‘Anne With An E’ Thoughts, And Other Anne Reading

Where my kindred spirits at?

We are mere days from the Netflix premiere of ‘Anne With An E,’ but I had the pleasure of viewing the first two episodes earlier this spring when my Canadian TV signal was coming in. There’s a lot to be excited about,  so I’ll just mention a few things now:

  • In an epic Meeting Of The Canadian Cultural Icons, the opening titles of ‘Anne With An E’ are set to The Tragically Hip’s Ahead By A Century, giving the song a new meaning and perfectly encapsulating Anne.
  • The aesthetics are phenomenal. The ‘Anne With An E’ production strove for authenticity in its sets and costumes, but certainly also to meet a modern appeal. To wit: the puffed sleeve dress won’t look as ’80s as the one in the (dearly, deservedly beloved) Megan Follows version. Yes, that ’80s dress was historically accurate, but the choice was one that complimented a 1980s aesthetic; the choices in this production, similarly, are historically accurate but complement a 2017 aesthetic. That is to say that many of the rooms in Green Gables are beautifully bare and folksy, like a Kinfolk spread. Both the CBC and Netflix premieres included flower crowns and a flower wall. The town shots of Avonlea are a little more ‘gritty’ and a little less Little House on the Prairie. The colors are at once washed out and sepia-tinged. It’s just PRETTY, in a way any production set in Prince Edward Island should be. You can see what Anne’s swooning over.
  • ‘Anne With An E’ does depart from the books, for better or worse. I hate to bemoan too much imagination in a discussion of Anne of Green Gables, of all things… plus the (dearly, deservedly beloved) Megan Follows version strayed from the books in its own ways. With this adaptation helmed by Breaking Bad writer Moira Walley-Beckett, safe to say things are considerably darker. There are two arguments to be made here. The first is that Lucy Maud Montgomery knew darkness as a child, as her mother died when she was very young and her father effectively abandoned her, but chose a light and optimistic outlook in the Anne novels. The second is that the darkness is implicit in the Anne series anyway. We know Anne was overworked and abused in her earlier placements, and we knew of her loneliness in the orphanage. Her use of imagination as an escape permeates Anne of Green Gables, especially. She does face rejection and fear abandonment; she cannot remember being loved.
  • However, some plot devices that were used to increase the dramatic tension in ‘Anne With An E’ felt unnecessary. The classic Anne debacles – the hair dye, the ridgepole, the Lady of Shalott business, good Lord, the cordial – are enough.
  • I think Anne Shirley was always a feminist, but ‘Anne With An E’ couches that in more modern terminology. For instance, Anne tells Marilla that girls can do anything boys can. It struck me as anachronistic, but then I remembered my niece who I’ll be watching this with and realized that it’s not for me. I’ll take some improbable dialogue if it’s to a good end, especially in a children’s series. I’d compare it to the 1994 adaptation of Little Women that way.

  • Finally, if there’s one reason to give this adaptation of Anne a chance, it’s Anne herself. Amybeth McNulty is the closest to the Anne of my imagination of any actress so far. Anne is aged up to 13 in this series, and Amybeth really does look like a 13-year-old who sees herself as scrawny; it was hard to suspend disbelief when the wonderful Megan Follows looked 17 in the first movie. Amybeth has just the right intelligence and spirit behind her eyes to make a convincing Anne, effectively conveying Anne’s disappointment, trauma and high-flying spirit. If I was 15 I’d totally want to be bosom friends with her.

The take-away: ‘Anne With An E’ – or any Anne adaptation – won’t meet muster for some fans of the 1985 CBC series Anne of Green Gables, but there’s a lot to love if you judge it on its own merits. I’ve loved Anne since I first read Anne of Green Gables in second grade, and I enjoyed the episodes I saw of ‘Anne With An E’ enough that I’m anxious to see the rest of the series. You could say that some liberties were taken with the stories, but you could also say that there was plenty of scope for the imagination in the original texts.

Other Anne Reading
Marilla Cuthbert Was a Creepy Church Hag

My analysis of Marilla Cuthbert – whom I love, of course – as a creepo who kind of did try to buy a child to do chores. And if you have enough cash-money to buy a human child, you can buy her the ugly sleeves she wants, right?

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man or D-Bag

Is Gilbert Blythe a swoon-worthy match for Anne or a total jerk who should leave her alone? Both? Neither? Or is the problem with Anne herself? Join me on the journey to unravel basically every weird romantic situation I’ve ever been in.

