited her better. This demonstrates the control and authority Marilla has over Anne. Anne’s rejection over the cooked food and returning of the daily bread demonstrates Anne’s potential to fight back against authority and control. In both novels, Edmund and Anne are controlled by the power of their mothers but ultimately make the choice to either be restrained by that power or be free without it.
The children growing and maturing is shown in the novels by the rituals of food using food as a motif to spread a message. Accepting the role of cooking as a young girl demonstrates Anne’s independence and ability to take on responsibility. In the novel Anne of Green Gables, Anne rejects the idea of cooking and refuses the responsibility, proving she has still not entered womanhood. Montgomery writes, “growing cold when she thinks of her layer cake…and dreaming…that she was chased all around by a fearful goblin with a big layer cake for a head (Montgomery 172). The quote proves the youth that remains in Anne and how much she is yet to learn. Anne also says “There’s so little scope for imagination in cookery” (Montgomery 124). This shows how cooking is seen as oppressive and not for creativity, which is why Anne was so against it. Although as Anne gets older, she sacrifices her education and scholarship to look after Marilla which also includes cooking. The maturity that develops throughout the novel in Anne is really shown through her interest in cooking. Not only does she provide food to her mother but also supports her financially as the roles are now reversed. This decision Anne made was based on her love for Marilla which proves not only her growth as a woman but more importantly her growth from a child to an adult.
In distinction to Anne’s journey from childhood to adulthood, Edmund’s maturity is shown by signifying his sexual frustration through food. Like Anne’s denial of taking on the responsibility of cooking, Edmund’s loss of control over food shows his immaturity as his desires are worldly and therefore he still is not independent. For example, in the novel, it states “Please, please…please couldn’t I have just one piece of Turkish Delight to eat on the way home?” (Lewis 42) Edmund is unable to control his temptations for the sweets which symbolize sex. Jadis tries to lure him with her offering which makes him impure. The Turkish delight represents a typical adolescent’s obsession with sex. Montgomery describes Edmund’s “face had become very red and his mouth and fingers were sticky,” which places emphasis on the sexual atmosphere (Lewis, 40). Jadis’s red lips also hold a sensual expression towards Edmund which symbolizes further sexual intentions. The impact of red in this situation is comparable to the class discussion on Little Red Riding Hood, where red in that novel showcases imagery of a woman’s menstruation and the loss of virginity. Edmund’s interaction with food is connected with his sexual desires while Anne’s responsibility for cooking is associated with her becoming an adult.
Both Montgomery and Lewis include a righteous lesson for their audience. Anne was a character who started off as authentic and curious, and imaginative but then surpassed these traits to become matured. Anne’s imagination was her greatest strength yet it was her weakness as well, controlling her own self was one of her biggest struggles internally. In the novel, “when Anne carried the pudding sauce in, she was imagining she was a nun…taking the veil to bury a broken heart in cloistered seclusion” (Montgomery, 125). In these moments when she imagines is often the times are food is spoiled, like the time she embarrassed Marilla in front of a guest. Good dishes prove Anne’s maturity and independence while spoiled food represents her immaturity and showcase her flaws. Created fantasies at inappropriate times can lead to failure is what the author is trying to teach the young audience. Overall, Montgomery cherishes the breezy childhood days, yet she also limits and tames Anne’s fantasies to gain control over her mind through good and spoiled food so she can progress to becoming an adult and reaching her full potential.
Montgomery expresses a moral lesson through a connectable character whereas Lewis directly utilizes a biblical reference to reach the audience. For example, “How Aslan [a Christ figure] provided food for them all I don’t know” (Lewis 108). This reference is of when Jesus fed a crowd with very little food. Along with teaching the audience a valuable lesson, Lewis also emphasizes relevant teachings from the bible. Another example is “the streams would run with wine instead of water” (Lewis 17). Food and drinks are referenced to plenty which is Lewis’s message; God is trusted to provide with plenty without any limits. When Lewis mentions “You can think how good the new-caught fish smelled while they were frying and how the hungry children longed for them to be done,” he is differentiating between wholesome meals and unhealthy sweets (Lewis 80). The rich siblings eat healthy foods and later a surprise dessert by Mrs. Beaver’s rolls, proving the responsibility of eating in moderation. Sweets foods symbolize the lack of morality whereas nourishing food fuels and symbolizes morals, faith, and family. To further showcase biblical lessons, the Turkish Delight offered to Edmund connects to the forbidden fruit of the tree which tempted Eve. The Turkish Delight and the fruit of knowledge are both related to the shortcomings of mankind and the presence of evil. Lewis clearly states “there’s nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food” to link the two similar concepts (Lewis, 95). Both authors incorporate references from the bible to further educate their young audience.
Food in both C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables plays a significant role in getting the message across. The process of both the main characters becoming adults is represented clearly through the use of food. The adults that control the food have control. The children surpass the barriers to transition into adulthood only when they gain full control over their food whether it be Lewis’s Edmund or Montgomery’s Anne. Anne takes the responsibility of the cooking and becomes independent while Edmund discovered his urges and tries to manage them. Both authors use food to symbolize moral lessons and get a message across to their audience. Although both books are very different with different genres, they both showcase righteous teachings through their representation of food while portraying the journey of both children into their adult years by the help from others to feel content with themselves as well as others.
Anne of Green Gables. Character Review
Anne of Green Gables is classic novel that was written by the author Lucy Maud Montgomery. It has been read by people of all ages for decades. The book is about a young orphan girl named Anne Shirley who is adopted by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Some features in the book are Anne’s amazing personality, adjusting to her new life in Green Gables, and her relationship with the Cuthbert’s.
Anne Shirley is the main character of the book Anne of Green Gables. She is pale, skinny and has the most vivid red hair. Anne is very spirited and animated majority of the time. She can also be stubborn to do something she does not prefer or to prove a point. Her vocabulary is overflowing and she loves to speak of her incredible imaginations. Although Anne is constantly daydreaming, she can be serious when it is necessary. Anne is very friendly and is liked by everyone, but if she is insulted she bursts into a dreadful temper which she tries to control.
Matthew Cuthbert was a very shy and kindhearted man. Marilla was a sharp and was not fond of humor. Matthew and Marilla had decided to adopt a young boy to help them with their everyday chores on their farm, but due to complications they receive a young girl, Anne. Matthew convinced Marilla that they were going to keep Anne because of her unique point of view. Marilla said that id Anne were to stay in Green Gables, there were many changes to be made. Anne was not brought up the way Marilla had wanted so she would have to reconstruct some character traits in Anne. Anne was to do everything any other child in Green Gables would do, she would have to use proper manners, go to school, and complete chores. She made many friends and was tied with another as the most intelligent pupil.
