Februaruy 2006 Character of the Month: Philippa Gordon

Well, it looks like Phil Gordon won the poll and is now our February Character of the Month. Please share your thoughts on this interesting character. Here are two quotes from Chapters 4 and 5 of Anne of the Island to get us started on our monthlong discussion on this girl.

"She was certainly very pretty, with a vivid, irregular, bewitching type of prettiness. There was a gloss as of brown nuts on her satin-smooth hair and a soft, ripe glow on her round cheeks. Her eyes were big and brown and velvety, under oddly-pointed black brows, and her crooked mouth was rose-red. She wore a smart brown suit, with two very modish little shoes peeping from beneath it; and her hat of dull pink straw, wreathed with golden-brown poppies, had the indefinable, unmistakable air which pertains to the "creation" of an artist in millinery."


"...Philippa was the daughter of a rich and well-known man, and belonged to an old and exclusive "Bluenose" family. This, combined with her beauty and charm -- a charm acknowledged by all who met her -- promptly opened the gates of all cliques, clubs and classes in Redmond to her; and where she went Anne and Priscilla went, too. Phil "adored" Anne and Priscilla, especially Anne. She was a loyal little soul, crystal-free from any form of snobbishness. "Love me, love my friends" seemed to be her unconscious motto. Without effort, she took them with her into her ever widening circle of acquaintanceship, and the two Avonlea girls found their social pathway at Redmond made very easy and pleasant for them, to the envy and wonderment of the other freshettes, who, lacking Philippa's sponsorship, were doomed to remain rather on the fringe of things during their first college year.

To Anne and Priscilla, with their more serious views of life, Phil remained the amusing, lovable baby she had seemed on their first meeting. Yet, as she said herself, she had "heaps" of brains. When or where she found time to study was a mystery, for she seemed always in demand for some kind of "fun," and her home evenings were crowded with callers. She had all the "beaux" that heart could desire, for nine-tenths of the Freshmen and a big fraction of all the other classes were rivals for her smiles. She was naively delighted over this, and gleefully recounted each new conquest to Anne and Priscilla, with comments that might have made the unlucky lover's ears burn fiercely."
7 Responses
  1. Elouise82 Gillis USA 94 Posts


    "I have to say, I "adore" Phil almost as much as she "adored" Anne. I think she's one of the most lovable and interesting characters in the series. She seems so flippant, and yet she has great depth of character, and is capable of true, strong love. I also love her outlook on life, how she is able to go through everything with a laugh and a smile. That's the kind of attitude I try to cultivate, but somehow it doesn't come quite so easily to me! Despite all her frivolities, she makes everyone around her happy, and I think that is a truly great gift.

    Oh, and I also like how pretty she is, and the fact that she recognizes it, but without being vain. She's so matter-of-fact about all her privileges, which really does show a great deal of sense, but she never boasts in them. She just accepts reality as it is, and doesn't let herself get all worked up over it.

    For someone who comes across as being frivolous and slightly shallow, she really does have a lot of depth and is quite complex!"

  2. I think that Philippa is a bit of an enigma. To many people, she would probably seem rude, thoughtless, and somewhat snotty and vain. I imagine that only those that knew her well knew how she really was, that she never took herself too seriously. She's a sensible and devoted friend to Anne, and I think that as adults, she's a much better fit as a friend to Anne than Diana. They have more in common. She's not afraid to tell Anne how things are, and Diana always seemed to be just so.

    I've also always loved that in the end, she goes against all she said about marrying someone with money, falling in love and such, and married Jo so shamelessly out of love and devotion. Prior to Jo, I think that Phil and Anne were a lot more alike than they knew. Both didn't know what it was that they wanted, really. Only Phil admitted that to herself and everyone else. Also, when she found love, she ran with it, where Anne refused to see it as it really is until it was almost too late.

    I wish we could have seen more of Phil in later books because she's a true friend to both Anne and Gilbert. Why, if she had never sent Gilbert that letter suggesting that he "try again" well, things may have turned out much differently. I don't believe that Gilbert would have had the gumption and reason to fight his illness if not. Thankfully, that wasn't the case, and in the mean time Anne got things straight in both her head and her heart.