Anne of Green Gables 2013

Several years ago there were rumors of a modern-day Anne of Green Gables adaptation. I tried to parse out what, exactly, that would look like. Mr. Phillips and Prissy Andrews? Yeah, that’s a Dateline special waiting to happen.

Questions, Comments, Concerns: Anne Of Green Gables

Because I’ve never skipped an Anne of Green Gables adaptation, I wrote about the PBS version that aired in November of 2016. Takeaway: it was fine, I guess.

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Questions, Comments, Concerns: Anne of Green Gables

In all my Gilmore Girls hysteria I missed the television event I never knew I didn’t need: the 2016, YTV, Martin Sheen-ified remake of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which aired on PBS Thanksgiving night. Ahem, American Thanksgiving night. While I first fell in love with the world of Avonlea through Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books, I also have a real fondness for the One True Film Adaptation: the 1985 CBC Miniseries directed by Kevin Sullivan and starring Megan Follows, Richard Farnsworth and Colleen Dewhurst. We’ve written about Anne in our takedown of Marilla Cuthbert as a creepy church hag  and in our mixed-feelings analysis of dream man Gilbert Blythe. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the newest adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, which I didn’t really need but which was perfectly fine, I suppose.

Concern: Megan Follows

Personally, I’d argue that any time Anne of Green Gables is made it should star Megan Follows. I understand that she is like 40 years old (EDIT: Forty-EIGHT years old?!?! Which isn’t old, except I see her as a perpetual teen). However, in the 1985 Anne of Green Gables she wasn’t exactly 11 anyway, so may as well keep going with it.

Question: Why is Matthew so bumbling?

Matthew was always quiet and a bit awkward, but I thought it was more in the painfully shy way instead of in a clumsy-lady-in-a-romcom way.

Comment: The casting of Matthew is almost aggressively American.

This time it’s Martin Sheen. Last time it was Richard Farnsworth. Both played the role with an aged cowboy vibe. Hmm. I mean there’s AMERICAN, and then there’s Martin Sheen/ Richard Farnsworth-level American.

Concern: That is the worst red hair I’ve ever seen.

Anne. “Nobody with hair that awful could ever be perfectly happy” because it is a horrendous dye job. I’ll pull out my redhead card (it’s actually an appointment reminder from my dermatologist because red hair is a curse indeed) and say that in the first place, only certain skin and eye tones work with red hair. This adorable actress (surely cast because she was the best for the role; she does a great job) just doesn’t have redhead-compatible undertones. Add to that a weird, improbable shade of red dye and the worst Halloween costume-level painted freckles I have seen in my life, and it just does not work at all.

Comment: All of the kids are the right age.

As an adult I can watch the One True Anne of Green Gables and pretend all those kids look 12-13 years old. But as a kid who was the same age as Anne I remember being so confused as to why they all looked 18. Note: it’s because they were all 18. It was especially jarring in the scenes where they’d mention Anne being scrawny and 11-year-old me was like “for real, she looks post-pubescent.” The casting made sense because the 1985 Anne of Green Gables combined Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, and this one is Anne of Green Gables only. It’s very different seeing Anne look like an actual little girl. She comes across as more precocious for her age and less like a weirdo quirky teenager. All in all, not a bad move.

Question: Why is the new White Way of Delight so bad?
THIS is how it should be.

THIS is how it should be.

Comment: Puffed sleeves are proof that trends may change, but terrible tween fads are a constant.

Does anyone remember reading about Anne’s puffed sleeves and imagining something positively dreamy, only to see those big ugly ’80s-looking things? Proof that fads come and go, but they’re almost always stupid.

Comment: “Would you please STOP TALKING?”

Marilla speaking truth to how I’d feel about Anne as an adult who had to deal with her – even though I wouldn’t say it.

Comment: New Anne is different, but good.
I mean, the kid is adorable.

I mean, the kid is adorable.

New Anne (Ella Ballentine) is a little less dreamy and out of it, a little more introspective and quick-witted, but in a way that is supported by the way Anne is written in the books. I’m so relieved they don’t have her trying to do a Megan Follows impression. Between the different take on Anne and the different ages of the actors, this is at least enough different from the old version to make it worth a watch.

Question: Why is Rachel Lynde so awful?

I’d think that Rachel was improbably bad, but then I remember that adults DID make comments about my red hair and freckles when I was a kid. However, I am still baffled as to why Rachel’s so terrible. Sure, she doesn’t have kids, but neither do I and I know enough not to call them ugly.