When Marilla first met Anne, she struggled to accept the fact that she felt a bit of compassion for her. She would feel a motherly sensation with Anne but never displayed it. Matthew liked Anne from the moment she spoke. He adored her because she would speak and did not expect an answer. After caring for Anne for so long, Matthew and Marilla appreciated Anne and did not know what they would do without her. Unfortunately as the Cuthbert’s grew older Matthew died of a shock induced heart attack. He learned that their bank had failed which left Anne and Marilla devastated. But as time passed the devastation left. Anne became a teacher and taught in Green Gables to take care of Marilla.
In conclusion, some of the characteristics of Anne of Green Gables are Anne’s wonderful personality, adapting to her new life and her relationship with the Cuthbert’s. Overall I consider Anne of Green Gables to be a magnificent novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because it was captivating and I felt as if I were a part of the story. It provided well-defined detail and emotion. I also intend on reading the books that follow.
Anne of Green Gables. Theme Analysis.
This story, ‘Anne of Green Gables’, talks about an orphan named Anne Shirley. This whole story starts with a mistake. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert wanted to adopt a boy, instead they got a skinny, red-haired, freckled-faced girl. They were going to bring her back to the orphanage, but after spending time with this poor girl, they started to like her, and soon, she became part of the family. Anne is a talkative girl with a great imagination. She always thought that the opinion of someone’s fashion tells who they really are. Anne always wanted a family. As Anne grows up with the Cuthberts, she turned from melodramatic and romantic into focusing on her education and achievements. Throughout her life with the Cuthberts, Anne discovered love and friendship.
There are two major themes in this novel. One, is the conflict between imagination and social expectations. This has to do with Anne’s daydreaming and imagining which made her keep going the wrong directions. She was in her own fantasy world when she was supposed to complete her chores and do her responsibilities. Marilla doesn’t believe in imagination, which made Anne hard to understand why. She is often mad with Anne for being so careless in everything she does due to her imagination. Anne tries her best to pay attention to what is happening in the real world, but her fantasy world is always pulling her back and giving her pleasures that she cannot pull away from. But as she grows older, she started to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.
Another theme is the conflict between emotion and sentimentality. Anne cannot separate real emotions with sentimentality. This has happened due to her childhood experiences with the loss of her parents. Anne was scared because of this experience. She was alone and she was not treated with love, like most children have, but with carelessness and cruelty. Anne does know her true emotions, but she feels painful with it, so she has her sentimentality to give her pleasure. Anne doesn’t want to be hurt again. She uses sentimentality to keep her from feeling true emotions. But, by the end of the novel, Anne, once again felt true emotions, which is pain. Matthew, the person closest to her, died of a heart attack. She once again, experienced the real loss of someone she loves and cares about. She then realizes that this is true emotion and not sentimentality, and that she can’t keep hiding from it.
This story teaches you to cherish the ones in front of you. Just like how Anne cherished Matthew and Marilla as they welcome her to Green Gables. This novel also helps you understand why Anne wants to be adopted so badly. She wanted someone to love her and care for her, unlike the times she was treated badly and was being used. Anne has been through ups and downs in her life. Anne trying to fit in and is always sensitive about her ‘carrot’ hair was one of the hard times. She always feels she is not like everyone else, she thinks everyone is pretty and fashionable, but she was just a skinny girl with red hair. But in the end, she realizes that all that doesn’t matter, what matters is to be with your loved ones. Throughout this novel, with lots of love and care, and it teaches us that money and looks isn’t everything and it doesn’t matter in life, but who you really are inside does.
Anne’s Identity in Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Everyone faces challenges in their lives. People learn and grow through their experiences and develop certain qualities because of them. Experiences can shape people in a positive or negative way, depending on what kind of person they are. In Anne of Green Gables, the protagonist, Anne, constantly struggles to establish her identity. She had a difficult childhood and indulges in imagining alternate realities but her acceptance into the Avonlea community shapes her new life and helps her develop etiquettes and mannerisms. Through the course of the book, she learns to grow into a socially acceptable person while maintaining her passion and interests. Anne’s past as a foster child causes her to struggle with her identity but teaches her to be independent and imaginative. Her unfortunate experiences encourage her to strive towards success and establish herself as a teacher.
Anne has grown up in an environment where she has never felt completely accepted. She goes from home to home in search of a family but ends up fulfilling the role of temporary nanny. When Anne firsts moves into Green Gables, she begs and pleads Marilla to let her stay. When Marilla asks Anne if her past families were good to her, Anne looks embarrassed and responds, “”Oh, they MEANT to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them,” (Chapter V). Anne has never felt like a real member of a family. This experience causes her to crave stability and empowers her to become a teacher. After lacking a permanent home, she is extra-focused on attaining stability. This passion is exemplified in the way she is completely consumed by her studies. Throughout her middle and high school career, she always comes out at the top of her class. Anne pushes herself to compete with other intellectually-inclined pupils and maintains an optimistic outlook throughout the book. Her ambition is shaped by her past experiences and her lack of guidance pushes her grow up and become a teacher. She wants to provide children with guidance that she did not have access to when she was in dire need.
Society places expectations on women that shapes them from when they are children. Anne grew up in orphanages. She was never expected to be prim and proper, the most expected from her was to fix her bed and stay quiet. Unfortunately, rules changed once she was adopted by Matthew and Marilla. In Avonlea, people expect Anne to be a lady. Ladies must respond to all situations positively and deal with tragedies in a calm manner. When Anne is first visited by one of Marilla’s friends, the friend claims that Anne is rather ‘homely’. This angers Anne beyond belief and she lashes out at the women, calling her things like ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. At first, Marilla is shocked by Anne’s behaviour but soon realizes that Anne never had anyone to teach her right from wrong. Societal expectations were not previously implemented on Anne. Additionally, beauty expectations were also present during this time period. People loved little blonde girls and Anne’s fiery red hair was considered unappealing. Over the course of the book, Anne learns to adapt to certain rules of society, such as being a well-mannered lady while maintaining certain attributes (eg. hair color). She grows to love herself and accept her flaws despite what society expects of her. She values her personal opinions more than anyone else’s. Another reason Anne fails to completely adapt to society’s rules is her obsession with daydreams and fantasies. She is so obsessed with what her reality should look like often forgets what it actually is. She’s caught up in a permanent daydream and tends to forget to complete assigned tasks. Her imagination causes her to disregard reality and results in several messes. She burns cakes, and almost drowns herself while acting out these ridiculous fantasies. As time goes on, Anne paints herself a more achievable dream: becoming a teacher. Her goal has now become attainable and she strives to fulfill it.
