Anne is a unique character as she has had nothing but condemnation and dislike thrown at her by all those she meets, except for the new teacher at her Montessori school in Nova Scotia. Being bigger and more outspoken than girls her age, Anne is a bit of a tomboy, preferring to dress in boy’s clothing. The main idea of this story is the transformation of Anne, who is at first a very rude and sometimes mean-spirited girl and grows into a loving and compassionate young woman. The novel introduces Anne’s life in her family home, Green Gables. Language and literary devices used in this story help to create an atmosphere, like the description of “Anne’s fire” and “her thoughts .”Other structural and thematic elements used in this novel are foreshadowing, how Anne’s mother dies of consumption, and how it is hinted at right from the start, making the reader understand that her character is not fully good. The essay focuses on how the landscape from the rural to the city street defines and shapes different characters and reflects on larger themes, character conflicts, or ideas within the text.
The landscape from the rural to the city street defines and shapes different characters and reflects on larger themes, character conflicts, or ideas within the text. The setting of this story is mainly Prince Edward Island. Anne’s home is an isolated house on a hill with no neighbors. This setting would be very similar to the House of Dreams mentioned in Chapter 2, where Anne is a little girl raised by her dead mother’s friend Mr. Allan. The story is set in the city of Toronto. The landscape of Toronto represents a major difference between the rural life Anne has been accustomed to and the urban world she is now entering. The great forest upon which she gazed was familiar and friendly, but there was no other house near it or dwelling in sight. It stood alone, a monarch among its fellows (Montgomery,105). They were scattered at distances, each standing in its own cleared space. Anne sighed as she realized this view was typical of what she might expect for the rest of her life. There would be no happier homes like those of Avonlea, separated by a grove of maples, or the cozy little farmhouse embowered in flowering vines.
The landscape of Toronto is remarked upon by Anne in the very first chapter to set up her position as an observer and a person with a strong imagination. Anne is constantly misjudged by people who do not know her, but she wins people over by always giving her best and is quick to forgive and forget. Only when Anne meets children her age does she start to feel like an outsider, as they all know each other, and she has not. By befriending the new teacher and her ‘bosom friend’ (new friend), Diana Barry, Anne can get on with others in a way she has never been able to. She describes the landscape around her as a city street thronged with house fronts and people as her new home. Even the landscape of a city street is not enough to hold Anne, who misses the peace of her country home and often feels insecure in this huge city. She longs for the countryside, surrounded by trees and fresh air. She says as she walks through Toronto streets: “greatest city on earth! Much good may it do you! I wouldn’t live here for anything” (Montgomery,219). If she had been conscious of any feeling, it would have been relief at finding herself among human beings once more; but she was not aware of any sense—only of wonder at seeing two upright rows of houses where she had expected one.
Another theme within this text is the idea of what constitutes a family. Anne sees her Aunt Josephine as a second mother even though they never spent time together when she was alive. Anne finds comfort in knowing that at least one person knows everything about her, and she wonders if this is how her Aunt Josephine feels towards her. Anne is constantly being given the message that she is an outsider and not wanted by others, but by reading between these texts, we can see that Anne feels as if she has been repressed (Montgomery,17). Anne’s last relationship with her Aunt Josephine was one where her aunt protected her from the harshness of life for a long time, but at least Anne was protected. When people close to Anne do not understand what she is going through, it hurts even more and leaves her feeling vulnerable. She looks at her aunt’s tombstone: “How is it possible to hide a face from such a view as this? How can any mind be closed to the sorrowful tenderness in the relief of every line and curve and hollow that could be so accurately noted in a stone? And yet—they are doing their best.”( Montgomery,15)
The telegraph boy delivers a telegram: “At last! She flew to the door, caught the wire, and drew it through the window. Anne held her breath and listened. A long minute of dead stillness. The wire was still.” (Montgomery, 47-48)” This shows how Anne’s rural upbringing has impaired her life and how the city is more dynamic. She is not able to sit back and absorb things. In Anne of Green Gables, when she and Diana are walking home from school, she tells her new friend about the boy she has fallen for: “She was growing so bold that he didn’t mind being kissed now,” which shows her growing up, in more ways than one.