Comment: A+ Canadian pronunciation of “sorry” and “out.”
Comment: A++ Rachel Lynde apology scene

We see it from afar, with Anne gesticulating dramatically and Rachel looking bemused. Ha.

Comment: Marilla chuckling to herself over Anne closing her prayer with “et cetera, et cetera.”

I liked this moment showing why Marilla’s keeping this kid around – Anne drives her crazy, but Marilla gets a kick out of her. Who wouldn’t?

Comment: The hair is better out of natural light.

Same with the freckles.

Question: Did this film even HAVE a colorist, or…?
If you can give Anne bad red hair, surely you can give Diana bad black hair.

If you can give Anne bad red hair, surely you can give Diana bad black hair.

Diana has light brown hair with a slight tint of ginger, even though everyone knows Diana has black hair. In some cases a character’s description in a book isn’t important, but in Anne of Green Gables it mattered because (1) Anne’s hair was a major plot device and (2) Diana’s hair marked her as everything Anne wasn’t.

Comment: Diana is good and different, too.

I always imagined Diana being much more calm, cool and together than Anne, but this actress (Julia Lalonde) plays Diana as a slightly awkward tween. I can totally see her getting drunk on raspberry cordial by accident. This less-smooth take on Diana works since she and Anne are both so imaginative – kindred spirits! – and because Diana’s so sheltered by her mother. Not to mention, the “Diana’s so cool and pretty” stuff was mostly coming from how Anne saw her because she absolutely had one of those tween friend-crushes where you just want someone to be BFFs with you.

To make up for the lack of black hair dye, this Diana has expressive dark brown eyes, which feels very Diana.

Concern: I never realized how much my concept of Gilbert was tied up in having a crush on Gilbert.

Gilbert was played by college-age dreamboat Jonathan Crombie (RIP) in the 1985 version. which means both that he was one of the first leading men I remember having a crush on, and also that it didn’t feel weird to find him cute when I rewatched as an adult. New Gilbert is a baby. I mean, a small child. It drives home how jerk-era Gilbert from the books was a little kid, which is nice, but it still makes me feel like a filthy old lady to see Gilbert as a child.

Comment: Diana getting lit on raspberry cordial.

It’s still one of the best scenes in this or any version of Anne of Green Gables.

Props to Ella(/Anne) for her delivery of “what’s that?” when Diana says her mother has hives – both girls are talking in fake fancy accents and she totally drops it. Cute.

Woozy Diana and confused Anne – both so good!

Comment: We all get creep vibes from Mr. Phillips, right?

In the books, Mr. Phillips courts teen student Prissy Andrews, but even if he hadn’t he’s just creep vibes all around. I’m happy they had this actor portray Mr. Phillips as a sketchy mean teacher, too.

Comment: The scene where Anne saves Diana’s sister is so much more touching as an adult.

It was always clear Anne had a lot of child know-how because she was basically an indentured servant for giant families, but now it’s even more touching because you see how everyone thinks Anne’s silly because she’s so imaginative, but really that’s an escape – she’s an incredibly intelligent and competent girl who never got to be a kid before.

Also, Mrs. Barry is kind of a B for only forgiving Anne after she saves her kid.

Comment:
Anne: Why are you standing there?
Gilbert: For your safety.
Me:

 

Concern: Marilla would never try to return a kid she bought THAT LATE

 

Marilla did buy a kid for chores and then try to return her. We don’t let her off the hook for it. However, this adaptation sneaks in a moment of dramatic tension by having Marilla almost return Anne at the close of the film after she’s been established in Avonlea for, like, a year or something. Then Marilla decides to keep Anne thanks to VOICE OF REASON RACHEL LYNDE. Lots to unpack here. I understand why someone adapting Anne of Green Gables would feel that there needs to be a point of conflict at the conclusion. However, Anne of Green Gables, like many children’s classics – Little Women comes to mind – is a series of episodes rather than one large problem to be solved. The story develops over the course of several novels, and there is real conflict in whether Anne will get to stay, if she will remain friends with Diana, make peace with Gilbert, and later on in whether she will earn top marks, go away to school, fulfill her career goals and finally make up her mind about Gilbert. The Anne books, like childhood itself, aren’t a buildup to one stunning turning point. They are a series of events that inch a person closer and closer to the adult they will become.

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ICYMI: Dream Man and Church Hag, A Children’s Story for the Ages

You know what’s great? Revisiting your favorite shows from when you were a kid and realizing just how ridiculous and horrible the characters were. Yes, I used the word ‘great’.

