Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gilbert Blythe kicks the ass of Mr. Darcy any day of the week.

One of the nicknames my coworkers have given me (yes, there are several, because when you sit in the same small room with the same two people for 45 hours a week for five years, nicknames tend to accumulate) is Anne of Green Gables. This is not because I bear any physical resemblance to everyone's favorite plucky redheaded orphan, but because I am an unmitigated nerd with a generally sunny disposition and a fondness for ten-dollar SAT words. And, of course, there's also the fact that by the time I was seventeen, I had grown my hair out down to my waist and used to wear it braided in a coronet around my head, which is the closest anyone with fine hair can get to a Gibson Girl.

L. M. Montgomery's books have always been among my absolute favorites. As a teenager, I imagined that I was more like Emily of New Moon, what with her writing, and her drama, and her penchant for brooding introspection; but really that was just because I was a teenager. As an adult, I recognize that I am firmly an Anne. And despite the aw-shucks squareness that helped earn me the nickname--maybe one day I'll tell you about the one and only time I experimented with an herbal substance currently legal in the fine state of California--I take the association as a compliment.

A friend recently mentioned that she'd been re-reading the books, and remarked on what a stellar role model Anne still is for a young girl. I'd never thought of it that way, but it's true. Anne is not only fiercely intelligent, but she's proud of it, and determined to outshine everyone else in every classroom she walks into (most especially Gilbert Blythe, of course)--her ambition is one of her defining characteristics. She's spirited and funny and kind to others, but unafraid to stand up for herself when the occasion demands it.

And speaking of Gilbert, I can't help thinking he is woefully under-credited as one of literature's most swoonable kind-hearted hotties. Everybody loves a good Mr. Darcy, and rightfully so, but I'd rather have Gilbert any day. Darcy, as heir to a massive family fortune, is a gentleman of leisure; Gilbert's a middle-class kid who works his ass off to earn his medical degree through sheer force of brain. Giving up his position teaching at the Avonlea school so that Anne can live at home with Marilla is, in my book, a far greater personal sacrifice than Darcy spending a few weeks and a barely-missed chunk of change to tidy up Elizabeth's Wickham situation. And unlike Darcy, who reluctantly concedes his infatuation with Elizabeth in the face of everything else that's unsuitable about her, Gilbert never wavers in his admiration for Anne. Or in his love, even though she gives him more than enough reasons to throw in the towel. I mean, in terms of declarations of feelings, which would you rather hear? 

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I love and admire you."

Or "there could never be anyone else for me but you. I've loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school."

Yeah. I think I'd take the man who had the patience to put up with years' worth of my childhood bullshit and teenage mixed signals, the kindness to put my needs before his own, the heart to support me when I needed supporting, and the good sense to laugh at me when I deserved to be laughed at. That sounds like a way better deal to me.


  1. I love Anne of Green Gables. She's such an awesome heroine. But I'd never considered Gilbert as a contender in the hero department. You certainly make a good point. I love a scrappy hero that has to work for what he wants.

  2. RIGHT?! I've always loved when he congratulates her for splitting the scholarship win with him... he admires her so much, and he treats her like an equal. Love that.

  3. While Gilbert Blythe character is a bit idealistic, he seems like a realistic person some people can relate. I know there are charmingly hard-working and kind woman and men who are just like him! My boyfriend, for one. I'm sure in real life, the matured Gilbert Blythe would make a good co-worker, colleague, team player, friend, or lover. He's pretty much the boy next door as oppose to the "mysterious" types.

    My boyfriend isn't rich, but he works hard with his skills and is very determined to live through life. I wouldn't trade him any day.

    I liked that the Anne of Green Gables series gives middle-class and working class boys a chance to shine.

  4. Totally agree, Mori Bunny! I love that about Gilbert. Thanks for stopping by!