Friday, March 16, 2012

Anne of Green Gables Week: Plagiarizing Little Women

Perhaps you may have noticed before that the proposal scenes in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987) and in Little Women (1994) are eerily similar.  If you haven't noticed it, check out this (horribly bad-quality) video. 

Now, of course, the major difference between the two scenes is that Anne and Gilbert's story ends rather differently than Jo and Laurie's. But I am not going to go off on a rabbit trail about why I think Anne and Gil belonged together but Jo and Laurie didn't.  I am NOT.  Willpower, willpower.

Instead, I'll show you another instance where the two stories overlap a good bit.  Several instances, in fact.  I probably should have started here at the beginning in the first place... oh well.

In both stories, the main character attempts to publish a story in a magazine, and in both stories the hero reacts in pretty much the same way.  See below.

Yes, yes, yes, I know this picture isn't from that scene, but I like it. :)

"Very well, then, come on. It's a secret, and if I tell you, you must tell me yours."
"I haven't got any," began Jo, but stopped suddenly, remembering that she had.
"You know you have--you can't hide anything, so up and fess, or I won't tell," cried Laurie.
"Is your secret a nice one?"
"Oh, isn't it! All about people you know, and such fun! You ought to hear it, and I've been aching to tell it this long time. Come, you begin."
"You'll not say anything about it at home, will you?"
"Not a word."
"And you won't tease me in private?"
"I never tease."
"Yes, you do. You get everything you want out of people. I don't know how you do it, but you are a born wheedler."
"Thank you. Fire away."
"Well, I've left two stories with a newspaperman, and he's to give his answer next week," whispered Jo, in her confidant's ear.
"Hurrah for Miss March, the celebrated American authoress!" cried Laurie, throwing up his hat and catching it again, to the great delight of two ducks, four cats, five hens, and half a dozen Irish children, for they were out of the city now.
"Hush! It won't come to anything, I dare say, but I couldn't rest till I had tried, and I said nothing about it because I didn't want anyone else to be disappointed."
"It won't fail. Why, Jo, your stories are works of Shakespeare compared to half the rubbish that is published every day. Won't it be fun to see them in print, and shan't we feel proud of our authoress?"

~Little Women, chapter 14

Anne: What about Diana Barry?
Gilbert: Ah-uh.  Not until you spill the beans.
Anne: You won't say anything to your folks? Or Jane Andrews or Charlie Sloane?
Gilbert: [sighs] On my honor.
Anne: And you promise you won't ever tease me about this?
Gilbert: I wouldn't risk your anger.
Anne: [sighs, hands over envelope containing her story]
Gilbert: [reads from letter] Dear Miss Shirley. [smirk] We regret to return the enclosed manuscript "Averil's Atonement", but we are unable to accept it for publication.  Sincerely yours... Women's Home Journal magazine?
Anne: You know the story I wrote this spring? I'm... attempting to have it published.
Gilbert: [gasps] Anne, that's tremendous! [rings bicycle bell] Listen to this, everybody! Avonlea's public school teacher soon to become world-famous Canadian author---pphhhhh. [Anne claps her hand over his mouth]
Anne: It hasn't happened yet, you fool, and don't you dare tell anyone! [swats him with envelope]

~Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987)

The of course there are a few other bits and snippets that sound rather alike. "I'm sorry!" Jo laments in the movie. "Meg always makes me take the gentleman's part at home! It's a shame you don't know the lady's part!"  Anne, similarly, apologizes for her bad dancing (but not because she's used to dancing the gentleman's part).  "I'm so sorry, Gil... I must have two left feet."  And of course, in both instances, each couple is dancing alone and away from the rest of the crowd, which is Quite Cute.

Do you see any other similarities between these two stories?  I'm inclined to think that Lucy Maud Montgomery stole at least a few ideas from Louisa May Alcott... or at least Sullivan Films did. :)  Then again, The Sequel was made seven years before Little Women, so perhaps Columbia Pictures were the plagiarizers. Or perhaps it is all a great coincidence.  ("You think that, Jane, if it gives you comfort.")

What do you think?


Rachel and Sarah said...

Wow! I'd never considered that, but you have hit it on the head! :)
"I like that--you know, I do. Put it on my luggage: PJ...Ah-ha! Ah-ha!"

Oh, I do love this Anne-week! -Rach

Anne-girl said...

What ever happened to three? We have two ducks, four cats, five hens, and half a dozen Irish children, but no three!

Hayden said...

I never realized just how similar these two are...and really, I don't know which one copied the other. Maybe it was just a really weird coincidence?

Or...maybe not. They really are VERY alike...