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man Or D-Bag: C+S Book Club

Gilbert Blythe just died again. I say again because, had the fictional Gilbert been a real person, he’d be about 120 years old, and sorry friends – or sore-y, Canadian friends – there’s just no way. But for a lot of us, Gilbert lived and breathed through the 1980s CBC Anne Of Green Gables movies. Jonathan Crombie was a Toronto youth acting in school plays when he was cast as Gilbert, and he made the character more lovable than I think he even was on the page.

When Crombie died earlier this month, we lost a little bit of Gilbert Blythe. Ah, but which Gilbert Blythe? Things aren’t always black and white in Avonlea (don’t get me wrong, Avonlea is  very, very white, insomuch that Anne’s red hair is a real exotic shot of diversity). In a previous C+S Book Club installment, we dispelled the idea of Marilla Cuthbert as a kindly yet stern benefactress: in my heart, she is first and foremost a creepy church hag. Likewise, one could argue that Gilbert Blythe is an early 1900s dream man – but just as easily, he could be an old-timey sarsaparilla-scented burlap douchebag. Let’s discuss.

Gilbert Blythe, D-Bag

I’ll defer to our Anne of Green Gables synopsis from our last post about the book: “Published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story is a timeless tale of orphans and family and imagination and screwing up your hair and dreams and getting your friend drunk by accident and Canada and Canadians and will they/won’t they romance and child-buying. Especially child-buying. When Anne, a plucky carrot-topped orphan with a heart of gold, ends up in Green Gables, she brings love, light, and happiness to Matthew and Marilla, a brother and sister who are married or whatever. ” Today, we look into the romance in question, between Anne – a child nobody has ever loved, who longs to achieve despite an early childhood deprived of education – and Gilbert, a boy who has parents and stuff but is still really mean to the orphan who wasn’t allowed to go to school.

I mean, Gilbert. First of all. Your top academic rival is a little girl who had to raise a litter of Garbage Pail twins and talk to herself in the woods instead of going to school. You think she’s weird? I don’t know, maybe it’s because her only childhood friend was herself, in a mirror. Then she finally gets to interact with humans and basically manages not to seem like a feral child – success! And you mock her, day 1. Kind of a dick move, Blythe.


RIP Jonathan Crombie. You were kind of a dick on TV. But you know who else was a dick? another Anne of Green Gables regular – Marilla Cuthbert.

Marilla Cuthbert Was A Creepy Church Hag : C+S Book Club

If you’re Canadian, imaginative, bookwormish, or red-headed, chances are at some point you read and loved Anne of Green Gables. Published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story is a timeless tale of orphans and family and imagination and screwing up your hair and dreams and getting your friend drunk by accident and Canada and Canadians and will they/won’t they romance and child-buying. Especially child-buying. When Anne, a plucky carrot-topped orphan with a heart of gold, ends up in Green Gables, she brings love, light, and happiness to Matthew and Marilla, a brother and sister who are married or whatever. Not to ruin this children’s classic for you, but Marilla wasn’t a kindly old lady trying to give an orphan a new start in life. She was a creepy church hag. Here’s why:

Marilla Tried To Buy A Little Boy To Do Chores

When her brother-husband got too old to run the farm, Marilla did the only logical thing (if you’re creepy and also awful) – she bought an orphan boy to do chores. Or tried to, because she got sent an orphan girl instead. Like Target, the orphan asylum has a pretty liberal return policy, but to her credit Marilla does keep the kid.

There Are Church Ladies, And Then There Are Church-Hags

… and Marilla is the latter. She initially kept Anne on a trial basis, like a mail-order vacuum. Even after she made up her mind, she wasn’t so sure about Anne –  because as a neglected orphan/indentured servant, I guess Anne’s bosses forgot to teach her about Jesus. Keep in mind, Anne was 11 and had already raised two families of what I can only picture as 19th century Garbage Pail Kids, so I guess she didn’t have time for scripture. Sorry Church-Hag, but she didn’t. To her credit (?), Marilla tried to buy a pre-Christianized orphan: she specifically told Rachel that she didn’t want a “London street Arab.” When Anne screwed up her bedtime prayers because nobody had ever cared about her enough to tuck her into bed and teach her social norms, Marilla said “Don’t you know it’s a terrible wicked thing not to say your prayers every night? I’m afraid you are a very bad little girl.”  But later,  when Anne tells Marilla about her boring day at church, “Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said […] were what she herself had really thought deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity.”

Yep. Marilla doesn’t even like church, but she’s still obsessed with it and tells small children that they’re “very bad” because nobody told them how to pray. And that, my friends, is a Church-Hag.