Unlike Anne, TJ had never lived in the city, and she does not know many new ways people have. She prefers to stay in her apartment with her books, and it is only when she meets a friend for the first time that she feels connected to a world outside herself. This is why TJ stays in her apartment, which causes her to leave when she says to Charles Cuthbert: “It’s very nice in your apartment. I wouldn’t mind living like that, but it seems so much less than I expected”( Montgomery,44) the differences between the two texts are evident, as the energy of Anne is lower-keyed than that of TJ. Anne is a girl who still lives by her early experiences and cannot see beyond them to the possibility of something more. The themes within the two texts are very similar in so many ways. Both characters are outsiders, and both hate being excluded from anything. They are determined to prove their worth and do this with flying colors when they know they do not belong. Both characters are attracted to the other and cannot do anything about it. In Anne’s case, it is the man of her dreams, Richard; in TJ’s, it is a new friend, Charles Cuthbert.
Anne describes Avonlea, representing how she has felt throughout her life: “Looking down the road, I saw Avonlea village far away like a blue dream” (Montgomery,16). This is exactly how she feels when she goes to the city, and her perception is changed. She is surprised that there are houses in the town but nothing to look at. The landscape could be more beautiful, as it has been in rural areas. The places are very close to each other and differ from Avonlea. The only thing Anne can get comfort in when she feels this way is her imagination. She soon starts to feel more comfortable, and her surroundings do not seem so frightening, but she still doesn’t fit in with the others around her. Anne does not know what is expected of her, so she feels as if she is in a dream and trapped in the city and will never return to what she once knew as home. It sets the largest theme evident in the following quote when Anne describes her place in society: “I am forever in the middle. Anne laughed at herself. I am not a queenly personage, and I never shall be. But thank goodness!—It’s a little better to feel that way than to feel nothing but grandeur and magnificence, and all personal sensation far away and nobody to notice you. There’s a great deal more to me than that”( Montgomery,15)
Anne describes how she is held back in the city because her family is not wealthy, which is ironic. After all, Anne introduced her aunt’s money to the family when she was just a little girl. She looks down on those who have money and places them on a higher pedestal. Charles Cuthbert and Mrs. Lynde are examples of this, as they are from different social classes (Montgomery, 16). Anne is holding herself back from the wealthy people because they are not like her, and she will never fit in. However, when it comes to the rich people in Avonlea, they value Anne and see her as a friend, but she does think that she is not good enough for them. “I’m not exactly common; no, I’m uncommonly common. I’m the person people feel comfortable with because I take them as they are and am interested in their opinion. But I’m never going to be popular—that is just it. I wouldn’t care if I were out of date and not in my first youth. I would even like it. But what hurts is not to be important to anyone—not to anybody in the world.”( Montgomery,15)
A great example of geographical surroundings that reflect the characters’ experiences is when Anne first lives with Miss Stacy. The whole house is just like a locker room, it is so small, and every stature you enter has a different smell. She also finds out that Miss Stacy kept all her things in one room, and there are no other rooms to park her stuff in. This reflects how Anne was never allowed to decorate her room by Mrs. Lynda. She always held back and felt like she could not make decisions about her house because Mrs. Lynda had taken them away.
In conclusion, both Anne and TJ reflect the author’s real-life experiences. They face class and social standing issues and use their imagination to overcome their situation. Anne and TJ are both quite shy and do not believe they have worth; they wish to be helpful to others. But the major difference between Anne and TJ is that Anne can make friends with her imagination. This is the case, as she knows her limitations and understands that she will never fit in. It is also interesting to note that while Anne feels trapped by the city, she is drawn back because it is where she can belong.
Montgomery, Lucy Maud. The Annotated Anne of Green Gables. Oxford University Press, 1997. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/45/45-h/45-h.htm#link2HCH0001