I discovered the Canadian series ‘Anne with an E’ thanks to a friend’s recommendation. I did not expect much because it was not the type of show I was used to watching on Netflix at the time, but I still decided to give it a try anyway. I immediately fell in love with the main character Anne, with her red hair, her deep enthusiasm for life and her boundless imagination. The show retraces the story of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, a book written by the Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1908. Anne is an orphan, who experienced a series of dramatic events. She dreams of normal life and being loved by a family. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are two old siblings living together and they decide to adopt an orphan boy in order to help them with their daily chores. However, when Matthew comes to pick up the orphan at the train station, he is stunned to discover not a boy but a talkative red-haired girl. Anne’s new life begins in this way and she is ready to overcome every obstacle to finally find her place.
I must admit I could not prevent myself from crying at the end of each episode, not because it was sad, but more due to the beauty of the story. It is easy to get attached to the characters and the relationships they have with each other are unique and interesting in their evolution. We can see Anne growing through the seasons in Avonlea, the village where her new life begins. I have been particularly touched by her childlike purity, her devotion to others, even after all the cruelty she suffered from humankind. ‘Anne with an E’ is a true lesson of life that reminds us of the value of simple things, such as family, friendship, education, love, culture and nature. The show makes us realize that traumatic events are not a reason to let ourselves abandon. We should all follow Anne’s example and have hope in life, even if the difficulties persist.
Although Anne’s character is first of all a whole morality, it also guides us back through time and makes us learn about the past. The story takes place during the end of the nineteenth century in Canada. At this time, the English crown controlled the territory, discriminating against the autochthones originally living there. This historical background is pictured in the show and Anne acts as a loyal defender of the Mi’kmaq, the indigenous people living near her village. Despite the fact that everyone around her distrusts the autochthones, the young Anne is always determined to offer them her help when they present her with difficulties. At this period of time, indigenous children were sent to residential schools to deny their origins and adapt to the English customs and language. This remains a painful part of history for the autochthones, who experienced traumatic events there. In the series, Anne bravely tries everything she can to help a Mi’kmaq family to free their daughter Ka’kwet from her residential school.
Moreover, the show made me realize how lucky I was as a woman today to have the rights I have, even if there is still a road to travel. Anne’s story takes place at the end of the nineteenth century; women were not at the time free to choose their own lives. They were supposed to get married quickly, losing the opportunity to be properly educated and to become independent. When a new female professor comes to Avonlea, wearing pants, no corset and being passionate about sciences and mechanics, she becomes Anne’s idol, whereas she is scorned by public opinion. The professor gives Anne courage and support to lead her classmates in a fight for change and more rights, not letting herself be discouraged by the old-fashioned traditions supported by society. What is impressive in Anne’s personality is that she is always lucid and she stands for her convictions in any context.
I was charmed by ‘Anne with an E’ when I discovered it on Netflix because I feel that I have learnt a lot by watching it during my first few months in Maastricht. It enabled me to know what was really important to me in my new start as a university student and to enjoy the discoveries I could make on myself. I would advise anyone to watch this show if they want to learn how to live thankfully for the simple things life can offer.