Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Period Drama Heroines #1: Anne Shirley

Yet Another Period Drama Blog

"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. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
~Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, ch. 2

Now before you all look at the title of this post and go, "What? Wait a minute..." and then scramble through my back posts wondering what on earth happened to Heroine #2, let me just say that she's coming.  Eventually.  But she isn't Anne, and I wanted to do Anne for Anne week, and so I muxed things ip a little.  You'll survive.

So, my favorite period drama heroine of all time.  I'm actually rather nervous about writing this post.  I so badly want to do Anne justice, and I don't quite feel equal to the task of writing about someone I love and admire so much (yes, she's fictional--your point?). 

Mark Twain once said that Anne Shirley was the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice (of Wonderland fame, for all you non-Lewis-Caroll-fans out there).  This sweet comment almost makes up for his crack about Jane Austen.  (The gall of that man.  I don't care if he did write some of the best American literature ever, NOBODY says that kind of stuff about my Miss Austen and gets away with it.  Nobody.  Mark Twain is hereby subjected to the Miss Dashwood Malicious and Menacing Menace.)   

See? This is Anne's reaction to Twain's audacity.
I'm going off on a rabbit trail again.  Back to Anne.  

So, why do I love Anne-spelled-with-an-E Shirley? Or should I say, how do I love her?  Let me count the ways.

Firstly, she was born in March and all people born in that delicious month are automatically amazing in my book. :D Secondly, she is just so ridiculously endearing.  She may be over-the-top at times, she may talk as if her tongue was hinged in the middle, she may get into countless scrapes, but you can't help loving her anyway.  Anyway? What am I saying? You can't help loving her because of all the aforementioned aforementions! 

One of the things I love about Anne is her refreshing real-ness.  I firmly believe that the characters are the best part of any book worth reading, and Anne just makes her books sparkle.  You can really imagine just sitting down and having a good conversation with her.  She says things whenever they come into her head, with no worries or self-consciousness.  This quote is one of my favorites:  "I'm always afraid going over bridges. I can't help imagining that perhaps just as we get to the middle, they'll crumple up like a jack-knife and nip us. So I shut my eyes. But I always have to open them for all when I think we're getting near the middle. Because, you see, if the bridge did crumple up I'd want to see it crumple."

Anne talks.  A Lot.  Which is something that I can completely identify with, because I talk a lot too.  "But I can stop when I make up my mind to it, although it's difficult."  

But of course it's not that difficult to stop when it's physically impossible to say a single word.

Anne's imaginative.  She's dreamy.  She makes up things in her head when the reality before her isn't up to snuff.  She doesn't let things get her down.  Oh, sure, she's dramatic and emotional and has been known to sob her eyes out over the fact that her bosom friend will someday marry and leave her (I love that part) but in general she's an incurable, cock-eyed optimist.

Marilla: You set your heart too much on frivolous things and then crash down into despair when you don't get them. 
Anne: I know. I can't help flying up on the wings of anticipation. It's as glorious as soaring through a sunset... almost pays for the thud. 
Marilla: Well, maybe it does. But I'd rather walk calmly along and do without flying AND thud.

I'm more like Marilla, to be honest-- I'd rather do without the thud, and if it means doing without the flying, I'm okay with that.  But Anne is not.  Anne would rather fly.  And then thud.  Which she does, briefly, up on Moody Spurgeon's kitchen roof. :P

Anne is also one of the friendliest heroines I've ever been acquainted with.  Obviously she and Diana Barry are besties, but just think of all the unlikely friendships that Anne forms over the course of the books and movies.  Imagine, if you will, how sad and lonely Katherine Brooke's life might have been if it weren't for Anne.  Without Anne, Leslie Moore would still be bitter and resentful, Philippa Gordon would be frivolously frittering her life away, Davy Keith might have grown up to be a juvenile delinquent and Josie Pye might have been even worse than she already is.  Because how do you know that Anne didn't have a good influence on her?  I mean, if Josie had never met Anne, she might have been a gazillion times more snotty and insufferable.  If that is possible.  My dad loves to quote Diana's line from the movie" "Josie doesn't have to cheat.  She just does it 'cause she's a Pye."