Anne’s dreams were contorted due to events in her lifetime. When Marilla fell ill, she had no one to take care of her and Anne had to make a decision between attending a prestigious university or taking care of Marilla. Anne expected a lot from herself and she thought the only barrier between her and university would be herself. She ultimately decides to stay with Marilla and pursue a teaching career in Avonlea. Despite all of her efforts, Anne’s main focus was not her education but rather, the well-being of her family. Her lack of love from when she was orphaned causes her to place extra value in caring for other people. This moment defines her personality because it establishes exactly what kind of person Anne is. She cares for other people more than she cares for herself and even when she declines the university offer, she remains optimistic. Anne says “When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. . . . Now there is a bend in it. . . . It has a fascination of its own, that bend” (Chapter 38). Her ability to find comfort in even the most difficult situations is her main defining quality and Marilla’s sickness leads to her self-discovery.
Anne Shirley is a complex character who, while growing up, learns to maintain a balance between fantasy and reality. She learns to put the needs of other people before her own and continues to see positivity in everything. Her lack of guidance as a child urges her to become a teacher and her past experiences give her hope for the future. Anne follows certain rules of Avonlea while staying true to her character: her imagination and personality experience small changes but stay intact. She learns that she cares more about her family rather than her education and grows up to be a teacher. Anne’s childhood and her conflicts shaped her into an imaginative young woman, who values people and refuses to conform.
The Meaning of Name in Anne of Green Gables
A name is an intrinsic characteristic of an object: that is, a name represents the object and explains it most implicitly. This is the reason why people tell their names first when they introduce themselves, get little bit upset when their names are called in a wrong way, and decide a baby’s name carefully. Furthermore, the study of naming, which believes that name decides one’s entire life, is activated in Eastern countries. Here is a girl who puts emphasis on name as much as scholars of this study: the little orphan girl, Anne Shirley, who turns naming into one of the central issues in the novel that bears her name, Anne of Green Gables.
Through out the whole book, Anne puts strong stress on naming. She wants her own name to be different, puts special names on all the beautiful things like road, lake, geranium, cherry tree, pond, forest, and etc, and avoids calling the name of her competitor. Indeed, there are two main reasons that Anne emphasizes naming so much, and how these affects Anne’s behavior and the novel. First, Anne identifies the name with the object, and tries to change viewpoints through naming. She says to Marilla, “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage” (38). To Anne, if name changes, her perspective on the object changes accordingly, even though the object remains the same. That is, name is more important than any other thing to Anne in defining the object.
This means that she could change her viewpoints through changing name romantically. This is the main reason why she sticks to her name. At the first meeting with Anne and Marilla, she implores to Marilla, “Will you please call me Cordelia? […] but oh, please do call me Cordelia. […] But if you call me Anne please call me Anne with an e” (24, 25; emphasis added). Also, when Mr. Phillips spells her name without an e, she says, “The iron has entered into my soul” (113). To Anne, a mere letter, which has no affect on pronunciation, is so significant, because: “When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much distinguished” (25). In other words, it is so important for her name to be distinguished, as Anne wants to be “divinely beautiful” and believes that the perspective on the objects changes according to its name (17). Thus, she is trying to view objects more romantically, through changing name which is identical with the object.
Second, naming shows her affection about others and how her harsher life than others affected Anne. In fact, others also know that name is somewhat important. People want to have a good name, and enterprises decide their name carefully. However, they do not emphasize naming as much as Anne. An ordinary person would just name the road ‘the Avenue’ rather than ‘the White Way of Delight.’ She or he would not give special name to all of the road, lake, geranium, cherry tree, pond, forest, and etc, even though they are so beautiful. What makes this difference is thoughtful attitude resulted from her hard life as an orphan girl.
First of all, keep in mind that naming shows affection and interests toward the object that one likes. Imagine how parents would feel when they decide the name of their dear baby. They would be very thrilled and happy, hoping that they could find the best name for their baby. This is how Anne feels when she gives name to “fascinating” things. When she ponders on the name that exactly fits with the object, she cares about the object so much that the process of naming “crowd[s] other things out” (121). Through the process, she puts her best efforts that she refuses the name that “Anybody can think of” (106). When she finds one through that process, she knows that it “is the right name for it”, as she feels like this: “When I hit on a name that suits exactly it gives me a thrill” (19). That is, her continuous naming is resulted from affection and the thrill she feels.
Then, why does Anne show affection on so many beautiful things so much more than others? Before coming to Avonlea, Anne lived a life that Marilla expressed as “a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect” (41). She does not want others to go through these hardships like her. For example, she does not want to forget even imaginary friends as “They would feel so hurt if I [forgot] and I’d hate to hurt anybody’s feelings, even a little bookcase girl’s or a little echo girl’s” (61). Also, she says, “when I am grown up, I’m always going to talk to little girls as if they were, too, and I’ll never laugh when they use big words. I know from sorrowful experience how that hurts one’s feelings” (146, 147; emphasis added). This thoughtful attitude is resulted from her own history which was harsher than others.
Now, here’s how this attitude is connected with naming. The opposite thing of affection is being disregarded. As naming shows affection, she thinks that it is neglecting the object not to give name that fits with it. Thus she tries to give names to many objects, especially beautiful things. For example, when she sees ‘the Avenue’, she says, “they shouldn’t call that lovely place the Avenue. There is no meaning in a name like that” (18). That is, she tries to show affection about objects, whose values are neglected by others, by giving name. Furthermore, this is also the very reason why she does not want to say name of Gilbert-to show disregard and no affection intentionally. On the contrary, that she calls Gilbert’s name after forgiving him shows that she started to respect and like Gilbert. Thus, naming is a tool for Anne to express her considerate mind formed through harsh past.
Naming plays the role of showing who Anne is implicitly and more clearly. If Anne did not care about naming, it would have been harder to find out how Anne tries to view the world hopefully and romantically. That is, making Anne regard naming importantly is a method to emphasize the theme of the novel. That Anne would find romance in her life and be thoughtful even if life is so harsh carries the message that the reader, too can assert individuality, even through a task as simple as naming.
The Rejection of Maternalism in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
“‘I wouldn’t be in that orphan’s shoes for anything” – The Rejection of Maternalism in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
Maternalism is a huge theme in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables; however, not in the usual way. Typically, women are believed to inherit a number of maternal qualities, or rather, a wealth of knowledge on how to raise children. In Anne of Green Gables, the rejection of this belief is quite evident. Marilla’s uneasiness towards Anne is seen immediately after their first meeting, showing that she lacks the “mother’s intuition,” while Mathew connects with Anne immediately. Though Marilla attempts to punish Anne properly, again, it is Mathew who achieves what Marilla fails in doing. Additionally, Marilla must constantly remind herself to give Anne advice in order for her to grow up properly and yet, Mathew is a complete natural in aiding Anne to live her best life. In terms of maternalism, Marilla should be the one excelling at all of the motherly duties; however, Mathew is constantly one-upping her without even trying. L.M. Montgomery’s novel, Anne of Green Gables, rejects the notion of maternalism through Marilla’s incompetence as a mother and Mathew’s achievement in everything that Marilla seems to struggle with, rendering maternalism absurd and proving that being a good parent has nothing to do with gender.
