Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables Themes


Anne’s imagination fuels her adventures and mishaps throughout her childhood. This allows her to thrive in many situations, though it also causes her problems. An example of how Anne uses imagination as a positive coping mechanism is that Anne created imaginary friends to talk to when she was growing up. Anne was forced to work rather than attending school or playing with other children, so these imaginary friends gave her a sense of normalcy and friendship.

In contrast, Anne's imagination can cause her to have intense negative emotions like sadness and fear. For example, Anne names a group of trees between Green Gables and her friend Diana Barry's house "the Haunted Wood" (p. 206) and imagines that it contains ghosts, headless men, and skeletons. This causes her to be terrified when Marilla tells her to go to Diana's house at night; after this experience, Anne vows to never again imagine extravagant, scary fantasies.


Education is an integral part of Anne's childhood. Anne does not receive much education until she arrives at Green Gables, but she clearly has natural interests in literature, nature, and philosophy. Once Anne begins attending school, she feels strongly about her teachers. Her first teacher uses harsh discipline on her, so she responds by quitting school and continuing her studies independently. Her next teacher, Miss Stacy, becomes one of her role models and motivates Anne to attend Queen's Academy and become a teacher.

Anne sees education as a way to show other people what she is capable of. She studies extremely hard to try to beat Gilbert Blythe throughout her time at the Avonlea school and Queen's. She comes to see this rivalry as integral to her studiousness, and she thinks that she will miss the motivation when she attends university without him. Anne also uses her educational attainment to make Marilla and Matthew proud of her. As soon as she hears that she won the university scholarship, she says to a friend, "Oh, won't Matthew and Marilla be pleased! I must write the news home right away" (p. 362). Anne feels that the Cuthberts were the ones who enabled her to pursue her studies, so she wants to do as well as possible.


Throughout Anne of Green Gables, Anne is fascinated and awed by nature. A key quote that shows Anne's appreciation of nature is when she tells Marilla on her second night in Green Gables, "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 I'd look up into the sky...then I'd just FEEL a prayer" (p. 66). Through this quote, Anne shows that even though she has not had a religious upbringing, nature makes her feel peaceful and grateful.

Nature also inspires Anne's imagination. Anne enjoys giving beautiful names to elements of nature like "the White Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters" (p. 67). However, nature also causes her trouble when combined with her adventurous tendencies. For example, when acting out a poem with her friends, Anne almost drowns. This experience cautions Anne to respect nature's power.


While Matthew gives Anne a ride to Green Gables for the first time, Anne says she's never had a real home all her life. Anne lived with multiple caregivers from birth through age eleven, and she was often treated more as a servant than as a daughter. When Anne reaches Green Gables, she tells Matthew, "As soon as I saw it I felt it was home" (p. 29). This foreshadows that the Cuthberts will let Anne stay with them even though they were expecting a male orphan to help on their farm. Over the course of her life, Anne will come to feel that Green Gables and Avonlea are truly her home. At the end of the novel, Anne even gives up the educational opportunity she worked so hard to achieve in order to keep her home of Green Gables from being sold.


On Anne's second night at Green Gables, she tells Marilla that she never prays. Marilla takes this to mean that Anne has not been raised to be religious. However, throughout Anne of Green Gables, it is clear that analyzing what religion means to Anne is a key part of understanding her.

Anne most often brings up religion when she is looking at nature or feeling connected to other people. Multiple times, she tells Marilla or thinks to herself that it will be easy to say a prayer of gratitude that night because of something good that happened, often having to do with friendship and belonging. This shows that Anne thinks that God has some hand in the positive things that happen to her. Anne also has a deep desire to be a good person, and she idolizes and works hard to emulate the new minister's wife, Mrs. Allan. In fact, at the end of the novel, Mrs. Allan plays an important role in Anne's decision to stay home with Marilla rather than go to university.

Anne does challenge religion at times, but this only shows how invested she is in understanding it. For example, Anne looks at a picture of "Christ Blessing Little Children" (p. 72) and tells Marilla that she is sure Jesus couldn't have looked as sad as he usually looks in paintings because "children would have been afraid of him" (p. 73). Marilla tells her that she shouldn't talk that way because it is "irreverent" (p. 73), to which Anne replies, "Why, I felt just as reverent as can be" (p. 73). This interaction shows that Anne does not see herself as questioning Jesus or organized religion, but rather truly engaging with it in a way many do not.


On page 138, the narrator states that Anne is "feminine to the core" because she says she would rather be pretty than clever. However, Anne of Green Gables gives a complex picture of femininity in the early 20th century. In some ways, there are strict gender roles with regard to work, education, style of dress, and more. For example, it is assumed that a family would adopt a male orphan to help with farmwork or a female orphan to help with domestic work such as caring for children. In addition, some members of the Avonlea community such as Mrs. Rachel Lynde believe that women should not go to university.

On the other hand, Anne defies stereotypes about femininity. She competes against Gilbert Blythe academically and consistently beats or ties with him, showing that girls are just as intelligent as boys. She is also rambunctious, adventurous, and loves the outdoors, qualities that are shown to complement rather than clash with her interest in beauty, clothing, and romance novels. A final quality of Anne that challenges traditional femininity is that she shows no interest in actual romance with young men, though many show interest in her. However, her stance on the matter of romance changes in sequels to Anne of Green Gables.


Anne of Green Gables provides a cautionary tale of how stubbornness can stand in the way of positive relationships. The first day that Anne meets Gilbert Blythe, when she is 11 and he is 13, he teases her for having red hair. This makes Anne angry and she begins to ignore him, and she continues to ignore him until they are both nearly 20 years old. During this time, Anne actually decides she is not angry anymore—but by then, Gilbert has started to ignore Anne as well, and she is too stubborn to apologize to him. Anne is only able to make up with Gilbert after hearing a story from Marilla about how stubborn she was as a young girl when she was dating Gilbert's father. This foreshadows that when Anne gives up her stubbornness and makes amends with Gilbert, the possibility of romance between them will finally open up—and indeed, in sequels to Anne of Green Gables, the two get married.

Stubbornness is also shown to be a good quality at times. When Marilla is trying to convince Anne to go to university rather than stay home at Green Gables and care for her, Anne responds, "You can't prevent me. I'm...'obstinate as a mule' as Mrs. Lynde once told me" (p. 380). In this case, stubbornness is neither foolish nor hubristic, but rather a form of devotion to something which one sees as a moral obligation.