Gilbert Blythe - “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery

A Comprehensive Analysis of Literary Protagonists - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Gilbert Blythe - “Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery

Gilbert Blythe in "Anne of Green Gables" by L. M. Montgomery: A Comprehensive Character Analysis

Identify the Character Type

Gilbert Blythe is a dynamic character in L. M. Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables." Initially introduced as a boyhood rival to the protagonist, Anne Shirley, Gilbert undergoes significant development throughout the narrative. He evolves from a competitive and sometimes teasing classmate into a supportive friend, confidant, and, eventually, a romantic interest for Anne. His transformation demonstrates the complexity and depth of his character.

Analyze the Character's Role in the Story

Gilbert Blythe plays a crucial role in the narrative. While not the primary protagonist, he serves as a foil to Anne, highlighting her growth and development. As the story progresses, Gilbert becomes a supportive figure, contributing to Anne's personal and academic achievements. His role evolves beyond a mere romantic interest, emphasizing the importance of friendship and understanding in the overall theme of the novel.

Examine the Character's Background

Gilbert's background is rooted in the small, fictional town of Avonlea. Raised by his parents, John and Mrs. Blythe, he comes from a respectable and traditional family. Unlike Anne, who faced hardships as an orphan, Gilbert's upbringing is more conventional. However, this does not exempt him from challenges, and understanding his background helps contextualize his initial interactions with Anne and the subsequent changes in his character.

Analyze the Character's Personality Traits

In the beginning, Gilbert is portrayed as a confident and academically successful boy with a teasing nature. He takes pride in his accomplishments, and this confidence often leads to clashes with Anne, who is equally proud and sensitive. As the story unfolds, his positive traits, such as kindness, resilience, and humility, come to the forefront. Gilbert's ability to acknowledge mistakes and support Anne during difficult times reveals the depth of his character.

Evaluate the Character's Relationships

Gilbert's relationships undergo a remarkable transformation. Initially characterized by rivalry with Anne, their dynamic shifts as he demonstrates genuine care and support. His friendships with other characters, such as Diana Barry and Charlie Sloane, showcase his amiable nature. The relationships Gilbert forms contribute to the overall sense of community and interconnectedness in Avonlea.

Analyze the Character's Actions

Gilbert's actions play a pivotal role in the narrative. From the early classroom teasing to later acts of kindness and understanding, his journey is marked by personal growth. Gilbert's decision to forfeit the coveted position of schoolteacher to allow Anne to stay in Avonlea and teach highlights his selflessness and prioritization of Anne's well-being over personal ambition.

Identify the Character's Conflicts

Gilbert faces internal and external conflicts that shape his character. Internally, he confronts the expectations set by his family and society. Externally, his interactions with Anne initially create tension, showcasing the challenges of overcoming preconceived notions and establishing genuine connections. These conflicts drive the narrative and contribute to the overall theme of personal and relational growth.

Assess the Character's Growth or Change

Gilbert's growth is evident in his evolving relationships and actions. His willingness to apologize and offer support to Anne demonstrates a shift from rivalry to camaraderie. The turning points in his character development coincide with key moments in Anne's life, emphasizing the interconnectedness of their journeys. Gilbert's transformation aligns with the novel's overarching themes of forgiveness, empathy, and personal development.

Support Your Analysis with Evidence

In Chapter 21, when Anne discovers that she won't be able to attend Queen's Academy due to financial constraints, Gilbert's reaction is telling: "I'm awfully sorry I made fun of your hair that time. I didn't mean to vex you, and I only meant it for a joke." This apology marks a significant turning point in their relationship, showcasing Gilbert's sincerity and the beginning of a genuine connection.

Additionally, when Gilbert forfeits the position of schoolteacher to let Anne stay, his selfless act speaks volumes about his character. Anne herself acknowledges this, stating, "I wouldn't have had the scholarship at all if I hadn't met you. You've done it all, and been so generous and kind besides." These instances provide concrete evidence of Gilbert's growth and changing priorities.

