The “Murray Look”: Trauma as Family Legacy in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon Trilogy

Lindsey McMaster

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When taken in by the Murray family after her father’s death, the title heroine of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon discovers that she is heir to an impressive family lineage in which the Murrays take great pride; but the proud ancestors, now at rest in the New Moon cemetery, were no models of peace and harmony when living. Their disputes pitted husband against wife and father against daughter in battles of formative significance to the living characters. When the authoritarian Aunt Elizabeth tries to cut Emily’s hair, Emily’s defiance is heightened, almost supernaturally, by her use of the intimidating “Murray look,” an inheritance from her grandfather (Elizabeth’s father), Archibald Murray. Cowed by Emily’s uncanny channelling of this patriarchal authority, Elizabeth gives up on the haircut, but she takes her revenge later on by locking Emily in the terrifying spare room, home to Archibald’s menacing portrait.

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