Gilbert Blythe would land near the top of any list of charming men of literature. Many a girl has swooned over Gilbert, with his “curly brown hair, roguish hazel eyes, and a mouth twisted into a teasing smile.” What would Anne of Green Gables be without her longtime rival and friend?
We cheer Gilbert as he chases Anne for three books before he finally gets the girl in Anne of the Island. (Finally!) Even if Gilbert is a fiction dreamed-up in Maud Montgomery’s head, it’s still fun to speculate on what his advice may be to other boys who were once in his shoes. Here’s what I think he would say:
1. If you make a terrible first impression, don’t despair. Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length, and said in a piercing whisper: ‘Carrots! Carrots!’….’You mean, hateful boy!’ [Anne] exclaimed passionately. ‘How dare you!’ And then–Thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and cracked it–slate, not head–clear across.
2. Choose the right girl. There’s no use in getting the girl if she’s not the one meant for you! But Gilbert and Anne “were made and meant for each other. It’s a fact.’
3. Be your own man. Gilbert was a clever young fellow, with his own thoughts about things and a determination to get the best out of life and put the best into it.
4. Be her hero. Diana gasped: ‘Oh, Anne–we thought–you were–drowned…oh, Anne, how did you escape?’ ‘I climbed up on one of the piles,’ exclaimed Anne wearily, ‘and Gilbert Blythe came along in Mr. Andrews’s dory and brought me to land.’ ‘Oh, Anne, how splendid of him! Why, it’s so romantic!’
5. Apologize when you do something stupid. ‘Anne,’ [Gilbert] said hurriedly, ‘look here. Can’t we be good friends? I’m awfully sorry I made fun of your hair that time….I think your hair is awfully pretty now–honest I do. Let’s be friends.’
6. Be her friend. ‘We are going to be the best of friends,’ said Gilbert.’We were born to be good friends, Anne. You’ve thwarted destiny long enough.’
7. Be worthy of her love. [Gilbert] had made up his mind that his future must be worthy of its goddess….he meant to keep himself worthy of her friendship and some distant day her love; and he watched over word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes were to pass in judgment on it.
8. Good looks don’t hurt. Anne thought Gilbert was a very handsome lad, even if he didn’t look at all like her ideal man.
9. Follow her lead. Don’t move too fast! Gilbert made this mistake more than once before he wised up and became “exceedingly careful to give none [of the other boys] the advantage over him by any untimely display of his real feelings Anne-ward. To her he had become again the boy-comrade of Avonlea days, and as such could hold his own against [anyone].”
10. Sometimes it’s not you; it’s her. Phil scolds Anne after she refuses Gilbert the first time: “You are an idiot, Anne Shirley! You don’t know love when you see it.’
11. Try, try, try again. ‘I asked you a question over two years ago, Anne. If I ask it again today will you give me a different answer?’
I know you’re dying to see Gilbert in action after hearing his wise words about love, so enjoy this video of the scene where it all began. As Gilbert said, “There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.”
This post is from the series Life Lessons from Green Gables. View the other posts here:
- Lessons in Tact from Rachel Lynde.
- Don’t Be a Drama Queen, and Other Lessons in Friendship from Anne Shirley.
- Learning to Mellow Like Marilla Cuthbert.
- Revisiting Rilla of Ingleside.