Layers of Meaning

Gilbert Blythe Jonathan CrombieWe were driving to an L.M. Montgomery photography exhibit, featuring some of the pictures she had taken throughout her life, when Rachel McMillan read the news. The three of us had just been talking about the next Montgomery conference in 2016,  Montgomery’s male characters, Gilbert Blythe and, yes, the Perfect Man Archetype.

For many young women and men growing up after 1985 Jonathan Crombie had embodied Gilbert Blythe. His death is tragic, dying so young, and for many of us it does feel personal. Like we lost someone we knew, maybe even that we lost something sacred about who we thought Gilbert Blythe was. Perhaps it makes us pause and put our life in perspective. I don’t quite know. Twitter is trending “Gilbert Blythe,” quoting Crombie’s lines, attributing the same emotions the same way people did with Robin Williams. Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 8.28.35 PM

I am sad by this news, his work had a profound effect on my creative and critical writing and helped inspire a lot of hours of expository writing, and reevaluating the origins of my ideals around romance and relationships. Since 2008, I have combed through YouTube videos, read blogs, and articles, fascinated by how actors become representations of the characters we love and why this happened–why it happened to me.

There was something strange and eerie about looking at photographs of Montgomery’s ex-boyfriends with the recent news of one of your first crushes dying lingering in the back of your mind. Considering that I’m writing about her first crushes, there were definitely layers of meaning happening for me, layers I cannot even begin to explain right now as I continue to process.

What comes to me now, in this moment, is my sympathies to his family and those who truly knew him. And my sympathies also go out those of us who believed we knew him.  Perhaps we go downstairs and pop in a DVD.




About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
This entry was posted in Anne of Green Gables, Literary Book Boyfriends. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Layers of Meaning

  1. Sarah Emsley says:

    This is such sad news. My heart goes out to his family and friends and all his fans. Thank you for writing this thoughtful post, Melanie.

  2. Thank you for saying so, Sarah. I felt like I needed to say something, but it was actually hard to figure out exactly what to say. And, yes, Sandra, very sad news.

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