Both Little women and Anne of Green Gables are set in a time period when each gender has specific roles to fill for their families. It was unheard-of to see someone go against their gender norms. People who did not follow their duties were often known as an embarrassment or a disgrace by the people around them. In Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, the characters do not follow normal gender stereotypes.
Jo and Anne do not follow female stereotypes because of their appearance and their interest in getting a higher education. Laurie is not viewed as typical man because he wants to pursue music. Matthew is not the man of the house, which was rare to see because men were the dominant people in a relationship.
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Finally, the nicknames that Jo and Laurie choose to go by also sets them apart from the other males and females around them. To conclude, these are all examples of the characters in both novels that do not conform to gender norms.Little women shows the lives of the four March sisters; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Their father is away for the majority of the novel because he serving in the Civil War. The girls live with their mother and help her keep the house in check. The girls get to know their neighbor, Theodore Laurence, however, he likes to be called “Laurie”.
The novel shows the up and downs of the characters as they grow older. Jo had trouble acting feminine and was seen more as a tomboy. She was also interested in writing and wanted to become a great writer. Laurie aspired to be a musician, however, his grandfather had a different opinion.
Anne of Green Gables first introduces Matthew and his sister Marilla Cuthbert. They are interested in adopting a child. They requested a boy, however, there was a miscommunication and they ended up with a girl. Her name was Anne Shirley and she was not like any other eleven-year-old her age, she did not have ladylike characteristics, like her friends and classmates.
Growing up she was constantly getting in trouble. As Anne grows older her interest in being successful in school increases. She heads off to teaching school to get a higher education and does extremely well, getting a scholarship to a nearby college.
Jo and Anne do not act like typical females during that time period and compared to the other women around them. Jo found literature very interesting and she wanted to become an author, however, women in the 1800s rarely got a higher education. She started her career by writing stories and sending them to newspaper companies to see if they would take them.”Well, I’ve left two stories with a newspaperman, and he’s to give his answer next week.”(Alcott 165). Jo trying to get her stories published is a big deal.
It is a big step to becoming an author. Publishing these small stories in the newspaper will give her more experience with writing. Girls Jo’s age would be helping their mothers clean, cook and learn the steps to become a mother, instead of writing.To continue, Anne also takes her school work very seriously.
She wanted to attend college to be a well-educated woman and eventually get a stable job. She achieved her goal by graduating at the top of her class.”Three cheers for Miss Shirley, winner of the Avery!” (Montgomery 341).She studied extremely hard and put aside the fact that not very many females would be going to college because it was a very masculine thing to do. To conclude, Anne and Jo are great examples of women who do not follow their specific gender roles.
Both girls getting the education they needed to become what they want was unusual during those time periods. They are proving female stereotypes wrong and they are both doing it successfully. Women in the 1800s and 1900s were forced to look and act a certain way to feel accepted. The women in Anne of Green Gables and Little women do not portray traditional women during that time. In the novel Little Women, Jo was already identified by her family members to not be as girly as her sisters. She made the decision to cut her hair, which added to the idea that she had more masculine qualities than her sisters.”Your hair! Your beautiful hair!” “Oh, Jo, how could you? Your one beauty.” “My dear girl, there was no need of this.
“(Alcott 177). Jo March no longer looked like the classic women with her short hair. Her hair was so much shorter than her sisters, making her look less womanly. For women to be recognized as pretty and attractive they needed to have long hair.
Furthermore, in Anne of Green Gables, Anne March also had her hair cut very close to her head. “Your hair must be cut off; there is no other way. You can’t go out with it looking like that.”(Montgomery 257). Anne knows that cutting her hair will make her look different than her female friends. A change as drastic as hair being cut to the length of what a typical males hair would look like has a huge impact on how Anne is viewed as a female.
