Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is a work of American literature that has captivated readers for many decades, including me. Louisa May Alcott was first introduced to me when I was a small boy in the early 1950s while playing the card game Authors with my mother. I recall seeing her image on playing cards at the time among other well-known American writers like Mark Twain, Washington Irving, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Little Women, a novel that is largely based on Louisa May Alcott’s childhood and her relationships with her three sisters, has won the hearts of readers of all ages. The decisions taken by the four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—help the reader understand what it was like to be an American girl and young woman in the second half of the 19th century.
Little Women left behind the values of independence, originality, freedom, and community, according to Regina Barreca, a professor of English and feminist philosophy at the University of Connecticut.
Characters and the Setting
Little Women is set during and after the American Civil War in Concord, Massachusetts, most likely at the Alcott home (1861–1865). The four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—Mrs. March (or Marmee), and Laurie (or Teddy), Mr Laurence’s grandson, are significant figures in the narrative.
Meg, the oldest (16 years old) and most attractive sister, works as a governess during the day to support her family at the beginning of the book. Jo is a tomboyish rebel at the age of 15 with a really nasty temper. She works outside the home during the day as a companion for her wealthy Aunt March. Beth is the next oldest at age 13. She has a frail, sickly appearance and a musical gift for the piano. Her schooling is done at home. The youngest, Amy, who is 12 years old, is spoilt, artistic, and very global. She goes to school.
Mrs March, commonly known as Marmee, is a wise and devout mother who wants her daughters to understand the value of hard work, poverty, and community service. The 15-year-old grandson of Mr Laurence, the neighbour next door, is Laurie, also known as Teddy. Living with his grandfather, he is an orphan. Mr John Brooke, a fun-loving man, is this young man’s instructor at home.
Before Christmas in (possibly) 1861, the book starts. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, Mrs March’s four daughters, are likely residing in the New England region of the United States in subpar housing conditions. During the Civil War, the father, Mr March, is a chaplain with the Union Army.
The Marches provide a German immigrant family’s breakfast on Christmas Day after learning that the mother had recently given birth. Meg and Jo go to a Christmas party in a far-off area the days before New Year’s Day. They run into Laurie, the 15-year-old guy who lives next door, there.
Jo forms a friendship with Laurie during the following few days. He initially establishes a close relationship with Jo and quickly becomes like a brother to all of the sisters. The March family and the Laurence family (Laurie and Mr Laurence) become closer the following year. Laurie participates in all of the girls’ daily recreational activities, such as writing groups, picnics, skating, and visits to the movies.
- Women’s freedom and independence
Jo acts independently, as seen by her behaviours. Jo asserts that women do not need to be bound and supported by men or other people. They are free to select their professions and earn a living.
- Adhering to principles
The March sisters were endowed with this virtue by their parents. When analysing Jo’s writing, Professor Bahre emphasises this attribute. Meg and Amy are taught not to put on a show or act differently from who they are.
The writing skills of Jo, Beth’s music, and Amy’s artwork all express this topic. It may also be evident in the theatre sketches that all four sisters have written and produced.
I can’t say enough positive things about Little Women. Every age group should enjoy it, but girls and young ladies in particular. You will fall in love with most of the characters in the novel because of how neatly the plot moves. This book should be read right now since it contains so many excellent moral lessons. These lessons emphasize the value of hard effort, kindness, assisting neighbors, adhering to your morals, and loving your family.
Little Women is a fantastic book because of the moral lessons the author can convey to readers, even though some may find it to be too infantile or feminist for the time it was written.