All women are supposed to bear the maternal instincts which would allow for them to understand and connect with a child immediately; however this novel proves that belief wrong. Marilla immediately states that Anne “will have to be sent back to the asylum” (80). Marilla is simply bewildered by the fact that Mathew, who would rather Anne stay in Green Gables with them, has already developed a sense of fondness for the girl. Marilla lacks a connection with Anne that Mathew has right from the beginning. Marilla wants a boy to do the work on their property – not a family member. She does not feel as though there is any reason to keep Anne in her home as there is no way, in Marilla’s mind, that Anne could ever contribute anything to the household – a very unmaternal perception. Women are thought to encompass a desire for raising a child; however, Anne of Green Gables proves this wrong by perceiving Marilla as the skeptical one and Mathew as the maternal figure.
In order to be a maternal figure, one must actually enjoy the company of children. Mathew displays this right away, while Marilla takes quite a while to get used to Anne and accept her. Mathew meets Anne for the first time and although he acknowledges that there is definitely something strange about her, he admits to “[enjoying] the society” of Anne (67). Mathew understands immediately that Anne is a good girl with a good heart. He proceeds to say that he usually does not like the company of little girls; however, he feels as though Anne is different from the other girls in the best way. His intuitive knowledge aids him in developing an immediate connection with Anne – one that is thought of to be formed between child and mother. The fact that Mathew gets along with Anne so quickly after meeting her would not be so significant if it were not for the contrasting relationship between this orphan girl and Marilla. Clearly, this depicts the idea that maternalism is inaccurate in determining one’s ability to raise a child.
As a woman, Marilla should have the maternal instinct which allows for her to properly relate to a child and punish them accordingly; however, that is not the case with Marilla. After Anne loses her temper to Mrs. Lynde during their first meeting, Marilla is the one who takes it upon herself to punish Anne. Marilla decides to send Anne to her room, only allowing her out should she decide to apologize to Mrs. Lynde. Marilla does not try to sympathize with the obviously hurt, Anne. Instead, she focuses solely on ensuring that Anne redeems herself by asking Mrs. Lynde for forgiveness. Anne proceeds to stay in her room and refuses to apologize. As a woman, Marilla should have the maternal instinct which allows for her to properly punish a child effectively; however, that is not the case with Marilla. Fortunately for Anne, Mathew seems to embody the maternalism that Marilla lacks.
Mathew accomplishes what Marilla is unable to do: convince Anne to apologize to Mrs. Lynde. He connects with Anne by telling her that “[it is] terrible lonesome down-stairs without [her],” creating a sympathetic bond between the two of them which Marilla lacks (119). Mathew is able to connect with Anne on a level that Marilla is un-capable of at this point. Mathew speaks to Anne in this way without a second thought simply because he is a natural at what is inaccurately deemed maternalism. Through this, Mathew is demolishing the notion that all women are born with maternal characteristics. Anne does not even put up a fight when Mathew asks her to apologize; she agrees almost immediately. The ease in which Mathew is able to accomplish this task seems deliberate when paired with Marilla’s failed attempt – as if to emphasize the senseless notion that women are natural-born mothers. This further proves that maternalism is a hoax and that being a good parent has nothing to do with gender.
Additionally, Marilla constantly has to consider her words carefully when speaking to Anne. She is continuously reminding herself that she must instill values in Anne in order to raise her properly. There are countless instances when Marilla stifles her laughter and contemplates a response towards Anne, showing her incompetence within the world of parenting. After Anne takes Marilla’s hand in her own, Marilla admits that “[its] very unaccustomedness and sweetness disturbed her. She hastened to restore her sensations to their normal calm by inculcating a moral” (123). Many would consider Marilla’s ability to be consciously inflicting morals onto Anne as an admirable feature in a motherly character; however, it merely illustrates her ineptness. Marilla’s advice for Anne never comes naturally, meaning that she always has to remind herself that she is responsible for raising Anne. In terms of maternalism, teaching a child right from wrong should be second nature to a woman and yet, Marilla is always having to recall this fact so as not to raise her improperly. Perhaps the fact that Marilla seems to be anything but natural at parenting is not entirely significant on its own; however, Marilla’s inability combined with Mathew’s ability is what renders this so important.
Mathew never questions what he should say to Anne; he just simply knows. Anne pledges to Marilla that she will stop being so “romantic” as it gets her into a lot of trouble and is “not appreciated now” (261). Marilla is content with this; however, Mathew takes it upon himself to ensure that Anne stays true to who she is. Once Marilla exits the room, Mathew explains to Anne that she should not “‘give up all [of her] romance… a little of it is a good thing – not too much, of course – but keep a little of it” (262). Mathew does not contemplate giving Anne this advice, nor does he do it because that is merely what a parent does; he tells Anne this simply because he feels that it is necessary. Mathew’s ability to speak to Anne and advise her in such a natural way while Marilla struggles time and time again only supports the fact that this novel is anti-maternal.
Though Marilla is Anne’s mother figure, she is not the parent who displays the maternal qualities. Marilla quite clearly does not have any knowledge on how to bring up a child and yet, according to maternalism, she should. This fact, along with Mathew’s natural parenting ability, proves the idea of maternalism wrong. Marilla does not feel an immediate connection with Anne, nor does she know how to punish or advise Anne without excess contemplation. Mathew, on the other hand, is able to do all of this flawlessly. Maternalism in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is a major theme and yet it rejects all of the ideals that go along with maternalism through the incompetent Marilla and the skilled Mathew.
Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. Edited by Cecily Devereux, Broadview editions, Broadview Press Ltd., 2004.
