Learning to Forgive: L.M. Montgomery’s Emily



REINHOLD NIEBUHR, an American theologian, once said, “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” I have to agree.

On the surface, L. M. Montgomery’s Emily trilogy is about a gifted girl who grows into a woman and, through heartache and hard work, achieves her dreams and lives happily ever after. But scratch the surface of the story a bit and you find that Emily’s life and those around her are really a testament to the power of forgiveness.

In the story, the greatest examples of forgiveness come from Mrs. Kent and Emily. From the first moment Mrs. Kent is introduced, she’s a suspicious, hateful woman. She wants her son, Teddy, to stay hers and hates anything that might take his love away from her. She kills his pets, burns his art, and dislikes his friends, especially Emily. As Emily develops into a young woman, Mrs. Kent’s dislike grows into a deep hatred.

Not until it’s obvious that Emily will not take Teddy away from her does Mrs. Kent try to befriend her. They have an uneasy friendship until the day Emily finds an envelope addressed to Mrs. Kent from her late husband. In the letter he forgives her for an awful thing she’d done, and tells her that he loves her.

All those years, Mrs. Kent carried the guilt and anger, but the forgiveness of her husband, though dead, changed her completely. For the rest of the last book, she is a different person, a happier one because she knows her husband died still loving her.

Emily herself has a lot to forgive in the books, from family members who don’t understand her proud yet sensitive nature, to a sadistic teacher and back-stabbing school-mates. Her biggest trials come, though, through her greatest loves. Through all three books, Emily loves Teddy, and in the first two she’s sure he loves her back. In the last book, Emily’s Quest, she’s faced with the reality that Teddy loves someone else and discovers that Mrs. Kent is partially to blame for this heartache. But through her devastation, she forgives Mrs. Kent, and in the end her forgiveness enables Teddy to keep loving his mother.

Emily also has to forgive a dear friend for a lie he told, a lie that almost killed her passion for writing. Because of this lie, Emily put down her pen and didn’t write for years. When she learned of this lie, she was able to forgive her friend as well as thank him for what she learned during the time she had stopped writing.

Naturally, all this forgiveness makes me thing of Christ and the verse that tells us, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He loves us ages before we even thought of asking forgiveness for our sins. While I don’t see Emily as a Christ figure, I do see Christ in her life. How else could she have forgiven two such major things unless she had His strength? And though she forgives others, her life doesn’t end happily ever immediately; she still had struggles in her life. Christ never promises a fairy-tale ending. Instead, He asks us to take His yoke because his burden is light. He gives us His strength to live like Him. As we strive to be more like our Savior, our lives will reflect His love and forgiveness. ♥


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Starkley lives in the beautiful state of Connecticut. She has a husband, three daughters and numerous pets. She works part-time while working and going to school. She loves to write, read, and take pictures of life around her. Her blog is updated infrequently, but she hopes to change that after she graduates. She’s a Christian, and hopes that ultimately her life will point to him. She also blogs.


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