Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables Quotes and Analysis

“That is one consolation when you are poor—there are so many more things you can imagine about.”

Anne Shirley, p. 293

Here, the story illustrates how poverty has shaped the character of Anne. Anne says to Diana that she always wanted to have beautiful things in her room, which would make it more delightful—but she isn’t sure that she will feel comfortable with it. In her opinion, it is better to leave that space for one's imagination and dreams. Wealthy life spoils people, in her view, leading them to become vain and selfish. Dreams, on the other hand, can motivate one to improve one’s life, strengthening one and leading one to improve oneself in a healthier way. This is why Anne takes herself to be a dreamer.

"I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage."

Anne Shirley, p. 51

This quote is a popular reference to Shakespeare's famous lines from Romeo and Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet." Anne's young and questioning mind does not understand the depth of these words. She insists upon being called by the name Cordelia, as it sounds more fascinating and beautiful to her rather than the name she was christened with, Anne. By means of an exotic name, Anne hopes that she might escape her mundane life, even for a second. To her, a new name is a new identity, and a new identity means that she can begin fresh and forget the past incidents of her life. Discarded by the ones on whom she once relied, she turns to Marilla, who is impatient with the child's whimsies and retorts with a blunt and pragmatic reply: "I guess it doesn’t matter what a person’s name is as long as he behaves himself."

"Gilbert Blythe has hurt my feelings excruciatingly, Diana."

Anne Shirley, p. 143

Gilbert Blythe tries to get Anne's attention; when he doesn't succeed, he pulls her hair and calls her "carrots." Anne unleashes the full force of her temper on him, breaking her slate over his head. This exchange and the resulting punishment from Mr. Phillips sets in motion a series of events that lead to several years of Anne refusing to talk to Gilbert. Anne's humiliation over the name-calling, compounded with the embarrassment of having to stand on the platform and write lines, is too much for her sensitive nature to endure. She tells Diana that she will never forgive Gilbert, and she proceeds to do her best to live out this resolution.

"I'm in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?"

Anne Shirley, p. 35

When Anne first learns that she was not initially wanted at Green Gables, she is overcome with grief and is unable to eat the supper Marilla has prepared. She explains to Marilla that this is because she is in "the depths of despair." Tellingly, Marilla has never been in, nor imagined that she was in, "the depths of despair." Anne's nature is given to dizzying heights of anticipation and correspondingly low spirits when things do not work out. This is part of Anne's personality. Marilla sees it as problematic that Anne sets her heart so much on things, and she cautions her about the many disappointments that await her—yet Anne claims that she enjoys having the fun of looking forward even if it meets in disappointment.

While this quotation is found in a particularly sad and gloomy moment, it also gives insight into Anne's character: she is sensitive to circumstances and acutely aware of her feelings. Even in her misery, she is committed to the poetic and the romantic stance of making a significant and flowery statement. She follows the statement with a clear and practical explanation of how she feels, with which most people can immediately identify.

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Anne Shirley, p. 222

Anne of Green Gables is a story that narrates Anne's many adventures and misadventures. Marilla is often frustrated by the impulsiveness that characterizes most of Anne's escapades; when reflecting with Anne on the cake that Anne accidentally flavored with liniment, she mentions that she never saw Anne's equal in making mistakes.

These "mistakes" are some of Anne's most endearing and entertaining comic moments, not to mention an important aspect of Anne's appeal to the audience. She is a sweet child but not a perfect one, and this optimistic quotation is significant for what it communicates in this respect: Anne knows her own weaknesses, admits her errors freely, and looks forward to the new day regardless of difficulties encountered in the present.

"Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what I'd do. I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods... And then I'd just feel a prayer."

Anne Shirley, p. 66

Here, Anne criticizes some aspects of organized religion. Avonlea is a very religious town, and Anne struggles to see religion in terms of traditional prayers and religious duties. Instead, religion for Anne is about admiring the world God has created and showing love through appreciation of nature. This quote shows how individualistic Anne is, as she disregards conventional religious practice.

"She's real steady and reliable now. I used to be afraid she'd never get over her featherbrained ways, but she has and I wouldn't be afraid to trust her in anything now."

Marilla Cuthbert, p. 312

In this quote, Marilla is speaking about Anne, remarking on how much she has grown and matured. Anne has clearly developed: she has managed to rein in her spirited ways to become a functional and helpful member of society. We see that Anne has truly grown up when she takes on the role of caring for Marilla as she becomes unwell.

"I'd rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself."

Anne Shirley, p. 100

Because of her poor upbringing, one of Anne's main concerns is wanting to look beautiful. She fixates on her freckles and red hair, but she knows she can't change them. However, she feels that something she can change is the way she dresses. Shortly after taking Anne into Green Gables, Marilla makes Anne three dresses. The dresses are simple in design and plain in color. Anne tells Marilla that she wishes at least one of the dresses had puffed sleeves, which were fashionable at the time. Marilla responds that puffed sleeves use up too much fabric and look ridiculous, which causes Anne to retort with this quote. This quote shows that Anne doesn't just want puffed sleeves on her dresses just because she thinks it would make her look beautiful: she also wants to fit in. She always feels different from others due to her hair and personality, and she feels that fashion may be one way in which she could feel a sense of belonging.

"Five minutes ago I was so miserable I was wishing I'd never been born and now I wouldn't change places with an angel."

Anne Shirley, p. 131

This quote exemplifies the magnitude of Anne's mood changes. Anne takes disappointments very hard, often bursting into tears and yelling at whoever is around. On the other hand, she can easily become awestruck and overjoyed when she sees or imagines something beautiful. Anne says this quote when Marilla tells her that she can, in fact, go to the picnic with other little girls, which Anne had been anticipating for many days. Anne uses hyperbole to show Marilla how thankful she is for being allowed to go.

"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."

Anne Shirley, p. 200

At the point in Anne's life when she arrives in Avonlea, she has not yet had many positive relationships in her lifetime. She has been moved from house to house in her childhood and generally treated more as a servant than as a child or friend. In Avonlea, everything changes. She is able to be a child, and her infectious humor and imagination cause her to befriend both children and adults easily. Anne says this quote after befriending Diana's aunt, who is usually a very strict woman. This friendship causes Anne to feel that some deep friendships occur with people who are not obviously similar to you.