But lest you begin to think Anne's perfect, I'll set you straight.

The real problem with Anne is that she doesn't see what's right under her nose for three entire books and two entire movies.  She's so caught up in the "wings of anticipation" and her romantic dreams that she doesn't see the Prince Charming walking her home from teaching school every day.  Roy Gardner and all his melancholy inscrutability seemed more attractive to her than the realistic, humorous, sweet, wonderful (and handsome, can't forget that) Gilbert Blythe.  Now, we all know that she got over the childish grudge regarding the slate by the end of the first movie (and the first book), but it took her FOUR HOURS of movie-time in The Sequel (and two more novels) to finally realize that Gil was the one for her.  And really, if he hadn't gotten typhoid, she might still be waltzing around with her head in the clouds... without him.  That typhoid germ-virus-thingy was the real matchmaker.  Emma Woodhouse can't even compete.

But anyway, regardless of how or when or where, she finally did come to her senses and realized that she didn't need diamond sunbursts or marble halls...

Everybody say "awwwww."  Right now. (Please.)

(I didn't make this, by the way, but I can't remember where I found it.) 
I've been known to frequently match songs with characters as if I were creating musicals, and when I think of Anne Shirley, the two songs that come to mind are "Pure Imagination" and "I See The Light".  The latter especially. 

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in

All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here, blinking in starlight
Now I'm here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be!

All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were.
All at once, everything looks different
Now that I see you.

"I don't see how you could keep on loving me when I was such a little fool ... I don't want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want YOU. You see I'm quite as shameless as Phil about it. Sunbursts and marble halls may be all very well, but there is more `scope for imagination' without them. And as for the waiting, that doesn't matter. We'll just be happy, waiting and working for each other--and dreaming. Oh, dreams will be very sweet now." 
~Anne of the Island, ch. 41


Alexandra said...

The audacity of Twain. Oh, well, at least it wasn't TSP he was talking about. Or I'd be burning Huckleberry Finn right now. :-D

Loved this post. I might have just squealed a few times...and sighed...and just died. Like I said on Maria Elisabeth's post...Anne is one of my literary twins (Marianne is another :-)). I don't know if watching her my whole life warped my personality or if I was just drawn to her because we were so, so much alike...but it's pretty eeiry sometimes how similar we are. :-) The "flying on the wings of anticipation" quote is one of my faves...you don't know how many times I've been in despair because something didn't work out...and I *knew* it probably wouldn't, but I couldn't help setting my heart on it. :-D

Enjoyed this wayyy too much...and I feel a random Anne/Gilbert post coming on. :-D

By the way...LOVE the I See the Light pairing (and so glad I'm not the only one pairing random songs with movies :-D). I also feel (if I can ever find Anne clips) a fanvid coming...

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Marcia said...

the last quote makes me feel hopelessly romantic, and makes me want to cry with happiness.... gahh! lovely post, dear, just lovely!!

Hannah said...

I absolutely love this post and the whole Anne of Green Gables week! I'm a new blog follower - just found it because someone else posted about the Anne event and I knew I had to come investigate. I am always SO delighted to find other people who love Anne (& Jane Austen & period dramas!). This was such a lovely tribute to one of literature's most charming heroines :) Can't wait to see what else you've got in store for this week!

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Beautiful post. Very well thought out and executed. I think anybody who has not read (or watched, I suppose, but reading is better) about Anne will definitely want to now.

Rachel Olivia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ella said...

I love Anne!
AGG was one the first period drama movie I watched and I remeber enjoying it,but not quite understnading it at a young age.

Miss Dashwood said...

Anne is completely incapable of warping anyone's personality--- although she may very well have influenced you, it could only have been for the better, right? Right. :)
I had some Anne clips from the first movie before our laptop crashed... I'll see if I can dig them out and send them to you. If they're still there. Which I'm not sure they are. Silly computers...

I agree, I LOVE that quote. I completely forgot to include the "I went searching for my dreams outside of myself..." quote, but I love that one, too.