Draw Conclusions about the Character's Significance

Gilbert Blythe's significance extends beyond being a love interest for Anne. His character embodies the novel's themes of forgiveness, personal growth, and the importance of genuine connections. Through his interactions with Anne and other characters, Gilbert contributes to the overall message of community, understanding, and the transformative power of empathy. His evolution from a teasing classmate to a supportive friend enriches the narrative, making him a vital and memorable character in "Anne of Green Gables."

Character Background

Gilbert Blythe's background is rooted in the picturesque town of Avonlea, where he grows up with his parents, John and Mrs. Blythe. Unlike Anne Shirley, who experiences the challenges of being an orphan, Gilbert's upbringing is more conventional. Coming from a respectable family, he is not exempt from facing personal and societal expectations. Understanding his background provides insight into the dynamics that influence his interactions with Anne and his personal growth.

Gilbert's family background, while not extensively explored in the novel, contributes to his initial confidence and competitiveness. The Blythe family is well-regarded in Avonlea, adding a layer of societal expectations that Gilbert must navigate. This aspect becomes particularly relevant when considering his academic achievements and ambitions, which initially shape his interactions with Anne.

Personality Traits

Gilbert Blythe is introduced as a confident and academically successful boy with a teasing nature. His early interactions with Anne highlight his competitive spirit, as seen when he calls her "Carrots" to get her attention. This teasing, while intended as a joke, sparks a rivalry between them, setting the stage for their evolving relationship.

As the story progresses, Gilbert's personality traits undergo significant development. His kindness and resilience become more apparent, especially in moments when Anne faces challenges. Gilbert's humility is showcased when he acknowledges mistakes, such as the incident with the teasing, and strives to make amends. These positive traits contribute to his evolving relationships and play a crucial role in the overall theme of personal growth.

However, Gilbert is not without flaws. His initial teasing of Anne reflects a certain level of insensitivity, and his competitive nature, while tempered over time, is an aspect of his personality that undergoes scrutiny. These flaws add complexity to his character, making him more relatable and realistic.

Motivations and Goals

Gilbert's motivations and goals are initially centered around academic success and societal expectations. As a bright student, he takes pride in his achievements and aims to fulfill the expectations set by his family and community. This drive for success is evident in his pursuit of academic excellence, as well as his desire to become a successful professional.

However, as Gilbert's character evolves, his motivations shift. The incident where he forfeits the position of schoolteacher to let Anne stay in Avonlea showcases a change in his priorities. His willingness to prioritize Anne's well-being over personal ambition reflects a deeper understanding of empathy and selflessness. This transformation in motivations aligns with the novel's broader themes of friendship, forgiveness, and the importance of genuine connections.

Conflict and Challenges

Gilbert faces both internal and external conflicts that contribute to his character development. Internally, he grapples with the expectations set by his family and society. The pressure to excel academically and fulfill traditional roles creates a tension that influences his early interactions with Anne. This internal conflict is essential in understanding the motivations behind Gilbert's initial behavior.

Externally, Gilbert's interactions with Anne present challenges that shape his character. The rivalry sparked by his teasing and Anne's strong-willed nature create conflicts that force both characters to confront their prejudices and preconceived notions. These external conflicts drive the narrative forward and provide opportunities for growth and understanding.

The challenges Gilbert faces are not limited to his interactions with Anne. His decision to forfeit the schoolteacher position introduces a new set of external conflicts, as he must navigate societal expectations and personal aspirations. Overcoming these challenges becomes integral to his character arc and reinforces the novel's exploration of personal growth and transformation.


Gilbert's relationships play a crucial role in shaping his character and contributing to the overall themes of the novel. His initial rivalry with Anne establishes a foundation for growth and understanding. The teasing and competitive banter, while creating tension, also lay the groundwork for the deeper connection that develops between them.

As Gilbert's character evolves, his relationships with other characters become significant. His friendship with Diana Barry showcases his amiable nature and ability to form genuine connections. The camaraderie he shares with Charlie Sloane adds a layer of authenticity to his character, highlighting his social dynamics within the community of Avonlea.

However, it is Gilbert's evolving relationship with Anne that stands out. The transition from rivals to friends, and eventually to romantic interests, underscores the transformative power of genuine connections. Gilbert's unwavering support during Anne's challenges, such as the incident with the scholarship, solidifies the importance of friendship and understanding in the narrative.