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  4. Rachel said, "Phil was a character that definitely added seasoning to the book. The story would have gone on without her but then it wouldn't have been so much fun. I have to admit that she annoyed me a bit at first but as I read more I grew to love her. She had a distinct charm and did seem to be wise beyond her years. I was happy to see her give up her snobbish ideal of marrying a rich, handsome man to fall head over heals for a poor, plain minister. She went against what was expected of her bluebloodedness and let her heart choose; which I say is the only way to go.

    My somewhat negative analysis of her is that she was a wonderful character to read but was never very real to me. It just seemed that with her spoiled upbringing and never facing a 'real' problem wouldn't have produced such a wise and sensible person as she was revealed to be."

  5. Blythetwin Says:

    That is interesting to hear your analysis Rachel, as I always liked Phil because I felt she was a more real character then even Anne sometimes. I was always glad that Phil got her gang to remember to "live it up a little" in college. I was also always secretly pleased Phil gave Anne a bit of a tongue lashing when she refused both Gilbert and Roy's proposals. While Anne did never meant to, it always seemed to me she played both men a bit, and I always have felt bad for Roy, who seemed like an ok guy. Phil's attitude was what any friend's would be like - "Are you crazy? You need come out of the clouds and back down to earth, look within yourself, and figure out what you really want!"

  6. anneshirley aka beatlechic said:

    "I always thought Phil was a "breath of fresh air." She was different than most girls Anne knew, and definitely a kindred to Anne.

    Phil's indecisiveness and flirtatious personality is what made her charming to everyone. And that was just the surface! Underneath, she had brains and beauty and common sense which only those who she let see her true self knew she had it. I think based on their day and age, Phil knew it was better for a wealthy female to be dizty and cute (for lack of better words), not smart and ambitious. So, she played the part well. . .that is until she decided she needed to go to college and met Priscilla and Anne and discovered that perhaps it was okay for a girl of her status to show her true quality/self. I think that's why when Jonas came onto the scene Phil was attracted to him. He liked her for her, smart, beautiful, indecisive Philippa Gordon. He didn't want some silly girl to settle down with, which Phil was worried she really was. Alec and Alonzo were muses to her; she knew they loved her for her beauty and silliness, but I think the main reason why she could never decide between the two is b/c neither one showed that they actually liked or enjoyed the smarter side of Phil. She perhaps was trying to use that as a filter, which failed to work with them. Then again, maybe it worked since she did find Jonas.

    Phil, I think, was trying to be an instagator (sp??) between Anne and Gilbert. It was evident back at the start of their Freshmen year when they would get together. Phil always tried to "push the envelope" with Anne about Gilbert, hoping to get her to reveal her true feelings towards him. Anne wouldn't budge (at least according to what she would say), but reading between the lines and observing her reactions, Phil knew the truth Anne hid so well from herself. I think she was a bit forward sometimes with Anne about the issue, but I think it needed to be said or done.

    Phil, overall, was a good friend to Anne. And Gilbert. I always thought Phil secretly rooted for Gilbert, especially when Anne was seeing Roy. (But then again, weren't we all?) I mean, why else would she bring up Christine Stuart or Gil's supposed engagement to Anne? She was aiming for a reaction to spur Anne into action, though it was usually the wrong action. Perhaps that's why in the end she employed Gilbert, knowing he'd get the job done.

    Comparing Phil and Diana is kinda like comparing oranges and apples. I think both were good friends to Anne and both contributed something to their friendship with Anne. I wouldn't necessarily say one's better than the other, just different. Remember, Diana rather felt inferior to Anne once Anne attended Queen's and Redmond to futher her education, and she did not. I think that's partly why Diana didn't breach the "Do you love Gilbert?" subject with Anne. There was too much history between the three of them, whereas w/ Phil, there wasn't. So she wanted to know where things stood. And the rest, they say, is history.

    But that's just my 2 cents thrown into the mix. ;)"

  7. coming in a little late, but i love beatlechic's analysis -- a very plausible reason for Phil's frivolity and why she fell for Jonas. "Phil knew it was better for a wealthy female to be dizty and cute (for lack of better words), not smart and ambitious. So, she played the part well. . ."

    Phil seems to be the kind of friend Anne needs. Diana was the "girl next door", perfect for little orphan Anne while she was growing up to have someone to listen to her, but she never really understood Anne. Phil and Anne are intellectual equals and delight in each other's triumphs, share one another's sense of humour. i love her and only lament that we see little more of her in later books.