And Remember That Shit With The Brooch?

This is like 50% Marilla being a creepy church hag and 50% Anne being an idiot, so maybe you get the family you deserve. Anne gets all worked about about going to her first picnic and eating her first ice cream, and although picnics are uniformly less fun than you think they’d be (it’s seriously just eating, but outside), ice cream is awesome and she’s right to care so much. But Anne borrows Marilla’s brooch and leaves it on her shawl, and then Marilla thinks Anne stole it because orphans and heathens or something. So Marilla says Anne can’t go to the picnic unless she confesses to taking it. Anne gives a false confession under duress, and I can’t blame her because I would have confessed to murder when I was 11 if it meant I could get some Ben & Jerry’s. Still would. Then Marilla’s all “well, now you definitely can’t go to the picnic,” and Anne doesn’t know that picnics are lame yet so she is pissed. Then they find the brooch, and Marilla learns a valuable lesson that non-church hags never really need to learn in the first place: not to badger orphan children into confessing things they never did because you can’t keep proper inventory of your own stupid brooches.

She Uses Wine “Medicinally” … But We All Know What’s Up

Anne tries to give Diana raspberry cordial, but accidentally (or “accidentally”) rips into Marilla’s secret stash of currant wine instead. Marilla makes the following excuses and admissions:

  • “Well, this story will be a nice handle for those folks who are so down on me for making currant wine” – so, it’s known in the community that Marilla has a problem.
  • ” I haven’t made any for three years ever since I found out that the minister didn’t approve”- EVEN YOUR MINISTER, Marilla. Even your minister.
  • “I just kept that bottle for sickness.” – AKA withdrawal tremors
  • “[The currant wine] couldn’t have the least effect on anybody” – well, no, not if your tolerance is off the charts.

Bitch, If You Have Enough Money To Buy A Human Child, You Can Afford Puffed Freaking Sleeves

Damn, Church-Hag. I don’t know the going rate for a chore-orphan in the early 1900s, like how many toonies or whatever, but if you have that kind of money you can probably buy that kid the ugly dresses she wants. So you have to buy a few extra yards of fabric for the kid’s stupid sleeves? Most teenagers at some point will tell you that they “didn’t ask to be born” but seriously, Anne didn’t ask to be born, orphaned, leased out as a work-horse to human breeding farm Mrs. Hammond, so starved for human contact in an orphanage that she creates imaginary friends in the mirror like Tom Hanks on a deserted island with a soccer ball, bought by old married siblings by accident, and then given the worst dresses. Do you know what Marilla dressed Anne in before Matthew took pity on her and bought her those ass-ugly sleeves? Wincey. I Googled it. It’s basically burlap.

Like, did you spend so much buying your orphan that you have to dress her in bag material? That’s not just cruel, that is straight-up terrible budgeting. Get an accountant, Church-Hag. Maybe you could work out a budget to save up for a heart.

You Are The Company You Keep. Marilla’s Company Is Rachel Lynde.

You know those people who manage to insult everyone, but everyone makes excuses for them? That’s Rachel Lynde, Actual Worst Person In The World. So by association, Marilla is the Actual Worst Person In The World. Marilla may be your classic Creepy Church Hag, but Rachel is an even more insidious Church Hag – the normal-seeming gossipy kind who makes fun of orphans. Rachel doesn’t even like Marilla. She compares Marilla and Matthew’s living situation to getting used to being hanged – which, also, is Rachel some kind of idiot, because I’m 100% sure you don’t get used to that over time, you just get more and more dead. Rachel is the kind of mean old bag who meets a motherless child and says things like “She’s terrible skinny and homely. […]  Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! ” That one got me in the gut, as a fellow skinny, freckly redheaded kid and also a human with feelings. But Marilla makes Anne apologize for calling Rachel out, because Marilla is a high-school girl who is friends with the queen bee because she’s too afraid not to be friends with her. Frankly if I want this kind of petty Canadian mean-girling I would just watch season one Paige and Ashley on Degrassi.

Oh. The other “company” Marilla “keeps” is the child she bought by accident, so that doesn’t really speak too well of her either, does it?

The Legacy Lives On

Despite her creepiness, Marilla has some good points. She does decide to keep Anne, and doesn’t do a totally awful job raising her, and Anne is so dense and weird that I can’t blame Marilla for getting frustrated sometimes. When Anne and Gilbert finally get their act together, they even name a kid after her (and honestly, that’s a whole other post — Anne And Gilbert: Shit Or Get Off The Pot, or alternately, Anne And Gilbert: When You Hate Someone It’s Probably Not Because You Secretly Love Them). Marilla was a creepy church hag, there’s no doubt about it, but she was at least a sort of crusty, lovable creepy church hag. In fact, if I ever buy a child to do chores for me, I hope I can be half of the owner-parent that Marilla was to Anne.

