In Anne of Green Gables, brother and sister, Marilla and Matthew find themselves the unwitting guardians of Anne Shirley who was sent to them by mistake, instead of a boy whom they had hoped for from the orphanage or "asylum" because a boy would be able to help Matthew. Anne is well known for her dramatic outbursts on many occasions and she uses language not ordinarily associated with a young girl of a lowly station. Her imaginative and sophisticated vocabulary is her way of making life interesting although she talks far more than she should and is often misunderstood by the residents of Avonlea. Anne obsesses over her hair color, because much to her dismay, she is a "redhead" and so she can't "wear pink; not even in (the) imagination."
In chapter twenty seven, Anne has finally found a way to change her hair to a beautiful "raven" color. However, the dye which she bought from the peddler (a street trader) turns her hair "GREEN" instead, and as it will not wash out, Anne vows to stay home and keep it secret to hide her shame. Anne quotes from Sir Walter Scott's epic poem Marmion as she laments her actions; worried that the townspeople will think she is "not respectable." When Anne says "what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive," she is suggesting that by dying her hair she thought she could fool (deceive) herself and others, but all that she has done is to make her already despised hair color even worse, something Anne thought impossible. In chapter 7, she claims that red hair makes it "easier to be bad than good" and she feels that no-one understands what a burden she carries being a "redhead." Anne thinks, that this is like the first step of the "web" she is weaving and Josie Pye will relish Anne's unhappiness. Anne cannot really trick anyone in her attempts to be "good-looking when I grow up."