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The protagonist of the novel. Anne is an orphan who is adopted by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert and grows up on their farm, Green Gables. The novel follows Anne as she makes social blunders and tries to quickly absorb the rules of social conduct, religion, and morality that other children have grown up learning. She has difficulty mixing these social customs with her own unique sensibilities. Anne is stubborn, passionate, loyal, and intelligent. She loves beauty and fantasy, and wants to be a good person.
Read an in-depth analysis of Anne Shirley
An unmarried woman who raises Anne. Marilla lives at Green Gables with her unmarried brother, Matthew. Marilla is all angles and straight lines, with a stern face and tightly knotted hair. This physical severity mirrors her moral and emotional severity. Although Marilla does not usually express emotion, underneath she has a wry sense of humor and a loving heart. Although she raises Anne strictly, she loves her adopted daughter, and by the end of the novel she has become softer and more expressive.
Read an in-depth analysis of Marilla Cuthbert
A sixty-year-old bachelor who lives at Green Gables with his sister, Marilla. Matthew is painfully shy and a little eccentric. Although he is terrified of women, he instantly likes Anne and pressures Marilla to adopt her. Anne considers Matthew a kindred spirit and always turns to him when she wants a sympathetic ear.
Read an in-depth analysis of Matthew Cuthbert
Anne’s best friend. Diana is a plump, pretty girl Anne’s age who lives next door to Green Gables at Orchard Slope. Diana and Anne become bosom friends immediately after they meet. Full of romantic notions about love and friendship, they swear devotion to each other forever. Although an agreeable girl, she lacks Anne’s imagination, intelligence, and independence.
A handsome, smart Avonlea boy who becomes Anne’s rival when he makes the mistake of teasing her about her red hair. Anne swears never to speak to Gilbert, and even when he rescues her from the river, she refuses to break the silence between them. Anne’s rivalry with Gilbert keeps her motivated throughout her academic career. By the end of the novel, the rivalry has become affectionate, and Anne and Gilbert have become friends.
The town busybody. Mrs. Rachel likes nothing better than to give her opinion and preach morals. She lives next door to Green Gables with her meek husband, Thomas, and an affectionate, quarrelsome friendship exists between her and Marilla. Mrs. Rachel is outspoken about everything from politics to fashion, and, although childless, she never fails to advise Marilla on how to raise Anne.
Anne’s teacher. Miss Stacy becomes the Avonlea schoolteacher after the unpopular Mr. Phillips departs. Her unorthodox, liberal teaching methods worry the conservative Avonlea trustees and Mrs. Rachel, but all of her students love her. She is a role model and mentor for Anne.
Wife of the new minister, Mr. Allan. Anne admires Mrs. Allan for her youth, beauty, and natural goodness, and frequently turns to her for guidance.
The new minister of Avonlea. Mr. Allan is a good man and a natural leader of the community. He and his wife, Mrs. Allan, earn the universal approval of the town.
Diana’s mother. Mrs. Barry is a severe, unforgiving woman. She expects her children to follow strict and sometimes unreasonable rules and is quick to condemn Anne when Anne makes mistakes.
Diana’s old aunt. Aunt Josephine is very rich and lives in a mansion in the town of Charlotteville. She has come to expect people to cater to her, although when they do it bores her. Anne’s vivacity and unorthodoxy charm Aunt Josephine, and she often invites Anne to visit.
Diana’s little sister. Minnie May is an important character mainly for the role she plays in reviving Anne and Diana’s friendship. When Minnie May falls ill with the croup, Anne saves her life. As a result, Mrs. Barry gains a new respect for Anne and permits Diana to reestablish her friendship with Anne.
One of the youngest of the many Gillis girls. Ruby has learned about growing up from her older sisters, and loves to share her superior knowledge with Anne and their other friends. Ruby inclines toward sentimentality and hysterical fits. She cares more for her good looks and her string of boyfriends than she does for her studies.
A member of the notorious Pye family. Josie lives up to her family’s bad reputation and inspires the dislike of her classmates. Anne tries to cultivate charitable feelings toward Josie but cannot manage to do so.
A plain, sensible girl in Anne’s group of friends. Jane is not particularly ambitious, imaginative, or pretty, but she is steadfast and reliable.
One of the first people to recognize Anne’s charms. Charlie admires Anne from afar from the time they are children.
One of the boys in Anne’s class at the Avonlea school and a classmate of hers at Queen’s Academy.
The schoolmaster at Avonlea during Anne’s first year at Green Gables. Mr. Phillips is an inattentive teacher and a capricious disciplinarian. Mr. Phillips spends class time flirting with his oldest student, Prissy Andrews.
A classmate of Anne’s. Prissy, sixteen years old when Anne begins her studies at Avonlea School, is considered grown up enough to court the teacher, Mr. Phillips.
Anne’s first foster parent. Anne describes Mrs. Thomas as harsh and unkind. After the death of her alcoholic husband, Mrs. Thomas gives Anne up.
Anne’s second foster parent. Mrs. Hammond uses Anne as a maid and makes her care for her three sets of twins.
A woman living in Avonlea. Mrs. Blewett offers to take Anne in as a babysitter when she learns that Marilla intends to get a boy orphan in Anne’s place. Marilla decides to keep Anne because Mrs. Blewett is a nasty, stingy woman, and not fit to care for a child.
The church superintendent. Mr. Bell leads prayer every Sunday. Anne cannot stand his prayers because she finds them unimpassioned and boring.
A minister at Avonlea. Mr. Bentley does little to inspire his congregation and gives dull, lengthy sermons.
Gilbert’s father. Mr. Blythe courted Marilla when they were younger, but ended up marrying someone else. Marilla confides in Anne that she regrets ending her courtship with Mr. Blythe.
A worker at the asylum where Anne lived. Mrs. Spencer brings Anne to Matthew and Marilla instead of the boy orphan they requested.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Anne of Green Gables!