Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.
The Life of Anne Shirley
Anne Shirley came storming into the literary world in 1908 when L.M. Montgomery published Anne of Green Gables. This boisterous, artistic girl has entertained readers of all ages ever since.
Many students can identify with Anne and her constant struggles with maintaining good behavior. Here, you will find in-depth discussion questions to use with your students after having read this novel.
- Anne Shirley is one of the most beloved characters in children's literature. Why do you think that is? What are her strengths? What are her flaws? Are her flaws minor or major? Why do you think she is a character people can still identify with today?
- Anne's best friend is Diana. Analyze Diana's character. What similarities exist between the two girls? What differences exist? What sort of influence does Anne have over Diana? Is their friendship a healthy one? Explain.
- Analyze the relationships between Anne and Marilla and between Anne and Matthew. What sorts of relationships are formed at the beginning of the story? How do these relationships change over time?
- What conflicts arise between Anne and Mrs. Rachel Lynde and Mrs. Barry? Describe the situation and what eventually happens. What sort of character traits do we see in these characters? What traits of Anne's do we see with her ability to forgive these women?
- Examine Anne's relationship with Gilbert Blythe. How would you describe Gilbert's character? What in Anne do you think attracted him to her? Why does Anne start to soften towards him? Do you think they are a good match? Explain.
- Anne had a very tragic childhood. How has that affected her? How do you think she is able to remain positive in the face of all that tragedy? What sort of outlook does she have for the future? Does this make Anne someone to look up to?
- Anne is obsessed with melodrama and exaggerates often. How does this affect her relationships with others? Do you think these traits are flaws in her character? Do these characteristics change throughout the story? Explain.
- Imagination is a major theme in this novel. What is the role of imagination in Anne's life? Why is Anne insistent upon renaming everyday things and places? How does her eager imagination affect the other people in Avonlea? How is having a strong imagination both good and bad for Anne?
- Fashion and physical appearance both play a role in the story of Anne Shirley. Why is that? What are Marilla's views on fashion? What does that tell us about her character? How are her views different from Anne's? Is fashion and physical appearance still important today? How so? Is it okay to judge a person on their appearance? Explain.
- Throughout the story, the importance of good behavior takes center stage. Anne finds it very difficult to live up to Marilla's expectations of good behavior. Why is that? Give examples from the story of Anne misbehaving. Do these actions show that Anne has no morals? Is good behavior the same as moral behavior? Explain.
- Discuss the role of women in society as displayed in this novel. The setting is the early 1900s, so what are society's expectations for women in this era? How do the female characters submit to these expectations? Do any of them break those norms? How does all this compare to today's expectations for women?
- Independence versus conformity is another important theme in this novel. In what ways do the characters conform? In what ways do characters show independence? Anne breaks the normal boundaries often. Give some examples. Is this part of the reason why readers enjoy her character so much? Explain.
- Discuss how Anne impacts the people of Prince Edward Island and Avonlea. How does Anne contribute to this community? Does she have any negative impacts? Explain.
- Anne is an orphan who gets adopted by Marilla and Matthew. How does her personal loss influence her relationship with them? Is the loss of Matthew the same as when she lost her parents? Does Anne show she has matured after the death of Matthew? Explain.
- Near the finale, Mrs. Rachel Lynde says, ''There's a good deal of the child about her yet in some ways.'' In response Marilla says, ''There's a good deal more of the woman about her in others.'' What does Marilla mean? This novel is often referred to as a coming-of-age novel. Why is that? Discuss the ways in which Anne has changed. Is she now still a child or more of a woman? Explain.
- Describe the situation with having puffed up sleeves. What does it mean? Why is it important? What is Matthew's take on it? Do you agree with him? Explain.
- Trace the interactions between Anne and Gilbert. Why do they get off on the wrong foot? What happens throughout the story to make Anne never want to forgive him? Is there a turning point in their relationship? Explain.
- Marilla nearly let Mrs. Blewett take Anne. Why? Why did she end up keeping her? What do you think would have happened to Anne if Mrs. Blewett did take her? Would her imagination have been crushed? How would Anne have been different?
- Clothing is an important symbol in the novel. What does it represent? How does Anne's clothing compare to the other people in the community? Does clothing represent the same thing to other characters as it does to Anne? Explain.
- Names are also significant symbols in this story. Give some examples of the names Anne gives to things or places. What could they represent? Anne herself stresses that she wants people to spell her name with an e. Why is that? What could that represent?
- Imagery, which is using very descriptive or figurative language, is abundant in this novel. Find some examples of descriptive passages. Why do you think Montgomery spent so much time with these descriptions? What could be the significance of these detailed examples of imagery?
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