Womanhood in Anne of Green Gables
There is ample dispute over L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: whether it is a feminist novel, whether is it supposed to be a feminist novel and what it is actually suggesting about women. Montgomery disassociated herself from the feminist movement; nonetheless she believed that women ought to have the right to vote (Cecily, 27). We can see evidence of her views in the women of Avonlea. Anne of Green Gables was written primarily as a ‘girl’s novel,’ in which women are expected to behave a certain way and embody certain characteristics. In this novel, gender difference is affirmed, but inequality is not (Montgomery and Cecily, 26). The women in Avonlea are primarily traditional, remaining in the home and raising families, but they are strong and have quite a bit of power in their restricted domestic spheres, suggesting elements of the modern women as well. Anne is likewise a strong woman, able to take a life of disadvantage and turn it around. Anne’s life is largely influenced by women- it is Marilla who decides that she can stay and who takes responsibility for her upbringing, while Matthew watches silently from the sides, only stepping in when Marilla isn’t around. The knowledge, direction, advice and examples that Marilla and other women provide are the most prominent factors in Anne’s development into a socially accepted woman.Anne’s wild imagination is something that makes her special and unique as a child, but there is no place for it in society, so Marilla feels that it is her duty to repress it. If Anne had the same personality and imagination as an adult, she would have been considered a frivolous scatterbrain (Weiss-Town, 15). As a child, though, Anne can get away with saying and doing things that she would not otherwise because she has “never been taught what was right (Montgomery, 66).” The adult women in Anne of Green Gables do not have any imagination; when Anne asks Miss Barrie to try to imagine, she says, “I’m afraid my imagination is a little rusty- it’s so long since I used it (Montgomery, 158).” In order for Anne to grow up and have her place in society, she too must put her imagination away. Thus Marilla and the rest of the community are trying to fit her into the mold of a young lady by repressing her imagination. Anne’s imagination is a source of both good and evil in her life, but because of the negative elements, Anne learns that sometimes it is better not to imagine at all. As one chapter suggests, it is a “good imagination gone wrong” (Montgomery, 0). One night Marilla tells Anne to walk through the “Haunted Woods,” to get something from Mrs. Barrie. Anne is terrified on the walk, thinking of all of the ghosts that could be living there… Upon her return, she tells Marilla that she’ll be content with “common place names after this” (Berg, 126). “Bitterly did she repent the license she had given to her imagination (Montgomery, 165).” Anne has learned about the dangers of the imagination and the consequences it can have, frightening herself with her own made-up names and stories. Anne’s wish to have beautiful auburn hair is similarly squelched when she mistakenly dyes her hair green, teaching her a lesson about vanity. As her caregiver, Marilla makes sure to insert a moral or lesson anywhere she can, helping Anne to realize how she can learn from her mistakes. Anne does learn from her mistakes, and does not repeat them again. With time she makes fewer and fewer, until she has been completely socialized and conforms to society’s expectations without even having to think about behaving properly as she does as a child. This is when Anne is successfully integrated into the community. Miss Stacy is another very influential model in Anne’s life. As her teacher, she helps Anne to develop academically, yet as a woman, she helps her to develop socially as well. Anne proves how much she has learned when Miss Stacy asks her to stop reading a certain novel, and she obeys. The book “was one Ruby Gillis had lent me,” she explains to Marilla. “It was so fascinating and creepy; it just curdled the blood in my veins. But Miss Stacy said it was a very silly unwholesome book, and she asked me not to read any more of it or any like it” (Berg, 126). Anne does not question Miss Stacy’s judgment; she looks up to her, wanting to become like her someday. The Gothic novel was considered improper for girls to read, as it could seriously modify their comprehension of reality. It would be particularly hazardous for girls with brilliant imaginations, like Anne. It was chiefly girls who read Anne of Green Gables, so the novel functioned as a sort of instruction book for them, so they could learn from Anne’s slip-ups too (Carol, 10). Anne’s educational progress is quite astounding, going from an uneducated orphan girl to placing at the top of her class. As her teacher, Miss Stacy helps to prepare Anne for a career in teaching, providing a way for her to support herself and make her own way in the world if necessary. Miss Stacy, perhaps even more importantly, believes in Anne, accepting her and encouraging her to do her best, providing opportunities like the after school lessons to gain even more knowledge and increase her possibility of higher education (Montgomery 242). Women could either choose career or family, but not both; it was considered immoral for a family to have two incomes. When Anne is talking about her classmate’s ambitions, she says “Ruby says she will only teach two years after she gets though, and then she intends to be married. Jane says she will devote her whole life to teaching, and never, never marry because you are paid a salary for teaching; but a husband won’t pay you anything and growls if you ask for a share in the egg and butter money (Montgomery 244). Ruby, like Anne, is postponing marriage, but Jane is more the New Woman, opting not to marry at all and support herself. Although these girls are all aiming for careers, the teaching career was generally one that was acceptable for women at the time, so they are not making any progress in that sense; both Anne’s parents were teachers.Mrs. Allen likewise affirms Anne, encouraging her “to do some good in the world (Montgomery, 211).” When Anne is ‘in the depths of despair,’ humiliated in her room after the liniment incident, it is Mrs. Allen who comes up to comfort her, telling her that it wasn’t her fault. “I’m trying to be as much like Mrs. Allen as I possibly can, for I think she’s perfect (Montgomery, 207)” Anne tells her friends. At the Ladies Aid society meeting, when Mrs. Lynde says something negative about Anne, Mrs. Allen is quick to defend her, saying she is the “brightest and sweetest child she ever met (Montgomery, 214.)” Mrs. Allen is much better at expressing her love than Marilla is; she serves as a mother-figure, fulfilling Anne’s emotional needs. Because of Mrs. Allen’s acceptance, Anne has more self-confidence, and wishes to be good, partly to please her. “I hope I shall be a little like Mrs. Allen when I grow up (Montgomery, 211)” Anne says to Marilla. Mrs. Allen, as the minister’s wife, would also be a good example to Anne in matters of religion. She has been an enormous influence on Anne, just by her kind acceptance of her. By this, Anne learns to accept others as well.Rachel Lynde represents another powerful influence in Anne’s life. Because she prides herself so much on speaking her mind (Montgomery, 64), people are careful of what they say to her or around her. Through Mrs. Lynde, Anne learns the importance of “holding her tongue.” When Mrs. Lynde first meets Anne, she chides her about her looks and Anne flies at her in retaliation, criticizing her to her face. In order to regain acceptance from Marilla and the other women of the community, she must succumb to Marilla’s punishment and apologize to Rachel Lynde, humiliating and humbling herself (Montgomery 72-74). Once Anne gives in to the women of higher authority she begins to find her place in society. Before this incident with Rachel Lynde, Marilla tells Anne to hold her tongue and she goes right on talking (Montgomery, 57). In contrast, when Josie Pye later calls Anne a scarecrow, Anne does not react. Having a place in society means having rules and consequences for breaking them. After Anne has experienced the consequences of not holding her tongue, when Marilla tells her to do so on the way home from Rachel Lynde’s house, she complies (Montgomery, 76). This is a key point in Anne’s development. Rachel and Marilla are both very strong women- female heads of their homes. Rachel believes women should have the right to vote. A group of women all go out to meet the prime minister, and take Thomas along to take care of the horses. Although they do not have the opportunity to vote, they still care very much about politics and what is going on in Canada. In this sense, the women of Avonlea are very much models of the New Woman.