As I talked about in a previous post, I have been going through a bit of a midlife crisis the last six months. If you missed that post, you can read it here.
In October, I noticed that an entrepreneur, author, and counselor, Carol Tuttle made her program “Dressing Your Truth” free for everyone. The course is the idea that a person should dress according to their natural personality or “nature.” It is very interesting. The program suggests clothing, hair, and accessories for Tuttle’s four personality “types.” They are Type 1-animated, upward, Type 2- soft and subtle, Type 3- edgy and driven, Type 4- bold and analytical. You can find the course here.
I took the course two years ago and decided I was a Type 3, very similar to Marilla Cuthbert’s personality in “Anne of Green Gables.” We are first introduced to Marilla from the point of view of Rachel Lynde. Rachel walks down the lone lane to Green Gables. It is hidden by many trees. Rachel says “living in a house away from the road was not living at all.” However, we see that Marilla likes her privacy. Rachel notices how the lawn is clear of any debris and notes how Marilla spends hours raking the yard.
When Rachel meets Marilla. Montgomery describes her as “tall, and thin with angles and not curves. She wore her hair in a hard knot at the back of her head with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it.”
We know right away that Marilla neat, orderly, and likes to have control. As Marilla watch Rachel approach, she thinks “sunshine is too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which is meant to be taken seriously.”
Little does she know that in a few hours her brother will bring home a little redheaded full of sunshine and life.
We know Anne is vivacious and quirky from the moment she greets Matthew at the White Sands train station. She says, “I figured if you didn’t come for me tonight that I would crawl up and sleep in the cherry tree. It would be so romantic to sleep in a cherry tree all silvery in the moonlight, don’t you think?” She talks the whole way to Green Gables and names common place things like an orchard “The White Way of Delight” and a pond “The Lake of Shining Waters.” We know by the time she gets to Green Gables that Matthew is completely won over and there is going to major conflict with Marilla.
I believe that I was more like “Anne” as a child. When I took the “Dressing Your Truth” course again in October, I decided I was a “Type 1.” Animated and spunky, constantly singing, pretending I was a heroine from my favorite story with my friends, or drawing pictures. I was happy “as a bird” my mother would say. In fact, she called me “Kare-Bear” because she thought I was sweet like the Care bears on television. (Wasn’t I a cute girl? I mean look at that yellow, fun, animated shirt!)
As I grew, I became more of a “Marilla.” One night, I saw my mother crying in the kitchen. My brothers and I had scarfed down dinner then scattered, leaving her to clean up the mess. She begged me to stay with her and help dry the dishes. I didn’t want to at first, but I wanted her to be happy so I stayed. After that day, I never wanted to see my mother weeping again on account of me. However, I went above and beyond what was needed and forced myself to grow up too quickly.
I’ve never made it back to that “care free” person I was and I want to be. I tried to be the “perfect daughter” then I tried to be the “perfect student,” and eventually the “perfect wife and mother.” Over time, I have shoved unrealistic expectations for myself like Marilla stuffed the long hairpins into her bun. It is time that I loosen my hair and find that animated, happy girl that I knows lives deep inside me.
I recently bought a songbook to a musical I love. I sat down at the piano and sang my heart out, not caring if I bothered anyone. I was singing for me. For that little girl who used to get up at the crack of dawn with a song in her heart and a bounce in her step. I am excited to explore my “Anne” side more. I know it will help me not only be happy in my daily life, but it will help me create better characters in my own books.
I wrote my first novel last year and the editor and beta readers said the story my characters were not developed well enough. I completely agree. I tried to make my characters too perfect. The reason “Anne of Green Gables” is timeless is because of the weaknesses the characters have. Anne loses her temper and has to apologize to Rachel Lynde, she breaks her slate over Gilbet Blythe’s head, she dyes her red hair because she wants it to be a “beautiful raven black” but it turns green instead. Her troubles and wild ways annoy Marilla and yet she loves Anne all the more for them.
I was trying to make my characters without weaknesses because I thought that would turn readers off, when it is exactly just the opposite. As a reader, I like characters to have weaknesses. It is their weaknesses that make them come alive because everyone has weaknesses and strengths. How we deal with our weaknesses and the circumstances that are thrown at us, is what makes an amazing story.
In conclusion, I believe that I am a great combination of Anne and Marilla.
“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” Anne of Green Gables, p. 161
I might be a lot of different Karens, but that is alright. If I was just one Karen, then life wouldn’t be very interesting. I am nurturing my “Anne” side now, but it is alright to be a Marilla too. What do you think? Which character are you more like?