Anne Shirley, the protagonist of Anne of Green Gables, is a red-headed orphan who ends up being adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert by mistake. Anne has trouble growing accustomed to social etiquette and the expectations placed on her by the adults in her life. She is very intelligent, high-spirited, and determined, yet she is also stubborn and short-tempered. She loves to imagine things and she is very self-conscious about her red hair. Her winsome personality, her high spirits, and her talent for getting into scrapes endear her to her community and her readers.
Marilla Cuthbert is Anne’s adoptive mother and the sister of Matthew Cuthbert. She is strict and often comes off as cold and stern, but she cares deeply for Anne. She is religious and practical; she takes Anne in, seeing it as her duty to care for her and teach her about God. Marilla did not have an easy childhood and did not know much affection, so she finds it difficult to translate her feelings for Anne into words or tender actions. Rather, she cares for Anne by ensuring that her material needs are met. Anne loves Marilla, but she does not realize how deeply Marilla cares for her until towards the end of the novel, especially after Matthew's death.
Matthew Cuthbert is Anne’s adoptive father and the brother of Marilla Cuthbert. He has a strange fear of women but takes a great liking to Anne shortly after her arrival. He is very shy, but Anne feels that he understands her and that she can trust him. He is quiet and a harmless old man, and he is steadfast in his devotion towards Anne. Marilla has a soft spot towards him and often changes her mind if Matthew seeks to persuade her to do so. In spite of his own cheerless upbringing, Matthew intuitively knows how to care for Anne, bringing her pretty things and unfailing kindness.
Diana Barry is Anne’s best friend (a "bosom friend," as Anne says). She is described as kind and pretty, but she lacks Anne’s fiery personality and wild imagination. She is fiercely loyal to Anne however, and the bond between the two becomes tighter than ever as the plot advances. Friendship with Anne opens up a new world for Diana and she learns to appreciate Anne's romantic fancies in her own way.
Gilbert Blythe is Anne’s classmate who teases her about her red hair (because he wanted to talk to her), provoking her into hitting him with a slate. The two develop a rivalry that lasts several years, along with a one-sided crush from Gilbert; they end up on better terms after entering Queen’s Academy. They develop into close friends and later into lovers.
Mrs. Rachel Lynde
One of Anne's most outspoken neighbors, Mrs. Lynde disapproves of Anne's wild attitude and often lectures her on her morals. She lives with her husband Thomas, a mild-mannered man, and maintains mutual respect and contentious friendship with Marilla. She makes it her business to know the goings-on of the entire town, and she often gives her opinion even when no one asked for it.
A stern and often unforgiving woman, Mrs. Barry is Diana's mother. She is harsh when it comes to the rules she expects her family to follow. This is especially evident when Anne accidentally gets Diana intoxicated, leading Mrs. Barry to forbid her daughter from talking to Anne. However, she forgives Anne later when she finds out that Anne saved the life of her younger daughter, Minnie.
Minnie May Barry
The younger sister of Diana. She becomes ill with the croup during a period when Mrs. Barry has forbidden Diana's friendship with Anne. When Anne saves the child's life, she is allowed to rekindle her friendship with Diana.
Miss Muriel Stacy
One of Anne's teachers, as well as her mentor figure. She is well-liked by her students, but her liberal teaching methods often come under fire from some of the more conservative members of the town. Anne admires her and looks up to her as a role model.
Avonlea's minister. A good man, well respected by the community.
The minister's wife and another mentor figure in Anne's life. Mrs. Allan is very young and beautiful, respected by the town for her kindness.
The rich old aunt of Diana; she likes Anne for her active imagination and wit. She often invites Anne to stay with her, as Anne challenges her where others would give in to her demands due only to her age and finances, something that bores her greatly.
A friend of Anne. Ruby likes to share what she has learned about growing from her older sisters; however, she is often hysterical. She prioritizes her many boyfriends over her studies.
A friend of Anne; she is a very sensible and simple girl. Although she is not particularly pretty, she is a very resolute girl. Her life plan—not to rely on marriage to give herself a bright future, but rather to work as a teacher to earn a livelihood—suggests that she values independence and self-sufficiency.
The Pye family has a reputation for bad manners and vanity, and Josie is no different. On one occasion, she even boasts that she had the money to attend school for two years, an incident that reveals her materialistic mindset. She dislikes Anne, is jealous of her popularity, and often provokes her for fun. She dares Anne to walk the ridgepole of Barry's (another of Anne's schoolmates) roof, on account of which Anne suffers an injury to her leg. She swoons over Gilbert for his good looks (she does not care for his cleverness). After he makes it clear that he is not interested in her and that he likes Anne, she comes to dislike him and claims he is not worth her time.
Anne's first teacher, disliked by his students. He often unfairly picks on Anne and even asks her to sit on the "boys' side" of the classroom. He openly courts Prissy Andrews, another of Anne's schoolmates, and showers her with more attention than he gives to any of his other students, revealing his lack of professionalism.
Anne's classmate, Gilbert's close friend. Charlie had a crush on Anne in their school days. Anne, however, was not interested in him. She fancied neither his "goggled eyes" nor his personality. His dream was to be a minister.
Priscilla Andrews, or Prissy for short, is one of the oldest girls in Avonlea school and one of Anne's schoolmates. She is openly courted by Anne's teacher, Mr. Phillips, and she seems to enjoy the attention.
Mrs. Hammond appears in the first few chapters; she is the woman for whom Anne used to work before she was left in the orphanage after the death of Mr. Hammond. She has three sets of twins and depended on Anne to look after them. She was a grumpy old woman who had no compassion or kindness for Anne, making that part of Anne's childhood miserable. She is not very educated and did not have any patience for Anne's extensive reading and overuse of sophisticated vocabulary.
A school mate of Anne at Redmond College in a later book called Anne of the Island. She is described as very pretty, nice, and smart. Anne is jealous of her because of close friendship and her rumored engagement (or actual engagement, in the case of the movie trilogy) to Gilbert. However (in the novels), this all turns out to be just a big misunderstanding, though Anne remains a little cold towards her even after the misunderstanding is cleared up.
Anne of Green Gables Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Anne of Green Gables is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.