‘Brains over beauty’ is a running theme throughout Anne of Green Gables. Marilla describes Diana as “good and smart, which is better than being pretty (Montgomery, 58).” Anne is very preoccupied with beauty and looks. She loathes her red hair and freckles, lashing out at anyone who points them out (i.e. Gilbert and Rachel Lynde). Marilla had had a similar experience as a child, overhearing her aunts saying “what a pity she is such a dark, homely little thing (Montgomery 68.)” It has taken Marilla 50 years to get over this. She is imparting her wisdom to Anne, so that she will learn there are more important things in life than beauty, and not spend 50 years wishing she was beautiful. “I’d rather be pretty than clever” Anne admits to Diana (Montgomery, 152). After Anne receives a compliment on her nose and taking it to heart, she asks Marilla what her thoughts are. Marilla thinks she has a pretty nose, but she does not want Anne to be a vain girl, so she does not tell her so; she does not want Anne to be so preoccupied with beauty (Montgomery, 151). The fact that intelligence is privileged over beauty shows how the culture of the New Woman is intermingled with the traditional one in Avonlea. In the past, beauty was important because it guaranteed a husband to care for and support women; now that they could support themselves, the relative importance of beauty was changing. Although Matthew and Marilla are so somber and were brought up in a strict, “joyless” home, they do not have a limited view of women and allow Anne more freedom to become the “New Woman.” Marilla places a high value on woman’s education; she felt it was important that “a girl be fitted to earn her own living whether she has to or not (Montgomery, 242).” It is her who first broaches the subject about being a teacher to Anne after Miss Stacy came to talk to her. She tells Anne that “we resolved to do the best we could for you and give you a good education (Montgomery, 242.)” This is a contrast to Diana’s mother, who believes that education is wasted on women. Mrs. Lynde likewise disapproves of education. The split amongst the community of women in terms of education shows the contrast between the old and new values- signifying this is a transitional stage. Because Marilla approves of her being educated, Anne happily goes along with it. She mentions dreaming about Queens for months, but does not mention anything about it until Marilla does. As the novel goes on, Anne’s imagination becomes more and more suppressed in order for her to have a place in society and be accepted by the women of the community. This is something Anne has to earn; it is not given to her. At the hotel concert, Anne is applauded for subscribing to society and reciting someone else’s words, instead of her own. It has been Marilla’s task to modify Anne’s voice, and an extremely difficult task it is. Before Anne goes off to Queens College, Marilla gives her a dress, not one of the plain ones she usually makes, but a beautiful green one. “Anne put it on one evening for Matthew and Marilla’s benefit, and recited “The Maiden’s Vow” for them in the kitchen” (Montgomery, 304). Anne here is fashionable, reciting someone else’s words for the benefit of Matthew and Marilla, consideration for others, and is doing so in the kitchen- a very domestic place. She has basically become “the angel in the household.” Marilla remembers what Anne used to be like and it brings tears to her eyes (Montgomery, 304). Anne assures her “I’m not changed- not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out… (Montgomery 304).” The words “pruned and branched out” have a very artificial sound. It is as if Anne is repressing her real self, no longer letting herself go wild; but restraining herself. Perhaps Marilla realizes this and is a little bit saddened by it. She wishes for the old, younger Anne who had not yet subscribed to society, although it was Marilla, Rachel Lynde and the other women of the community who pressured Anne to conform to their own ideals and view of womanhood in a predominantly female community (Weiss-Town, 13). In Avonlea, women’s values were cherished more than men’s values, making them the larger influences on Anne’s development (Berg, 127). Anne was been taught how to be a good wife and mother ever since she was little, working in homes, looking after children at the age of 11. This too influenced her development as a woman; Anne has no false fantasies about what raising a child would be like. She is able to save Minnie May’s life because of this knowledge from past experience. Anne does not make any ultimate choices about her life in this book, but in subsequent books Anne’s dreams eventually lead to marriage and motherhood, not literary fame. Anne postpones this “fate” for a while, experiencing what it is like to be a New Woman. Anne is a New Woman in many ways: getting a higher education, wearing divided skirts, biking around chaperoned, and so on, but she still retains the traditional values of family and home. She is not completely traditional, yet not quite a New Woman. Although Anne wins a prize, it is the English prize, a traditional feminine subject. Gilbert takes all the other prizes. The main influential women in Anne’s life have, with the exception of Miss Stacy and Marilla (although she still brings up Anne), are married and had children; Rachel Lynde, for example, “brought up ten children and buried two (Montgomery, 66).” It is no wonder that Anne follows suit. After Anne marries, her life is rather dull compared to the exciting surprises of her childhood. One interesting view of Anne that lines up very much with the thinking of Mary Wollstonecraft is that because Anne becomes an ideal woman at the end of the book: she never stops being a child (Weiss-Town, 12). She is no longer encouraged to think for herself and be imaginative; but is encouraged to memorize and recite other people’s prayers and poetry. Marilla begins to enforce this right from the beginning, making Anne learn the Lord’s Prayer instead of inventing her own (Montgomery, 55). The one contestation with this idea is that Anne actually did obtain a decent education, especially for a girl, and she did have the opportunity to a higher education. The presence of this choice is what is truly important.The lives of women in Anne of Green Gables revolve around the home and domestic ambitions. The chapter titles themselves illustrate the prominence of stereotypical female domestication and religion (Carol, 11). “Anne says her prayers”, “Anne’s bringing-up is begun”, “Anne’s impressions of Sunday school”, ”A Tempest in the school teapot”, “Diana is invited to tea with tragic results”, “Anne is invited out to tea”, etc. (Cecily, 15). Just by considering the chapter titles, we can see that tea parties and concerts seem to be an important part of Anne’s life. Tea parties and concerts are generally considered to be feminine, and the abundance of them in the novel outlines the importance of femininity. Marilla tells Anne she can have Diana over for tea while she is at the Aid society meeting, Anne is overjoyed. She exclaims; “It will seem so nice and grown-uppish” (Montgomery, 163). “Oh, Marilla, it’s a wonderful sensation just to think of it!” (Montgomery, 164). Anne’s enthusiasm