She is not seen as elegant or dainty as she might have been with her long hair. Additionally, not only does Jo not look very womanly with her new haircut. She also acts like a tomboy. “I’ll try and be what he loves to call me, “a little woman,” and not be rough and wild; but do my duty here instead of wanting to be somewhere else.”(Alcott 9). Jo says this after getting the letter from her father.
Instead of staying home Jo wants to with go with her father who is fighting in the Civil War. Jo admits to thinking that women have uninteresting lives compared to men. Jo is trying to act like a traditional female to make Mr.March proud, however she is having a difficult time because she does not like the way women are viewed. Likewise, Anne Shirley is also known for acting unladylike.
Her characteristics are similar to the features of males. When she assumes Marilla and Matthew do not want her she says, “I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair.
“(Montgomery 31). In Anne’s situation, a typical girl her age would be quiet and fearful. Since Anne was not given the love and affection needed to grow up to be ladylike she developed an abnormal personality. During that time period, it was inappropriate to talk a lot, which Anne Shirley was guilty of.(Jenny Rothman). To conclude, Anne and Jo are prime examples of characters who negotiate traditional gender stereotypes. Their physical appearance and personalities are what make them different from other women. They have trouble acting polite and courteous which are essential personality traits needed for a woman.
The males in both novels also struggle to fit into society’s standard of an ideal man. In Little Women Laurie was interested in music and wanted to become a musician when he grew up. “No, it was me. He doesn’t like to hear me play.
“(Alcott 59). Laurie’s grandfather would rather have Laurie go into the field of business then become a musician. It was seen to be more manly if a man went of to get a higher education and become a businessman than becoming a musician, however Laurie did not feel the same way. The profession Laurie wanted was frowned upon because majority of the people in the industry were woman.
In Anne of Green Gables, Matthew Cuthbert is not the householder. Marilla is in charge of the house and choices that affect both her and her brother. Matthew steps down when there is an important topic and leaves it to his sister to decide. He wanted to give Marilla his point of view when they were discussing if they should keep Anne, “Well now, she’s a real nice little thing, Marilla. It’s kind of a pity to send her back when she’s so set on staying here.”(Montgomery 34). Men during that time were supposed to be in charge of every decision. When Matthew wanted to give his opinion he was hesitant about it.
That was unusual to see in families because the roles have been switched with Marilla and Matthew. He did not have the personality traits of a man during that time. In conclusion, Matthew Cuthbert and Laurie are excellent examples of characters who do not act like typical males. Laurie enjoys playing the piano and Matthew is uncertain, which are both qualities that are mainly linked to females during those times. The nicknames the characters choose to be called by are important when viewing where they fit in their respective gender roles. Josephine March is her real name, which sounds more feminine, however she wanted people to call her Jo.
” I wish everyone would say Jo instead of Josephine.”(Alcott 30). Jo strongly dislikes her real name because she finds it to be too sentimental.
A female would typically be thrilled with a name that is ladylike, however that was not the case for Jo. Theodore Laurence favours being called Laurie. The nickname choice indicates his feminine nature.
“My first name is theodore, but I don’t like it, for the fellows called me Dora, so I made them say Laurie instead.”(Alcott 30). Both nicknames Dora and Laurie sound womanly. It was his decision to choose to be called Laurie and it shows that he does not mind choosing a nickname that is not particularly for males or females. To conclude, Laurie and Jo are bold for choosing nicknames they feel strongly about. They made sure they were happy even if it was not following the gender norms during that time. The individuals in Anne of Green Gables and Little Women do not conform to the gender stereotypes during that time period. Jo and Anne are interested in getting a job in the future that involves education.
Jo is drawn to literature and Anne goes to teachers school to become a teacher, which were professions males were generally interested in. Laurie’s idea of his future job is different than other males around him. He wanted to become a musician, however females were mainly the musicians during that time period. Matthew did not portray a stereotypical male, his sister was the householder instead of him. Finally, Jo and Laurie’s decision for their nicknames were unlike the people around them. Jo’s nickname sounded more masculine, while Laurie’s sounded more feminine.