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Orphans’ stories are sometimes very pathetic. However, L. M. Montgomery in her 1908 Anne of Green Gables instead succeeds in capturing the admiration of the reader towards her main character, who is an orphan. The book tells the story of Anne’s trials and struggles growing up. Anne is raised by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who unfortunately appreciate her differently. Matthew has a soft spot for her and understands Anne’s cautiousness about appearances. Whereas Marilla isn’t that understanding and even suggests taking back Anne to the orphanage. But her brother manages to convince her to let the girl stay.
This classic 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery remains one of the most memorable novels of her time. Anne of Green Gables revolves around red-headed orphan Anne Shirley, from Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. The author builds this fictional community inspired by the real-world community of Prince Edward Island.
The young girl is sent to reside with middle-aged Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, after having spent a better part of her childhood in orphanages and stranger’s homes. The initial plan by Marilla and Matthew was to adopt a boy who could help them with their farm at Green Gables. However, the orphanage misunderstood their intentions and sent Anne to the family.
Anne finds joy in her fantasies as well as in the world around her. From being imaginative, fanciful, and dramatic, there is just no way one would not like her. Her eagerness to please is the icing on the cake. She seems to pay too much attention to her appearance, is very pleased with her nose and visibly not comfortable with her red hair and thin frame. Such details are a distraction to Marilla, and this irritates her.
Anne is also quite talkative, especially when it comes to describing her dreams and fantasies. This kind of daughter requires someone special to understand her. Even stern Marilla initially has a problem with her and insists on taking Anne back to the orphanage. Fortunately, Matthew depicted as being kind and understanding, speaks to her, and Marilla decides to let Anne stay.
The rivalry of earlier days at Green Gables
Anne’s approach to life is fascinating. She indeed has her inner struggles. Not having met her parents is a challenge that would break most children, but Anne seems stable. She adapts quite fast in the new village. Her imagination and dreams soon become a source of joy for the whole of Green Gables. The new home is the first real home she has ever known. She loves the area which reflects in her excellent school performance. Anne, being the easy-going kind of person, strives not to live in isolation. She is quick to strike a friendship with a next-door girl, whom she describes as her bosom friend and a kindred spirit.
Such a show of courage by Anne may mislead the reader to think that all was honey for her from the start. Constant rivalry with Gilbert Blythe characterizes her earlier days at Green Gables. Gilbert developed the tendency to tease Anne regarding her physical look, red hair and thin skin.
But as flexible and charming she is, Anne realizes she does not feel hatred for Gilbert. However, her regrettable stubborn attitude and pride, prevent her from speaking to him.
Humans and the natural world
Most children’s books include nature as an essential theme. Authors intend to attract young children who tend to connect easily with the natural world. It is therefore not surprising to have found, L. M Montgomery providing abundant discussions around the environment. You can barely flip through two or three pages in Anne of Green Gables without encountering some description about flowers, a garden, the sun rising, or trees that Anne admires in school. Since she loves beauty, she is overly joyed by such beauty of nature.
Lucy Maud Montgomery published her book at a time when global warming and climatic changes weren’t much of a concern to humanity. The book has rampant reflections about the natural world, and the author makes the characters in her book interact with nature. The town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island is the exact depiction of the childhood fables grandparents often tell.
As human beings began concentrating more on industries to the detriment of nurturing the environment, things got out of hand. Temperatures rose beyond manageable levels, and the weather patterns took a drastic turn. Current projections are that such unfavorable climatic changes are bound to continue happening as long as we do not take care of our environment. Therefore, it is crucial to train kids on the need to have a positive relationship with their surroundings.
Nature has a way of increasing one’s creativity and reducing stress. It also plays the role of helping children recover from attention-deficit disorder. Could this be the main reason why we see Anne quite obsessed by nature? Having grown for a better part of her childhood without some form of parental touch, she probably turned to nature to seek solace. She gets the joy she may have been looking for. Would she get the same pleasure in the modern world? Probably not. After all, we seem to have dedicated ourselves to destroy as many trees and vegetation as we can.
Keeping up with appearances
Most adults are always concerned about their appearance. It appears children do too. The author demonstrates this through Anne. Marilla complains that Anne spends most of her time thinking about her looks. She often asks people about her hair’s appearance with the hope that it is darker. Sometimes she spent a good part of her day in front of a mirror. The young girl gets furious when others make fun of it.
Anne is not in good terms with Gilbert Blythe, who often teases her about her hair. She gets so angry that she begins to hate him. Even though she later retracts her opinion, the reaction itself is enough evidence of how much looks matter to her. Her pride and refusal to acknowledge the many apologies rendered by Gilbert also speak volumes.
Whenever a child is born, the very first thing that people comment on is their appearance. If babies were to understand the compliments they are showered with at birth, their already big heads would be even bigger. Maybe it is a good thing that they remain ignorant until they are a couple of years older. The girls take not more than two years before developing an intense sense of appearance. Most of them begin preferring specific colors and would be glad if left to reign over their wardrobes. The result is a more confident child who takes pride in their choices.
Parents should teach their children to be unapologetic about their appearances. At the same time, they get to learn about society’s judgmental tendencies. Everyone expected Anne’s hair to be black, so they tease her and make her feel ashamed of who she is. The author’s handling of this issue is even more pertinent to modern readers who are more or less influenced by the Internet and social media. People are increasingly pushing for them to be seen in a particular manner whereas they need to stay themselves.