And yes, Anne and Gilbert belonged together and Laurie and Jo didn't. It's the plain truth. Laurie and Jo are too much alike; they really would have ended up "killing" each other :P

Melody said...

Haha...we've never 'talked about' THIS one, have we? But it was coming. I've thought about it many a time.

Haha, pity Laurie didn't say "I wouldn't risk your anger."
MMG. =)

Also--the bit with Amy at the beginning not fainting right (or whatever it was) sounded Almost Exactly like that girl in the Sequel--"I don't want to bruise myself. If I can go down easily, I will." haha

(You see I have read SOME of LW. :P Including the proposal scene. heh...)

I've always just thought that Sullivan Films stole ideas from Little Women. haha

Haha, dancing apart from everyone else is Quite Cute... you should stick it in... a book. Just sayin'.

"You think that, Jane, if it gives you comfort."
Just don't quote that in front of women who work in second hand stores.
*Makes a goofy 'private joke' look*

Lauren said...

I've always been inclined to think that L.M Montgomery took a few ideas from Alcott because Little Women was such a popular book, I think it likely she would have read it. Those scenes are so sad in both movies! But yes, Laurie and Jo just wouldn't work together:-)

Alexandra said...

I KNOWWWWWW. Well, AGG the movie is before LW the movie, but all that was in the book...IDK! What I do like about both Anne and Jo is that they go trotting all over the place wanting to do "something more"...and both grow up and realize that "the things dearest to my heart are right here". Wish they'd do that more often in stories now. :-)

I'd definitely say there was some copying done. By whom...we may never know. :-P

Rachel Olivia said...

I am soooo glad you posted this! I want to do a post about it too. The stolen things were from the Little Women novel to the movie (exact lines so it was truly plagiarism) and was NOT L.M. Montgomery's doing at all and you CAN tell who has done it, but the similar author/main character plot is too common to bother about. The Anne novels were QUITE MORE than good enough in themselves, and they did not need to be adjusted in the movies. I do remember something else. I read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and much of this story seemed like Anne of Green Gables (Rebecca seemed similar to Anne), but this story and herioine aggravated me whereas I love Anne and her books. Unfortunately Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms was published first, so I sure hope that L.M. Montgomery never read them-I do not want her to be a copier-her books are two good!

Leanna said...

Yes, I've thought that, too. I'd have to say I'm sticking by Alcott's side, whether she's the originator or not. =) I guess Montgomery thought a good idea shouldn't be contained between the covers of just one book. =)

Sunny Smith said...

Haha, that must be why I like the two so much! I never did realize it until you pointed it out.

Loving this week! Great idea.

Ella said...

I hadn't noticed that before!
The words and the screen were hilarous!
Thanks for the post!

Lauren said...

Dear Miss Dashwood (I did say Hi at first, but it seemed funny simply saying 'hi' to a Jane Austen character that's why I called you 'dear', sorry if I don't make any sence)

I never thought of that before! Hmm, I rally can't choose, I love both movies and I don't want to think badly of one of the authors.

Call me Jane if you like (are you referring to Miss Bennet?) But I am really inclined to think the best of both of them.


Charity U said...

That video made me smile. :) They ARE terribly similar!

Katie Edwards said...

I think most of those scenes you've mentioned were from the adaptation rather than taken directly from the book. I'm not so familiar with Little Women, though, so can't comment on that.

Anonymous said...

So many similarities between Little Women and Anne of Green Gables! (Love them both... but I'll admit to loving Anne more.) A few similarities between Jo and Anne that I came up with:

-Both girls are shown doing clumsy things due to their inabilities to pay attention (Jo burning her dress and Meg's hair, Anne forgetting to cover a canister so that a mouse drowns in the sauce, etc...)

-Both girls are very hot tempered

-Both girls participate in reenactments of poems and plays (Jo and her sisters act "Pilgrims Progress" as well as her original plays, Anne and her friends reenact "The Lady of Shallot")

-Both girls are vain about their hair and lose it (Jo sells hers, Anne dyes hers badly and has to cut it)

-Both girls become companions to rich, cranky old ladies (Aunt Josephine Barry/Aunt March) who later leave money/gifts to the girls.

-Both girls leave home to become more "worldly," live in a boarding house, become teachers.

-Both girls are upset to find out that a close friend/sister is getting married (Diana/Fred Wright and Meg/John Brooke). They purposely barge in on the couples' romantic moments.

-They get the news of those relationships from Gilbert and Laurie. Both boys try to comfort the girls that they will understand better when they fall in love, which both girls vehemently deny they will.

-Both girls reject marriage proposals from their best friends because they don't want things to change.

-Both girls start out writing sensational period fiction for magazines. Both have a love interest who critiques them honestly, saying that they are talented but should switch from overdramatic writing styles to writing what they know.