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man Or D-Bag: C+S Book Club

Gilbert Blythe just died again. I say again because, had the fictional Gilbert been a real person, he’d be about 120 years old, and sorry friends – or sore-y, Canadian friends – there’s just no way. But for a lot of us, Gilbert lived and breathed through the 1980s CBC Anne Of Green Gables movies. Jonathan Crombie was a Toronto youth acting in school plays when he was cast as Gilbert, and he made the character more lovable than I think he even was on the page.

When Crombie died earlier this month, we lost a little bit of Gilbert Blythe. Ah, but which Gilbert Blythe? Things aren’t always black and white in Avonlea (don’t get me wrong, Avonlea is  very, very white, insomuch that Anne’s red hair is a real exotic shot of diversity). In a previous C+S Book Club installment, we dispelled the idea of Marilla Cuthbert as a kindly yet stern benefactress: in my heart, she is first and foremost a creepy church hag. Likewise, one could argue that Gilbert Blythe is an early 1900s dream man – but just as easily, he could be an old-timey sarsaparilla-scented burlap douchebag. Let’s discuss.

Gilbert Blythe, D-Bag

I’ll defer to our Anne of Green Gables synopsis from our last post about the book: “Published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story is a timeless tale of orphans and family and imagination and screwing up your hair and dreams and getting your friend drunk by accident and Canada and Canadians and will they/won’t they romance and child-buying. Especially child-buying. When Anne, a plucky carrot-topped orphan with a heart of gold, ends up in Green Gables, she brings love, light, and happiness to Matthew and Marilla, a brother and sister who are married or whatever. ” Today, we look into the romance in question, between Anne – a child nobody has ever loved, who longs to achieve despite an early childhood deprived of education – and Gilbert, a boy who has parents and stuff but is still really mean to the orphan who wasn’t allowed to go to school.

I mean, Gilbert. First of all. Your top academic rival is a little girl who had to raise a litter of Garbage Pail twins and talk to herself in the woods instead of going to school. You think she’s weird? I don’t know, maybe it’s because her only childhood friend was herself, in a mirror. Then she finally gets to interact with humans and basically manages not to seem like a feral child – success! And you mock her, day 1. Kind of a dick move, Blythe.

If you’ve forgotten, Gilbert called Anne “carrots” and pulled her hair. Here’s something boys don’t seem to get: it hurts when you pull hair, because that shit is hooked onto your scalp. Also, “carrots” is sort of a juvenile insult for a thirteen-year-old. Oh, what’s that? Isn’t Anne 11? Yeah, she is – but Gilbert missed school for a few years to help out his sick dad or something. If Anne of Green Gables were a 1980s sitcom that’s the part where Anne would scream “Yeah? Well at least you HAVE a father!” and storm off. But the point is, at thirteen it’s pretty pathetic to have to make fun of a child two years younger than you, much less one who is the indentured servant of a mean old bag and an elderly man who’s afraid of her. I’m sure it’s in part due to Gilbert’s teasing that Anne dyed her hair green that one time.

In our last Anne Of Green Gables post, I posited that we could call an Anne and Gilbert post “Anne And Gilbert: Shit Or Get Off The Pot,” or alternately, “Anne And Gilbert: When You Hate Someone It’s Probably Not Because You Secretly Love Them.” If you’re a young lady, I want you to repeat that last title to yourself a few times until it really sinks in. When you hate someone, it’s probably not because you secretly love them. Also, if a boy treats you like garbage it’s probably because he’s garbage, not because he’s in love with you and doesn’t know how to show it. What nonsense is that? But people believe it, and maybe Anne and Gilbert are a little to blame. Or maybe …. maybe she liked him for a reason. Maybe, just maybe, he was the dirtbag of her dreams.

Gilbert Blythe, Dream Man

First of all, in Gilbert’s defense, Anne is kind of an idiot. We know that she grew up in shacks and orphanages, and we aren’t saying it’s her fault she’s an idiot, but she still is. It’s like when that homeschooled kid whose parents forgot to socialize her would transfer to your school, and she just didn’t grasp social norms. You understood that she was struggling with the whole… milieu, or what have you…. but that didn’t mean you particularly wanted to hang out on weekends (don’t worry, I know, #NotAllHomeschoolers).

