Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ambitions and Anne of Green Gables

I am reading the book "Lucy Maud Montgomery:  The Gift of Wings."  It is an incredibly well-researched and apparently thorough biography of the woman who wrote Anne of Green Gables, 19 other novels, and 500 short stories and poems.  It is long but the quality of the writing and my interest in the subject keep me moving through it.  I am glad that I bought this book.

Montgomery's childhood and adolescence were difficult, sad times for her.  She lost her mother very early, her father lived far away and her maternal grandparents raised her.  She did not get along with her grandfather.

Despite all of the difficulties in Montgomery's life, she was a creative and intelligent girl.  And despite her creativity and intelligence, she faced a battle to get an education to develop her talents.  She was a girl and at that time, girls were actively discouraged from pursuing higher education.  But still she had dreams.  Luckily, she also had her grandmother and she was willing to help out with tuition costs.

While Montgomery had a difficult family situation, I don't know that a girl who had her skills and ambitions would have fared a lot better in many families at that time.  Female teachers were paid less than male teachers although they had the same responsibilities.  Women were supposed to get married and if they didn't, there were limited options for them.  Those were society's rules and women were expected to abide by them.

The thing I don't understand is why, if it was nature's intention that women not pursue their dreams and realize their ambitions, women would have dreams and ambitions.  But they did have them then and we do have them now.  They're part of us.  So, how can it be wrong to make them come true?

A lot more recently than in Lucy Maud Montgomery's lifetime, girls' career aspirations have been handled differently than those of boys.  In Afghanistan, the right of girls to get education was revoked.  It is being returned to them now, hopefully.  Girls and boys have often been treated differently.  And yet, both can dream, both can aspire.  And both can contribute.

I don't think it does women well to discourage them from full participation in the world.  Frustrated, neglected ambition can lead to problems.

In addition to the problems for women themselves, and those are serious in my estimation, by not allowing women full particpation, the world loses out on the gifts that women can share.  If Montgomery had followed society's rules strictly, we would not have Anne of Green Gables.  It is awful to think of how many women never did develop their talents, offer their gifts and make a difference in the world.  I wonder how different the world would look if it had received all of those gifts.

As for the rest of Lucy Maud Montgomery's life, I don't know that it will be a much happier tale.  I hope that she had happy times.  She deserved them.  She brought much joy by sharing her gift and writing Anne of Green Gables and so much more.


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