The CBC television series Anne with an E consistently embraces progressive ideas and human diversity, and those values are nowhere better highlighted than in the seventh episode of the second season, “Memory Has as Many Moods as the Temper.”
The centerpiece of this episode is Anne’s reading of a quotation from Jane Eyre: “Now I remembered that the real world is wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, await those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils.” Anne is at a splendid party in Charlottetown, hosted by Diana’s Aunt Josephine, and is addressing an audience far more diverse than she has before encountered. It includes people from different parts of the world, who express a variety of gender identities, and whose most important commonality is that they’ve chosen to be themselves and to accept others for who they are. At this party, Anne and her gay friend Cole discover an alternative world not ruled by schoolhouse bullies and narrow-minded authority figures, where all kinds of people live all kinds of lives and where there’s a place for anyone willing to step forward and claim it.
Marilla and Matthew also undergo a transformation in this episode as they come to realize how much they have been shaped by the death of their brother Michael and their mother’s reaction to it. Forced to become old before their time, Marilla became hard, Matthew withdrawn, and both missed out on some of the opportunities offered by life. Veteran director Anne Wheeler first contrasts the two stories of transformation—Anne and Cole’s takes place in the present day and in a world of color and light, while Matthew and Marilla’s takes place partially in flashback and in a candle-lit world of browns and grays—then brings them together as Anne, home from the party, recites the Jane Eyre passage to Matthew and Marilla. They may not be familiar with the novel or its author, but they appreciate its sentiment and, like Anne, look forward to a future full of possibilities.
Sarah Boslaugh is the movies editor of TheArtsSTL, a popular culture publication based in St. Louis, Missouri (US). She’s also an experienced statistical analyst and computer programmer, author of six books (including O’Reilly’s Statistics in a Nutshell), and editor of two encyclopedias.