So, yeah, he did call her carrots. She was particularly sensitive about her red hair, so I do get that. But that was ONE TIME. Chill, Anne. You’re going to let that follow you for your entire high school experience, or whatever you call high school when it’s a one-room schoolhouse and your teacher is banging Prissy Andrews? He pulled your hair, he didn’t kill your parents. He couldn’t because you don’t have any. As far as insults go, carrots is pretty weak. Hair-pulling is admittedly shitty, but holy cow, Anne broke a slate over his head. Slates were what chalkboards were made of before Pinterest invented chalkboard paint, and those things had sharp edges. Disproportional use of force, Anne. Jeez. Anything stupid Gilbert did after that point is probably because you concussed him.

Also, Gilbert isn’t the one who declared an academic rivalry; that was all Anne. And when you really think about it, she picked the kid who had been out of school for two years taking care of a parent (pressed much?). Talk about low-hanging fruit.

Anne didn’t really chill out until Gilbert saved her life. Gilbert wouldn’t have had to save Anne’s life if she hadn’t set herself off down a body of water pretending to be a poem. Classic Anne, y’all. Also I was joking that it’s Gilbert’s fault she dyed her hair green; that was her own shit.

My take? As a kid, I was firmly in the Gilbert Blythe, D-Bag camp. He reminded me of boys who would make fun of me for having red hair, or freckles, or reading too much. But now I see that Anne needs to get a damn grip. A lot of people are kind of awful when they’re 13. I’d go so far as to say that most kids hit a developmental stage of just being horrible people somewhere around middle school. So Gilbert made fun of you one time? Meh. No big. I’m glad that Anne eventually realized that he had a good heart, sharp mind, and awesome hair so their six kids weren’t all total carrots. And considering they named their son Shirley, those kids needed all the help they could get.

 

Marilla Cuthbert Was A Creepy Church Hag : C+S Book Club

If you’re Canadian, imaginative, bookwormish, or red-headed, chances are at some point you read and loved Anne of Green Gables. Published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s story is a timeless tale of orphans and family and imagination and screwing up your hair and dreams and getting your friend drunk by accident and Canada and Canadians and will they/won’t they romance and child-buying. Especially child-buying. When Anne, a plucky carrot-topped orphan with a heart of gold, ends up in Green Gables, she brings love, light, and happiness to Matthew and Marilla, a brother and sister who are married or whatever. Not to ruin this children’s classic for you, but Marilla wasn’t a kindly old lady trying to give an orphan a new start in life. She was a creepy church hag. Here’s why:

Marilla Tried To Buy A Little Boy To Do Chores

When her brother-husband got too old to run the farm, Marilla did the only logical thing (if you’re creepy and also awful) – she bought an orphan boy to do chores. Or tried to, because she got sent an orphan girl instead. Like Target, the orphan asylum has a pretty liberal return policy, but to her credit Marilla does keep the kid.

There Are Church Ladies, And Then There Are Church-Hags

… and Marilla is the latter. She initially kept Anne on a trial basis, like a mail-order vacuum. Even after she made up her mind, she wasn’t so sure about Anne –  because as a neglected orphan/indentured servant, I guess Anne’s bosses forgot to teach her about Jesus. Keep in mind, Anne was 11 and had already raised two families of what I can only picture as 19th century Garbage Pail Kids, so I guess she didn’t have time for scripture. Sorry Church-Hag, but she didn’t. To her credit (?), Marilla tried to buy a pre-Christianized orphan: she specifically told Rachel that she didn’t want a “London street Arab.” When Anne screwed up her bedtime prayers because nobody had ever cared about her enough to tuck her into bed and teach her social norms, Marilla said “Don’t you know it’s a terrible wicked thing not to say your prayers every night? I’m afraid you are a very bad little girl.”  But later,  when Anne tells Marilla about her boring day at church, “Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said […] were what she herself had really thought deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly taken visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity.”

Yep. Marilla doesn’t even like church, but she’s still obsessed with it and tells small children that they’re “very bad” because nobody told them how to pray. And that, my friends, is a Church-Hag.

And Remember That Shit With The Brooch?

