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Volume 34, Number 2 (2009)

The Sweetness of Saying “mother”? Maternity and Narrativity in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

February 23, 2010


Lucy Maud Montgomery approaches mother figures with great hesitancy and ambivalence in Anne of Green Gables. Psychoanalytically, the novel can be read as a narrative of female identity and self-development in which there lurks the unspeakable anxiety that maternity may equal silence and the death of creativity. Far from producing an idealized reunion between mother and daughter, the text offers an ambivalent representation of the maternal that discourages identification with the mother figure. Maternity in Anne of Green Gables exists in tension with narrativity and presents a conflict of a kind that is pervasive in Victorian women’s writing. In a daughter-directed and daughter-centric narrative, the mother is cast in a role in which she opposes the daughter through consistent attempts to cut off the daughter’s speech.