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Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary
devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
Although fashion interests Anne because she wants to look
pretty, she wants to be fashionable mainly because she believes
being good would be easier if she were well dressed and beautiful.
For Anne, fashionable dress overlaps with morality. She feels she
would be more grateful if her looks improved and says she cannot
appreciate God because he made her so homely. Anne also views fashion
as a means of fitting into her group of friends. Her increasingly
stylish clothes represent her transformation from humble orphan
to schoolgirl to successful scholar and woman. When Anne arrives
at Green Gables, she wears ugly skimpy clothes from the orphanage, which
represent her loneliness and neglect. At Green Gables, Marilla initially
makes Anne sensible dresses devoid of frills or beauty. A few years
later, Matthew buys Anne a stylish dress with puffed sleeves. Eventually,
even Marilla agrees to allow Anne fashionable clothes. The gradual
acceptance of Anne’s desire for fashionable clothes demonstrates
the gradual shift of Matthew and Marilla’s feelings for Anne. At
first, Marilla feels kindly toward Anne but does not see any reason
to indulge her. Although Matthew would love to spoil Anne, he dares
not speak against Marilla. Eventually, Matthew finds the courage
to defy Marilla and give Anne a lovely dress, and Marilla comes
to love Anne like a daughter and see the appeal of dressing her
in fashionable clothes.
Anne’s powerful imagination reveals itself during her
first ride to Green Gables, when she talks romantically about the
beautiful trees and natural sights of Avonlea. Nature not only pleases
Anne’s eye, it gives her reliable companionship. She has lacked
human friends and finds companions in plants and playmates in brooks.
On her first night in Avonlea, when she fears no one will come for
her, she takes comfort in the idea that she can climb into the arms
of a tree and sleep there. For Anne, Avonlea, with its healthy trees,
represents a pastoral heaven that contrasts with the sickly trees
and coldness of her days at the orphan asylum. At Green Gables,
she shows her respect for nature by giving lakes and lanes flowery,
dramatic names. As she matures, she continues to love nature. During
the stressful exam period at Queen’s Academy, her love of nature relaxes
her and helps her to remember what is truly important in life. At
the end of the novel, she looks to nature as a metaphor for her
future: full of beauty, promise, and mystery.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Anne of Green Gables!