5 Things that Anne of Green Gables Taught me About Being a Person

After reading Anne of Green Gables to my ten-year old daughter, I continued on my own and have now found myself in the third book of the Anne series written by L.M Montgomery.  I read these books as a teenager, and I am remembering again why they’re my favorite book series of all time. 

I do tend to get caught up in the romanticism of the “good old days”, and since these books were written a hundred years ago, there’s a lot of horses and buggies, baking and sewing, farming and housework.  In Anne’s world, people knew all their neighbors, they all went to church, they had lots of children, they were more tuned into nature. 

But despite the romance of days gone by, it was Anne herself that was what drew me into this series.  Anne was a role-model for me.  One I keep trying to live up too.  Her character was so positive and good, yet she still struggled with her bad temper and vanity, which made her totally relatable. 

5 Things I’ve Learned From Anne

Be Kind 

Anne had a knack for bringing out the best in people and spreading happiness wherever she went.  She always looked for the good in others and gave them a chance, often winning over the old grump in the story.   

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

She made friends easily and nurtured her friendships so they grew deep and strong. She cared about improving her community and making the world a little better during her life.

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people know more. . .though I know that is the noblest ambition. . .but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me. . .to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”

Be Smart

Anne loved to learn and she was serious and dedicated to school. 

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world.”

She was one of the few women that got a college education in those days and helped normalize ambition and the pursuit of knowledge for women. 

Work Hard

It wasn’t enough for Anne to simply attend school.  She pushed herself to be the best in her class and to try her hardest.  

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

She was always hustling.  She taught at the local school, helped with the housework, cooking and farm chores, brought up a set of orphan twins, and kept up with her college academics. She pursued and won scholarships, so she could pay her own way through school.  She never shirked from her responsibilities. 

She had looked her duty courageously in the face and found it a friend – as duty ever is when we meet it frankly.

Find Joy in the Small Things

Although Anne was constantly in her imagination, she was also quite present to her surroundings. The smallest moments of beauty would not go unnoticed; she would let them overtake her and fill her with a sense of awe and momentary joy. 

She drank in the beauty of the summer dusk, sweet-scented with flower breaths from the garden below and sibilant and rustling from the stir of poplars. The eastern sky above the firs was flushed faintly pink from the reflection of the west, and Anne was wondering dreamily if the spirit of color looked like that.

It didn’t take much to make Anne happy, a night in a spare bedroom, a blossom tree outside her window, a patch of sun through some fall leaves. It was the small joys of life that she appreciated.

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.

Be Yourself

And my favorite thing about Anne was that she was weird.  She was a dreamer and poet, and the way she talked was different and strange.  

“Listen to the trees talking in their sleep,” she whispered, as he lifted her to the ground. “What nice dreams they must have!”

She didn’t quite fit in with the sensible and straight-forward country folk she lived around, but she didn’t change herself to fit in.  

For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All ‘spirit and fire and dew,’ as she was, the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. 

And those who loved her, loved those weird quirks and oddities about her.  Especially her Gilbert. 

She came out of her reverie with a deep sigh and looked at him with a dreamy gaze of a soul that had been wandering afar, star-led.

Growing up with Anne as my role-model helped me feel like I could be confident in my truest and weirdest self.  She made me feel like someone out there would love all those quirks and peculiarities about me.  She made me be more of a dreamer and a lover of beauty and books.

One of my favorite quotes from this series describes what it is about Anne that is so enchanting.

But (Gilbert) meant to keep himself worthy of Anne’s friendship and perhaps some distant day her love; and he watched over word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes were to pass in judgment on it.  She held over him the unconscious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, wields over her friends; an influence which would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals and which she would certainly lose if she were ever false to them. In Gilbert’s eyes Anne’s greatest charm was the fact that she never stooped to the petty practices of so many of the Avonlea girls–the small jealousies, the little deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor.  Anne held herself apart from all of this, not consciously or of design, but simply because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in its motives and aspirations. 

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