Anne with an "e," Carl with a "c"

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Anne with an "e," Carl with a "c"

Post  Lily on Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:25 am

Anne with an “e”, Carl with a “c”

Anne of Green Gables is set in Prince Edward Island, in a fictional town called Avonlea. The low mimetic tragedy chronicles a talkative, red headed orphan by the name of Anne Shirley. The film follows her adventures in Avonlea where she meets her bosom friend, Diana Barry, and develops an unbreakable bond with her adoptive parents, Matthew and Marilla. Her ambitions throughout the four years of her life in Avonlea amaze the people around her, especially her friend and academic rival Gilbert Blythe. This film is an easy pick to analyze Carl Jung’s archetypes.

Symbolic Archetypes

The perceptions we have of Heaven and Hell are relayed in Anne’s life. Anne’s experience before living with Matthew and Marilla in Avonlea represented a Hell. She lived a demanding life for a twelve year old because she was expected to look after the adults’ responsibilities. The combination of Mrs. Hammond’s persistent yelling and the chaos of three sets of twins made Anne’s life a nightmare. She even says herself, “my life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes”. Anne’s first impression of Prince Edward Island can be compared to her ideal heaven. She quickly became enthralled by her surroundings. Places like the Avenue and Barry’s Pond, or as she calls them “The White Way of Delight” and the “Lake of Shining Waters” represented a world she has only experienced in her imagination. Her surroundings on earth, serve as representations she associates with heaven and hell.

Situational Archetypes

Situational archetypes can be seen through Anne’s experiences in Avonlea. Anne is always getting herself into mishaps, the most significant of which resulted in the loss of her “bosom friend”. Anne mistakenly gives Diana current wine instead of raspberry cordial. When Diana comes home intoxicated, her mother is furious. Much to Diana’s dismay, Mrs. Barry forbids her from having any association with Anne. Anne’s sense of innocence is lost and in Mrs. Barry’s perspective, she has descended to a lower state of being. As punishment for her fall, she suffers a consequence. Anne performs the ultimate task and redeems herself when she saves Diana’s younger sister’s life. She regains the trust of Mrs. Barry and restores a friendship. In a sense, this follows the tradition of a hero’s goal to restore fertility.
Anne starts off in Avonlea as a dramatic and imaginative girl who is insecure about her red hair and freckles. Matthew and Marilla are entertained by her innocence and “frivolous ways.” After four years, she grows enormously and becomes a mature woman with many ambitions. She becomes someone that astonishes rather than entertains Matthew and Marilla. By the end of the movie we see that she has entered the adult world. Anne’s growth and maturity represents the initiation, we anticipate the responsibilities and ambitions she will have in the next season of her life.

Character Archetypes

The story focuses on the strength of female characters, perhaps to explore what females were doing in a time when they seemed less significant. Anne Shirley is the obvious hero in the story. Anne’s life can be clearly segmented into stages. Anne was orphaned at the age of three months, which can represent the special circumstance the hero has at birth. Other than the fact that she has been in and out of orphanages since birth, little is known about Anne’s childhood. Anne achieves unlikely ambitions considering the circumstances of her past. She has top marks in school, goes on to a college and acquires a teaching position. For the time period, this was not a common path for women to take; Anne represents the ideal hero for her town but also for women in this time period. Marilla and Matthew became Anne’s surrogate parents. Initially they wanted a boy to help out on the farm, but soon they realized Anne fulfilled an aspect of their lives that was never experienced: that of a love for a daughter.
Another character archetype is explored in Diana Barry. Until she met Diana, Anne’s only friend was her own reflection, who she called Katie. In many movies, the companion or side kick is a familiar archetype (for example: Batman and Robin or Hansel and Gretal). Anne and Diana cherish each other’s friendship a great deal, they are kindred spirits. Ms. Stacey encouraged Anne to take her intelligence further when she offered extra classes for the entrance exams to Queen’s College. She is the apparent mentor in this film as Anne is entirely grateful for her support in her academic pursuits.

Anne of Green Gables is a timeless classic that touches our deepest emotions. The archetypal imagery can be easily related to circumstances in our lives and in this sense it is a low mimetic film. The film displays strong characters that still have the same sense of hope and aspirations. No matter what the time period is, we see that the human nature is still the same and it is deeply inspiring for those of us today with such ambitions.


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symbolic archetypes

Post  catherineleggett on Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:36 am

yay! i was hoping that you or Kara would review this movie so that I could comment on it. I agree with your analysis, especially the heaven versus hell archetype. Also, I think that the symbolic archetype of death and rebirth is present in the movie. Although I might be confusing it with the book so I'm sorry if I do that. But anyway, like the review said Anne matures over the course of the movie. But there were a few defining points, such as the part of the book/ movie I think where she dies her hair green. Before that she was definitely getting more mature, but she was still really immature and naive in some ways. For instance she was part of a story club with her friends that wrote ridiculous melodramatic stories that all the girls thought were wonderfully romantic. But then in the events that follow, Anne starts to realize that being so overly romantic can get her into trouble. First, she tries to dye her hair black, because she has this romantic notion that she needs to have beautiful raven hair. But the dye ends up turning her hair green instead and so she has to cut it really short. I think that cutting her hair off symbolized death in a way because her red hair was one of the things that majorly defined her. It is what started her fight with Gilbert sort of, Anne believes that it has a negative influence on many other aspects of her life as well. When her hair grows back later, she has a much better relationship with it because she has matured. So after she has to cut off her hair, her friends and her decide that it would be fun to re enact a romantic poem about a dead maiden floating down a river. So Anne gets put on a raft and sent down the river. But the raft starts to fail and Anne has to hold on to something in the river and wait to be rescued. In this case, I think that the water represents rebirth, because when Anne almost drowns it really makes her understand the idea that she needs to be careful with the role that romance plays in her life, and keep it more in balance instead of letting romance be what informs all her actions. She starts to become part of the adult world, instead of being a child. After the river incident, Anne really starts growing up quickly, and starts preparing for university.


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AnnE of Green Gables

Post  Liane on Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:31 am

Hey Lily,
I think Mrs.Allan could also fit ino the archetype of a mentor as Anne admires her natural kind personality and her youth and beauty. She often turns to Mrs.Allen for advice and for someone to confide in. Mrs. Allan could also fit into the Platonic Ideal as she is the minister's wife and is a good source of guidance.
Anne can also take on the role of an outcast before she arrives in Avonlea because her childhood consists of being shifted from place to place and never being quite accepted as a member of the family, more as a maid.

Last edited by Liane on Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:55 am; edited 1 time in total


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Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 3:42 pm

Lily - an excellent analysis. I find it interesting how many female heroes fit the male hero archetype - that is, with the mysterious birth or mysterious background and the quest to "restore fertility to the land." Perhaps another symbolic archetype might be Yin and Yang as represented through male and female energy. It would be very interesting to explore the narrative through a more Eastern philsophical perspective. The narrative is structured on the basis that Matthew and Marilla were expecting a boy to help out on the farm. They instead get a girl and their instinct (at least Marilla's) is to send her back. Anne certainly proves her worth, but in many respects comes across as a symbolic hermaphrodite: she has many male qualities and perhaps it is the blend of male and female energies that makes her such an intriguing literary character.

And great contributions from Catherine and Liane too!
Mr. C

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