Character Studies - Part 2: Character Development

Exterior Versus Interior

Lucy Maude Montgomery has created characters who have very different motivations in behaving as they do. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are often heard saying one thing but meaning another. That is, what we hear as audience members does not always match with what we believe the characters may be thinking at that moment.  On the outside, or exterior for example, Marilla seems rigid and lacking compassion while Matthew is often shy and unable to speak his true feelings. Anne, on the other hand, appears to express her exterior and interior feelings all at once, without worry that telling others her truth is most important.  

Below are a few examples taken from the script of ArtsPower’s musical that demonstrate the differences in what Matthew, Marilla, and Anne say and how they behave.

Exterior - how the character appears on the outside

Interior - how the character really feels on the inside

Character Examples

Marilla Cuthbert

Exterior: “I'm not sufferin' for company.”

Interior: Marilla could really use some company. She may feel lonely.


Exterior: "That girl brings nothin' to us that we could possibly need!"

Interior: Marilla is unsure what they need, but maybe it is worthwhile to keep Anne and see what happens.


Exterior: "Anne Shirley, you will come back here this instant and apologize!"

Interior: Marilla may be thinking that Rachel deserves this response from Anne for being so unkind to her.


Matthew Cuthbert

Exterior: "We could hire young Gilbert Blythe for the planting.'"

Interior: Although he suggests this to Marilla, Matthew does not really mean it. He wants Anne to stay at the farm.


Exterior: (In response to Anne asking Matthew, "Is something the matter?" before they leave the train station to head to the farm) "Oh, no...no...no, ah..."

Interior: Matthew is clearly unsure of what he is going to tell Marilla when he gets home. He is unable to tell Anne this.


Anne Shirley

Exterior: "What you said about me is true, every word. What I said about you is also true; I just shouldn't have said it."

Interior: In her apology to Rachel Lynde, Anne does not hold her feelings inside. Here, her exterior and interior are the same.


Questions About the Characters

  1. How would you feel if you were Anne, about to take this journey with someone you have never met before, to a place you have never been?
  2. The story’s main characters change from the beginning to the end of the show. This change is called the “arc” of the character. Briefly describe how Anne, Matthew, and Marilla change from the beginning of the show to the end.
  3. Anne likes to imagine fantastical situations and turn people in her life into fictional characters. Why do you think she does this? Describe a situation in which you use your imagination to make a real situation more exciting.