-Both girls then write books based on their lives and the people they love, which are successfully published.

-Both girls are courted by a rich man and a poor man; both choose the poor man.

SongInMyHeart said...

Anne of Green Gables and the Sequel also have extreme similarities to the 1949 little women. There's even a scene in AofGG the Sequel, the one where Ms. Brooke is explaining the rules of the school and the script is ridiculously close to The Sound of Music where Captain Von Trapp is explaining the rules to Maria when she arrives at the house.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Anne of Green Gables the sequel and Little Women from 1949. The proposal scenes are almost identical. It seems that the Sullivan Entertainment used snippets from 1949 Little Women.

Anonymous said...

A.Anneophile. I thought that there was a great similarity. The ver first time I viewed Little Women(1994), I could not help but think of the proposal scene in Anne of Green Gable.. glad to see that many minds think alike. thank you for posting.

Anonymous said...

I noticed the same things! :) Thanks for a good post!
(And I love that line by Mr. Bennet at the of my favorites.) :)

ursula said...

This is why I don't think the Sullivan films are that great. In Little Women it was a BAD thing that Jo/Laurie were too alike, while in the Anne books it was a GOOD thing Gilbert/Anne were alike, so it was silly to rip off the dialogue from Little Women for the Anne movies.

ThatDeborahGirl said...

It's a well known fact that the "writers" for the Anne of Green Gables borrowed liberally from "Little Women" for their dialogue." There's even a list of similarities on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

Since I have both series practically memorized, it makes for a jarring experience to hear lines from "Little Women" spoken in the Anne of Greene Gables movies as if they were original dialogue and makes the movies unwatchable for me.

Ketutar said...

What do I think?

The word "plagiarizing" actually means something specific, and it's not "being inspired by" or "talking about the same themes" or "having a similar scene in the book". You are accusing Lucy Maud Montgomery of stealing and lying about it to sell Louisa Alcott's work for her own profit. I don't like your accusations.
But - it is always possible.

So, let's move on to your reasons.

You are accusing her of the sins of the tv manuscript writers. As if you weren't aware of that people who write film manuscripts based on books aren't always faithful to the original text, and often veer away from it, even to the extend that their work isn't even recognizable.

How was the scene treated in the book?
Anne spoke with Diana about it, not with Gilbert. She mentioned it to Gilbert: "She would not read the story to Gilbert, although she told him about it.
“If it is a success you’ll see it when it is published, Gilbert, but if it is a failure nobody shall ever see it.”
No hat throwing, hurrays or Irish children.
Doesn't sound like a plagiat to me.

You quote the book, published 1868/69, and compare that to the script written some time before 1987 when the movie came out, and then you say "The Sequel was made seven years before Little Women, so perhaps Columbia Pictures were the plagiarizers". That the text YOU QUOTE existed more than 100 years before EITHER SCRIPT WAS WRITTEN doesn't seem to have any connection to any of this in your mind.

What I think is that you owe a HUGE apology to ms. Montgomery.

Miss Dashwood said...


I'm sorry this lighthearted post written over five years ago offended you. That was certainly never the intention, and if you go back and read it more carefully, you'll see that the majority of it is tongue-in-cheek and merely pointing out a funny coincidence between the two scenes. You're right, I do use the word "plagiarism" lightly, but again, the entire post was meant to be taken in a light and funny way. I'm certainly not accusing anyone of a crime, and if it comes across that way, I am sorry to hear it. That is not the way I meant this to be at all.

I welcome your future comments here and am happy to hear differing viewpoints and even criticism of my writing, as that is how we all learn and grow in creativity. I would appreciate it in future if you kept your comments a little more courteous, as I'd like to maintain a pleasant atmosphere on this blog. (Didn't delete your comment, though, as I don't want to silence people who don't agree with me. That's not my intention either. I just ask that you keep it civil.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Unknown said...

I've always thought the same thing! They are very similar in several ways, and the proposal scene is almost exactly the same in both.

Anonymous said...

The scene belongs to Little Women. It was NOT in the Anne books. I read both. I noticed this stolen scene the first time I saw the Anne movie. Why the screen writer chose to use almost the exact same lines is beyond me. So obvious. The producers are lucky that Little Women is so old that they can't be sued. Anyway, love both books and movies, but the plagiarized scene was totally unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Take a deep breath and just relax. Its not that serious.

Beverley Palasik said...

The dialogue about "crying over an English lesson" in the Anne sequel is directly stolen from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I had no idea until I was given a copy of that book and was reading dialogue I'd only ever associated with the Sullivan film. Was totally shocked! It left me wondering how many other snippets of various lesser-known books were used.