over a tea party and being “grown-uppish” indicate she is gradually conforming to society’s standards; whether she inherently likes tea parties or likes them because that is what all the girls at her age like does not matter. Anne is encouraged to engage in activities that are feminine. When she goes to Rachel Lynde’s house to make her apology, Rachel tells her “you can pick a bouquet of them white June lilies over in the corner if you like (Montgomery, 74).” Rachel automatically assumes that Anne, as a girl, would wish to engage in ‘feminine’ activities. While Marilla is gone Anne’s main responsibility is to get supper for Matthew and Jerry, the role traditionally performed by a woman (Montgomery, 163). Anne is a woman-in-training, eager and proud to take on the responsibilities of the older women- people she respects. Anne, as a woman is very feminine, always up on the latest fashion and stylesOverall, although Anne does not make any ultimate decisions about her life in this novel, it still portrays the stereotypical feminine lifestyle that girls in the late 19th, early 20th century were expected to have. Anne starts out as a little, “ugly”, misbehaved, imaginative orphan girl; but is transformed by Marilla and the community of women in Avonlea into a model woman. Her imagination is restrained, she is “pruned and branched out,” and she is able to save Marilla from having to sell Green Gables, her childhood home. Anne of Green Gables is setting up separate worlds for men and women, portraying the woman’s world as much more interesting (Berg, 127). The world of women is not presented as completely confined as it had been in the past- women had more options by Anne’s time. The 1896 Halifax Herald said “only remarkable and highly motivated women such as [Montgomery] had any business venturing beyond motherhood” (Cecily, 32). This shows the dominant view of the time. Montgomery agreed, saying women should not have any career other than wife and mother, unless they could accomplish their work without interrupting these responsibilities (Cecily, 26). Although Anne avoided making any definite decisions by the end of this novel, her decisions eventually led to motherhood and the domestic life. The maternal women in Anne of Green Gables aided Anne in her development by being examples, correcting her and guiding her in the right direction. It could be argued though, that this ‘growth’ is actually decay in the sense that Anne lost her individuality by conforming to the standards set by society. Thus the conclusion we can draw is one of ambiguity: Anne was not a traditional woman, nor fully a “New Woman;” she is an ambiguous character whose transformation over the course of the novel parallels the gradual societal change in women’s expected role in society.Works Cited:Berg, Temma F. “Anne of Green Gables: A Girl’s Reading.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 13.3 (1988): 124-128. Project MUSE. 17 Aug. 2010
Gender Construction and Nature in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables
There is much debate amongst literary critics over L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The arguments stem from the whether or not it should be defined as a feminist novel and what the narrative really implies about women. L.M. Montgomery disassociated herself from the feminist movement, yet she believed that women should have the right to vote (Montgomery and Cecily, 27). Her seemingly contrasting views and opinions have led to a diverse cacophony of works from both ends of the spectrum. Although there may be subtle hints of pervasive femininity in Anne, older girls are generally the ones who recognize it. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables as a “girl’s novel,” depicting women as behaving in a prescribed way and embodying certain characteristics. By doing this, Montgomery affirms gender difference but not inequality (Montgomery and Cecily, 26). Anne of Green Gables reveals the early 20th Century assumptions about the role of females in society and, in doing so, presents the limited number of choices available to them. Anne’s imagination is what makes her special and unique, even though her romantic thoughts and pictures are distinctly feminine (Berg, 127). However, she must learn to repress her imagination as she gets older. If the character of Anne were an adult, readers would have considered her a frivolous scatterbrain (Weiss-Town, 15). By writing her as a child, Montgomery could get away with Anne saying and doing things that would not be appropriate for a proper woman. During Montgomery’s time, children were respected, sometimes even envied, because when they grew up they had to behave a certain way. Anne’s imagination is a source of both good and evil in her life. Montgomery describes it as a “good imagination gone wrong” (Berg, 126). For example, one night Marilla forces Anne to walk through the forest that Anne has named the “Haunted Woods” to get something from Mrs. Barrie. Anne is terrified on her short journey because of all the ghosts she believes live in the forest. When she returns home to Marilla, she tells her that she’ll be content with “common place names after this” (Berg, 126). In this episode, Anne learns about the dangers of her imagination and the consequences it can have, scaring herself half to death with her own made-up names and stories. Anne again proves that she has learned to suppress her imagination when her teacher asks her to stop reading a book and she obeys. The book “was one Ruby Gillis had leant me,” she explains to Marilla, “and Marilla, it was so fascinating and creepy, it just curdled the blood in my veins. But Miss Stacy said it was a very silly unwholesome book, and she asked me not to read any more of it or any like it” (Berg, 126). In the early 20th Century, Gothic novels was not considered appropriate for girls to read, because people believed that it could greatly alter their grasp of reality. These kinds of books would be considered especially dangerous for girls with vivid imaginations, like Anne. It was mainly girls who read (and still read) Anne of Green Gables, so the novel served as a sort of cautionary tale where they could learn from Anne’s mistakes alongside her (Carol, 10). Although Montgomery portrays Anne as a rambunctious child with a bad temper and a wild imagination, she also embodies many of the stereotypical feminine characteristics of a late 19th Century girl (Weiss-Town, 14). Anne’s sorrows are not caused by her chafing against womanhood, rather, they are the sorrows of womankind; the loss of a loved one, loneliness and not belonging, separation from loved-ones, etc. (Carol, 10). Although there have been critics who say that Anne belongs in a “boy book”, male protagonists of this time were usually seeking autonomy, separation and freedom from restraint. Anne, however, desperately wants to belong: “You see,” she tells Matthew on their ride to Green Gables from the train station, “I’ve never had a real home since I can remember.” When Anne sees Green Gables for the first time she finally feels a sense of belonging (Berg, 125). Anne is also desperate to find kindred spirits when she comes to Prince Edward Island, and says that she always wanted to have a bosom friend. One of Anne’s main concerns is beauty. She abhors her red hair and freckles, lashing out at anyone who points them out. “I’d rather be pretty than clever,” Anne admits to Diana (Montgomery and Cecily, 152). After Anne receives a compliment on her nose, she asks Marilla what she thinks of it. Marilla thinks she has quite a lovely nose, but she does not want Anne to be a vain girl, so she does not tell her so. Throughout the novel, Marilla makes it clear that she does not want Anne to be so preoccupied with beauty (Montgomery and Cecily, 151). Although Matthew and Marilla are somber and were brought up in a strict, “joyless” home, they eventually soften towards Anne, allowing her the freedom to become a “New Woman.” Marilla places a high value on woman’s education, saying that it is important that “a girl be fitted to earn her own