This is like 50% Marilla being a creepy church hag and 50% Anne being an idiot, so maybe you get the family you deserve. Anne gets all worked about about going to her first picnic and eating her first ice cream, and although picnics are uniformly less fun than you think they’d be (it’s seriously just eating, but outside), ice cream is awesome and she’s right to care so much. But Anne borrows Marilla’s brooch and leaves it on her shawl, and then Marilla thinks Anne stole it because orphans and heathens or something. So Marilla says Anne can’t go to the picnic unless she confesses to taking it. Anne gives a false confession under duress, and I can’t blame her because I would have confessed to murder when I was 11 if it meant I could get some Ben & Jerry’s. Still would. Then Marilla’s all “well, now you definitely can’t go to the picnic,” and Anne doesn’t know that picnics are lame yet so she is pissed. Then they find the brooch, and Marilla learns a valuable lesson that non-church hags never really need to learn in the first place: not to badger orphan children into confessing things they never did because you can’t keep proper inventory of your own stupid brooches.

She Uses Wine “Medicinally” … But We All Know What’s Up

Anne tries to give Diana raspberry cordial, but accidentally (or “accidentally”) rips into Marilla’s secret stash of currant wine instead. Marilla makes the following excuses and admissions:

  • “Well, this story will be a nice handle for those folks who are so down on me for making currant wine” – so, it’s known in the community that Marilla has a problem.
  • ” I haven’t made any for three years ever since I found out that the minister didn’t approve”- EVEN YOUR MINISTER, Marilla. Even your minister.
  • “I just kept that bottle for sickness.” – AKA withdrawal tremors
  • “[The currant wine] couldn’t have the least effect on anybody” – well, no, not if your tolerance is off the charts.

 

Bitch, If You Have Enough Money To Buy A Human Child, You Can Afford Puffed Freaking Sleeves

Damn, Church-Hag. I don’t know the going rate for a chore-orphan in the early 1900s, like how many toonies or whatever, but if you have that kind of money you can probably buy that kid the ugly dresses she wants. So you have to buy a few extra yards of fabric for the kid’s stupid sleeves? Most teenagers at some point will tell you that they “didn’t ask to be born” but seriously, Anne didn’t ask to be born, orphaned, leased out as a work-horse to human breeding farm Mrs. Hammond, so starved for human contact in an orphanage that she creates imaginary friends in the mirror like Tom Hanks on a deserted island with a soccer ball, bought by old married siblings by accident, and then given the worst dresses. Do you know what Marilla dressed Anne in before Matthew took pity on her and bought her those ass-ugly sleeves? Wincey. I Googled it. It’s basically burlap.

Like, did you spend so much buying your orphan that you have to dress her in bag material? That’s not just cruel, that is straight-up terrible budgeting. Get an accountant, Church-Hag. Maybe you could work out a budget to save up for a heart.

You Are The Company You Keep. Marilla’s Company Is Rachel Lynde.

You know those people who manage to insult everyone, but everyone makes excuses for them? That’s Rachel Lynde, Actual Worst Person In The World. So by association, Marilla is the Actual Worst Person In The World. Marilla may be your classic Creepy Church Hag, but Rachel is an even more insidious Church Hag – the normal-seeming gossipy kind who makes fun of orphans. Rachel doesn’t even like Marilla. She compares Marilla and Matthew’s living situation to getting used to being hanged – which, also, is Rachel some kind of idiot, because I’m 100% sure you don’t get used to that over time, you just get more and more dead. Rachel is the kind of mean old bag who meets a motherless child and says things like “She’s terrible skinny and homely. […]  Lawful heart, did any one ever see such freckles? And hair as red as carrots! ” That one got me in the gut, as a fellow skinny, freckly redheaded kid and also a human with feelings. But Marilla makes Anne apologize for calling Rachel out, because Marilla is a high-school girl who is friends with the queen bee because she’s too afraid not to be friends with her. Frankly if I want this kind of petty Canadian mean-girling I would just watch season one Paige and Ashley on Degrassi.

Oh. The other “company” Marilla “keeps” is the child she bought by accident, so that doesn’t really speak too well of her either, does it?

The Legacy Lives On

Despite her creepiness, Marilla has some good points. She does decide to keep Anne, and doesn’t do a totally awful job raising her, and Anne is so dense and weird that I can’t blame Marilla for getting frustrated sometimes. When Anne and Gilbert finally get their act together, they even name a kid after her (and honestly, that’s a whole other post — Anne And Gilbert: Shit Or Get Off The Pot, or alternately, Anne And Gilbert: When You Hate Someone It’s Probably Not Because You Secretly Love Them). Marilla was a creepy church hag, there’s no doubt about it, but she was at least a sort of crusty, lovable creepy church hag. In fact, if I ever buy a child to do chores for me, I hope I can be half of the owner-parent that Marilla was to Anne.