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Did her domestic duties prevent her from ever having the time to ask herself what she wanted?I’m angry that when I was a young girl, books taught me that to be a good woman is to be a quiet woman, a content woman, a woman subdued.
I read sentences about swan-like necks and slim waists and cheeks flushed pink with fury and something burned inside of me, something I didn’t understand, something I wanted more of.
Beauty seemed to be the key, the key to being seen, to being noticed, to be taken seriously. eyes blazing, hands clenched, passionate indignation exhaling from her like an atmosphere.” When her academic rival, and eventual husband, Gilbert Blythe offers Anne a candy heart with the words “You are sweet” written on it, Anne “[takes] the pink heart gingerly between the tips of her fingers, drop[s] it on the floor, [and grinds] it to powder beneath her heel.” At eleven, I was enchanted with Anne’s intellect, her imagination, her appreciation of beauty, but most of all, I loved her rage.
One summer, when I was eleven, beneath the dark, low-beamed ceilings of an antique shop in Cape Cod, I rifled through stacks of deep emerald, dusty garnet, rich umber, and inky navy with my mother. Before that afternoon, I had not been a collector of anything.
But within the dusty copy of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s I found words about feminine beauty and rage that resonated with me.
Anne is feisty, impetuous, with a wild mane of fiery red hair. As a girl, I would slam doors and throw things hard and spit out curse words and bang bony fists against walls.
She throws fits, breaks things, screams her anger out loud. Rachel Lynde calls her “skinny and homely,” Anne flies into a rage. I would see and feel and breathe red and want everyone else to see and feel and breathe it too. Angry that when I expressed something I thought was important and profound, adults smiled at me like I was a soft kitten.Angry that I was skinny and awkward, angry that I didn’t need my training bra.True and faithful and to be depended on.” Leslie’s marriage is an instant panacea to her wild anger, to “the crash” and “noise” within her. I want something more complex, less confined by the traditional expectations of how a woman’s life I did not know then, nor can I ever really know now, exactly what my mother was was angry about.Marriage enables her to become a “good, sweet” woman. Did she feel betrayed to discover that a beautiful home and a beautiful family do not necessarily equate personal fulfillment?I wonder now at how easily I internalized this message, as a girl in 1994. Leslie has “heavy braids of burnished hair, the hue of ripe wheat …twisted about her head like a coronet; her eyes [a]re blue and star-like, her figure, its plain print gown, [i]s magnificent; and her lips [a]re as crimson as the bunch of blood-red poppies she wore at her belt.” This pop of red is Leslie’s defiance.As if only marriage and a man’s approval would calm her down, quell her anger.Anne’s ending showed me that marriage and domesticity would fill me up, make me whole. Maybe it was her fault that she was sometimes miserable.One of Anne’s biggest triggers is being called ugly, but even then, I knew her “ugly” was not real ugly.She is ugly-duckling ugly: the girl in a rom-com rendered “nerdy” by glasses, the girl who emerges shockingly beautiful once she lets down her hair and takes off those glasses.