living whether she has to or not” (Montgomery and Cecily, 31). This presents a contrast to Diana’s mother, who believes that education is wasted on women. While Marilla pushes Anne to succeed academically, Matthew is much better than his sister at expressing his love. He dotes on Anne, buying her fashionable clothes, specifically, a dress with “puffed sleeves.” Montgomery switches the stereotypical gender roles here, with Marilla as the more masculine head of the household, having the final say on matters and not being as good at expressing her feelings, while Matthew is quiet, submissive, and emotional. Anne brings both Marilla and Matthew out of their comfort zones, though. Later in the novel, Matthew stands up to Marilla more often, mostly for Anne’s sake, and Marilla becomes more lenient as well. Anne’s imagination and outspoken personality serves to amuse others, even when she is tormenting herself. When Anne becomes upset about the prospect of Dianna Barrie getting married one day, Marilla tries to hold her laughter in, but can’t,and she collapses in a chair, laughing at Anne’s childlike anxiety. Matthew cannot recall when he has ever heard Marilla laughing like that before (Montgomery and Cecily, 162). In another instance, Anne takes Marilla’s hand and “something warm and pleasant well[s] up in Marilla’s heart at the touch of that thin little hand in her own- a throb of the maternity she [has] missed, perhaps. Its’ very unaccustomed tenderness and sweetness [scares] her” (Montgomery and Cecily, 126). In this way, Anne is almost setting the people in her life back into their stereotypical gender roles. Similarly, the adults around her are trying to squeeze Anne into the mold of a young lady by repressing her imagination. When she first comes to Green Gables and is desperate to stay, Anne says “I’ll try and be anything you want if only you’ll keep me” (Montgomery and Cecily, 97). As the novel goes on, Anne suppresses her imagination more and more in order for her to have a place in society. This social standing is something Anne has to earn, rather than inherit. At the hotel concert, the community applauds Anne for subscribing to society and reciting someone else’s poem, instead of her own. It has been Marilla’s task to modify Anne’s speaking tone, which she does successfully. Before Anne goes off to Queen’s College, Marilla gives her a dress, not one of the plain ones she usually makes, but a beautiful green one. “Anne put it on one evening for Matthew and Marilla’s benefit, and recited “The Maiden’s Vow” for them in the kitchen” (Montgomery and Cecily, 304). Anne becomes fashionable, reciting someone else’s words for the benefit of Matthew and Marilla, and is doing so in the kitchen, which is a very domestic place. She has basically become “the angel in the household.” Marilla remembers what Anne used to be like and it brings tears to her eyes. Marilla says “I just couldn’t help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You’re grown up now and you’re going away; and you look so tall and stylish and so-so-different altogether in that dress- as if you didn’t belong in Avonlea at all- and I just get lonesome thinking it all over” (Montgomery and Cecily, 304). Anne replies “I’m not changed- not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out…” (Montgomery and Cecily, 304). The words “pruned and branched out” sound very artificial. They imply that Anne has learned to repress her real self and stop going wild. Perhaps Marilla realizes this and is a little bit saddened by it. She wishes for the old, younger Anne who had not yet learned how to bow down to the rules of society, although it is Marilla, Rachel Lynde and the other women of the community who put immensely strong pressure on Anne to conform to their own ideals and view of womanhood in a dominantly female community (Weiss-Town, 13). In Avonlea, women’s values are cherished more than men’s values (Berg, 127.) Anne has been taught how to be a good wife and mother ever since she was little, working in homes, looking after children at the age of 11. In fact, she is able to save Minnie May’s life because of this knowledge. Anne does not make any ultimate choices about her life in this book, but in subsequent books Anne’s journey eventually takes her to marriage and motherhood, but not literary fame as she had once hoped. Anne postpones her domestic “fate” for a while, experiencing life as a “New Woman.” Anne is a New Woman in many ways; getting a higher education, wearing divided skirts, biking around unchaperoned, etc, but she is still mired in tradition. Although Anne wins a prize for her schoolwork, it is the English prize, a subject traditionally associated with women. Gilbert takes all the other prizes, like those in math and science. After Anne marries, her life becomes rather dull in comparison to the exciting surprises of her childhood. Although Anne actually does receive a good education, especially for a girl, Mary Wollstonecraft believes that because Anne becomes an “ideal” woman at the end of the book, it means that she actually never stops being a child (Weiss-Town, 12). The lives of women in Anne of Green Gables revolve around breakfast, lunch and dinner, intricate relations between neighbours, mother and sons, mothers and daughters, growing up, raising children, etc. (Carol, 11). All of these elements are very domestic. The chapter titles themselves show the prominence of stereotypical female domestication and religion (Carol, 11). “Anne Says her Prayers”, “Anne’s Bringing-up is Begun”, “Anne’s Impressions of Sunday School”, ”A Tempest in the School Teapot”, “Diana is invited to tea with tragic results”, “Anne is Invited out to Tea”, “Miss. Stacy and her Pupils set up a Concert”, “Matthew Insists on Puffed-sleeves”, “The Hotel Concert”, etc. (Montgomery and Cecily, 15). Just by looking at the chapter titles, it becomes clear that tea parties and concerts, traditionally feminine pastimes, are a big part of Anne’s life. Marilla tells Anne she can have Diana over for tea while she is at the Aid Society meeting, Anne is overjoyed. She exclaims; “It will seem so nice and grown-uppish” (Montgomery and Cecily, 163). “Oh, Marilla, it’s a wonderful sensation just to think of it!” (Montgomery and Cecily, 164). She asks to use toe rosebud spray tea set, but Marilla refuses. Anne’s excitement over a tea party and being “grown-uppish” show that she is slowly conforming to society; it does not matter whether she inherently likes tea parties or likes them because all other girls her age do. While Marilla at the meeting, Anne’s main responsibility is to get supper for Matthew and Jerry (Montgomery and Cecily, 163). Overall, although Anne does not make any ultimate decisions about her life in this novel, Montgomery still portrays the stereotypical feminine lifestyle that girls in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were expected to have. Anne starts out as a little, “ugly”, misbehaved, imaginative orphan girl; but Marilla, Matthew, and the other women of Avonlea transform her into a traditional, model woman. She learns to restrain her imagination, she is “pruned and branched out,” and is able to save Marilla from having to sell Green Gables, her childhood home. Anne of Green Gables sets up separate worlds for men and women, portraying the woman’s world as much more interesting (Berg, 127). The 1896 Halifax Herald said “only remarkable and highly motivated women such as [Montgomery] had any business venturing beyond motherhood” (Montgomery and Cecily, 32). This shows the dominant view of the time. Montgomery agreed with the paper, saying women should not have any career other than wife and mother, unless they could accomplish their work without interrupting these responsibilities (Montgomery and Cecily, 26). Although Anne is too young to make any definite decisions by the end of this novel, she lays the foundation for her eventual domestic life. Works Cited:Berg, Temma F. “Anne of Green Gables: A Girl’s Reading.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 13.3 (1988): 124-128. Project MUSE. 17 Aug. 2010