Well, well, well! It seems I was not alone in crushing on Disney’s foxy Robin Hood! My brother and I were obsessed with this movie when we were young, but years apart. (Trouble is 10 and a half years younger than me.) My poor parents had to suffer through countless viewings of this movie not once, but twice.
I am continuing this series of fictional crushes, mostly because I am indeed curious to see where crushes intersect and where they don’t. It appears everyone loves a good rogue. Now, do they love a good man?
Gilbert Blythe is an enduring favourite of young girls. I know this for certain because my mother and I both agree that he is The Perfect Fictional Man, and Mum and I, uh, don’t always agree on what makes a man attractive. While I adored my Outlaw of Sherwood Forest, Gilbert was truly my first literary love.
My mother had an omnibus of Anne books which included ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, ANNE OF AVONLEA, and ANNE’S HOUSE OF DREAMS in one volume. (Why those three? I have no idea.) I devoured the first two when I was young and then wandered off when I got to HOUSE OF DREAMS because married people were boring.
I was probably six or seven or so when I first read GREEN GABLES and AVONLEA and from the start I had a total crush on Gilbert. Even at that tender young age I could see that he only called Anne “Carrots” because he wanted her to pay attention to him. WHY WOULDN’T SHE PAY ATTENTION TO HIM? Couldn’t she see that he was smart, cute, AND awful nice?
Of course she came to her senses by the end of GREEN GABLES and she spends most of AVONLEA being good chums with Gilbert. I could see that Gilbert was in love with Anne, but Anne (as we had previously established) is oblivious. BUT! The end of AVONLEA gave me hope that she would finally see the light of how awesome Gilbert is.
Except the next book in the omnibus was HOUSE OF DREAMS, in which Anne and Gilbert are MARRIED.
WHAT. WHAT. How cruel were the publishers in this omnibus to deny me the most “romantic” book of the ANNE series? (Seriously, ANNE OF THE ISLAND is my favourite.) I don’t care about marriage and babies; I wanted to read about HOW Anne finally came to her senses! (In all honesty, I detest books with marriage and babies.)
ANNE OF THE ISLAND was exactly as romantic as my nine-year-old self had dreamed and to this day it’s still the only book relationship to make me feel all fluttery. That I had a crush on Gilbert was a given, but now that I’m a little older, I wonder how much of my crush on Gilbert was because I could see how right he was for Anne? How good he was to her?
Things I appreciated about Gilbert:
- He has a sense of humor. I love that one of his gifts to Anne was a pink heart necklace on a gold chain, calling back to the time he tried to make up for calling her “Carrots” by giving her a candied heart. Also, Anne discovers after being courted by Roy Gardner that “making her laugh” trumps “making her swoon” every time, especially since “making her swoon” wasn’t really working.
- He’s smart. Well, duh. Some of the enjoyment I got out of the Anne/Gilbert dynamic was their acknowledged rivalry on the academic battlefield.
- He’s a good friend. This is quite important. Passion can fade, but friendship is forever.
- He calls Anne out on her bullshit. Gilbert has his own boundaries, which I appreciated. When Anne was being an idiot, he told her so, as any good friend (and lover) ought to do. He wasn’t mean or cruel; he was honest.
Looking over that list, I realize that the qualities Gilbert possesses are what I look for in both real life and in fictional characters. A sense of humor, intelligence, loyalty, and honesty. Even if my mother and I can’t agree on what makes a man “attractive”, we do agree on those core values, hence why we refer to Gilbert as The Perfect Man.
Other Perfect Men in fiction have included Peeta Mellark from THE HUNGER GAMES, Samwise Gamgee from THE LORD OF THE RINGS (you betcha Sam was my favourite character and the one I wanted to marry), and Simon from Cassandra Clare’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series. Steady, steadfast characters have always been tops, but Gilbert Blythe was the first one I ever fell in love.
What about the rest of you? Do you like what Mum and I dub “Perfect Men”? Or do you think they are bland and boring?