Symbolism and Archetypes

While Gilbert Blythe may not embody archetypal roles like a hero or a villain, there is a symbolic significance to his character. Initially introduced as a rival, he represents the challenges and conflicts that Anne must overcome on her journey. The "Carrots" teasing becomes a symbol of their initial discord, and Gilbert's subsequent actions symbolize the potential for growth and reconciliation.

As the story progresses, Gilbert takes on a more supportive role, symbolizing the positive influence of empathy and understanding. His decision to forfeit the schoolteacher position symbolizes a selfless act that transcends societal expectations. In this sense, Gilbert becomes a symbol of personal growth and the breaking of traditional molds.

Character Arc

Gilbert Blythe's character arc is marked by a significant transformation. From the confident and teasing classmate in the beginning, he evolves into a supportive friend and eventual romantic interest for Anne. The key events that contribute to his character arc include the teasing incident, the development of his friendship with Anne, and the selfless act of forfeiting the schoolteacher position.

These events serve as turning points that shape Gilbert's understanding of empathy, friendship, and personal priorities. His character arc aligns with the broader themes of the novel, emphasizing the importance of forgiveness, personal growth, and the transformative power of genuine connections.

Language and Dialogue

Examining Gilbert's language and dialogue provides insights into his personality and emotions. In the early chapters, his teasing of Anne is characterized by playful banter. However, as their relationship evolves, so does the tone of their interactions. Gilbert's language becomes more considerate and supportive, reflecting the changing dynamics between them.

In moments of sincerity, such as the apology for the teasing incident, Gilbert's dialogue becomes a tool for expressing vulnerability and genuine remorse. His words, especially when supporting Anne during challenging times, convey a depth of emotion that goes beyond the surface-level rivalry established early in the narrative.

Cultural and Historical Context

Considering the cultural and historical context of "Anne of Green Gables" adds layers to Gilbert's character. The novel is set in the late 19th century, a time marked by societal expectations and traditional gender roles. Gilbert's initial drive for academic success and societal approval aligns with the values of the era. However, his evolving priorities, especially in prioritizing Anne's dreams over his own, challenge these norms and contribute to the novel's exploration of individual agency and personal fulfillment.

The cultural and historical context also influences the dynamics of relationships in the story. The expectations placed on individuals, particularly in a small town like Avonlea, shape the characters' actions and decisions. Gilbert's internal conflicts and external challenges are, in part, a reflection of the societal norms prevalent during this period.

Critical Perspectives

Exploring critical perspectives or analyses of Gilbert Blythe by scholars and literary critics can enrich our understanding of his character. While individual interpretations may vary, common themes often include the exploration of gender dynamics, the significance of personal growth, and the role of empathy in relationships.

Scholars may examine Gilbert's character in the context of other literary works or within the broader canon of coming-of-age stories. Understanding how different critics interpret his role and significance can provide diverse insights into the complexity of Gilbert's character.

Organize Your Analysis

Organizing the analysis in a logical sequence helps convey the development of Gilbert Blythe's character effectively. The analysis can follow the steps outlined above, progressing from his character type and role in the story to his relationships, conflicts, and eventual growth. This chronological approach aligns with the narrative structure of "Anne of Green Gables" and facilitates a comprehensive understanding of Gilbert's journey.

Provide Evidence

Supporting the analysis with direct quotes and scenes from the text is crucial for substantiating claims about Gilbert's traits, motivations, and actions. For example, quoting the scene where Gilbert forfeits the schoolteacher position or the dialogue apologizing for the teasing incident adds authenticity to the analysis. The evidence serves as a bridge between the textual narrative and the interpretation, reinforcing the analytical framework.


In conclusion, Gilbert Blythe's character in "Anne of Green Gables" undergoes a remarkable transformation that goes beyond the initial rivalry with Anne. From a confident and teasing classmate, he evolves into a supportive friend, highlighting the novel's themes of forgiveness, personal growth, and the importance of genuine connections. By examining his background, personality traits, motivations, conflicts, and relationships, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the depth and significance of Gilbert's character in the broader context of the narrative. Through his character arc, language, and interactions, Gilbert becomes a symbol of empathy and personal development, enriching the overall impact of L. M. Montgomery's classic tale.