Welcome! Thanks so much for following! I'm so glad to find another AofGG lover... we are not so scarce as I once thought. :)

I agree, reading is always better, even though the movies are amazing. :) One of my best friends has a little button that says, "Read the books, then you can complain about the movies with us" but I don't think that quite applies in this case.

Rachel Olivia,
I have to respectfully disagree with you on that point-- I think this portrayal of Anne is very true to the books! Of course, everyone who reads the books will see Anne a little differently, but I think overall the movies did a great job of capturing her essence and spirit. And actually, the movie's second proposal is almost word-for-word from the book! I looooooove it.

Anne was my first period drama too! What a great movie to get started on, isn't it?

Hayden said...

Delightful post!!!

I love what you said about Anne's friendships. I'm sure Josie WOULD be an even worse person if it wasn't for Anne :)

And I was just saying YESTERDAY that Mark Twain's love of Anne Shirley is THE only reason I haven't boycotted/hated/screamed at him for the things he's said about Dear Miss Austen.


AND... You paired Anne of Green Gables with "I See The Light".

Odd's fish, M'dear, you are brilliant. :D

Melody said...

Sigh. Poor {types heroine's name and then erases it} Heroine #2. WE might survive, but she may not. LIMM

Of course people you love and admire can be fictional. That is the general idea.

His "crack about Jane Austen"? That should be plural, my dear. He was ruthless.
*Joins Miss Dashwood with a Malicious and Menacing Martian-scowl at Mark Twain*

Oh! Did I ever tell you my birthday's in March?
Oh wait... you already know my birthday month. Heh. I'm not getting away with that one.

Haha... the quote with the bridge MMG.

Yes you do rather talk a lot. =D I can too... as you WELL know... but then I get in moods where I hardly talk at all. If you were around, I think that might become obsolete, though.

Heeeheeee, I love that part too! Oh wait... we were talking about that before. (Because we like to talk about things.) So you know I love that part, too. (In case you didn't figure out I mean when she's upset about Diana someday marrying and leaving her, hahaha-- it seriously is a lot like me.)

Did I ever mention that I don't like Roy Gardner?
Well, in case I haven't, I'll do so now.
I Don't Like Roy Gardner.

There. =)

And another 'aawwww'...I love that quote at the end.
The Birthday of Their Happiness. tehe ;-)

Lovely post! I didn't get to read it until just now. Delightful.

Bekah said...

I think I said "that's right", "yes, that's true", and "awww" at all the right points. ;)

Loved your post! :D

{And thanks for commenting on my Anne Tag post!}

Ella said...


Rachel Olivia said...

Sorry, my first comment was kind of bratty; I still stick to my negative opinion, but it something that I should have kept to my blog (I mean negative opinions). Oh, and I do want to look up the proposal scenes-for some reason I think I have seen the second proposal more than the first (I have a bad habit of bouncing in and out of movie watching rooms and skipping through movies on Netflix).

Jessica said...

I so adore Anne! And the Anne and Gilbert romance has to be the sweetest story ever. It has always brought me to tears. ;-)

Miss Dashwood said...

MARTIAN-scowl! That was it! Heehee. I'll remembah that for the future.
I don't like Roy Gardner either. I do feel the teensiest bit sorry for him when she turns down his proposal... but then he turns right around and marries another girl, so I don't think he was heartbroken after all. LIMM!

Ah, good. I did too. :) Thank YOU for participating in the Anne tag; I enjoyed your answers!

Rachel Olivia,
You weren't being bratty at all!! Everyone has a right to her own opinion about such things, and though I might not agree with you, that doesn't mean you can't say what you like. You weren't rude at all in what you said, and it was rather refreshing to hear the other side of the argument.
But I still abide by what *I* said. Heehee.

Aww... me too. :)

Katie Edwards said...

I love the bit in Anne of Avonlea when she's daydreaming about her tall, dark, brooding ideal husband, and their "home o'dreams" but Gilbert Blythe keeps popping up helping in the garden and around the house. Dear Anne, doesn't know her own heart.