Little Women is a literary children’s classic written by American author Louise May Alcott. It follows four sisters born into a poor household as they grow up together and find their places in a gendered nineteenth century society. Their father is away fighting in the Civil War, so they live with only their mother, Marmee. The four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are vastly different in character and follow different paths of action in their lives, though maintain a lovely, heart-warming bond which endures a number of adventures and trials throughout the book, but I won’t those spoil for you!
Instead I’m going to tell you about the sisters themselves! Meg March is the oldest of the March sisters. She is also, arguably the girliest, with a massive love of all things luxurious and expensive. She is also characterised as one who is easily led and gives into what other people ask of her often. However, Meg shows immense character development by the end of the book, actually forfeiting luxury to marry a man who she loves, despite his poverty. Meg represents what is good and right in the society she lives in, proving herself honest to her true needs.
The second sister, Jo March, couldn’t be more different from her older sister! Jo is outspoken, strong willed, and a total tomboy! She absolutely loves writing, and is the most likely to get into an argument out of the sisters. Indeed, Jo shows equal good and bad parts to her character throughout the book, which is unusual for a heroine of a book. Jo is the main character, and a lot of focus is spent on her relationship with her neighbour. As readers at the time questioned, will she or will she not marry him? That’s for you to discover!
The third March girl is Beth. Beth is shy and quiet and almost a pushover. She is based on classic female heroines from Victorian books, however Alcott doesn’t let this kind of heroine prosper in her novel. She challenges the stereotype of weak women as best in her chosen fate for Beth, but as to what that fate is, you’ll have to read to find out!
Lastly, the youngest March sister is Amy. Amy is beautiful and uses this to her advantage often. She is sometimes called manipulative by critics, and indeed plays up to the feminine stereotype to achieve her own ends. Amy acts as a comparison for the readers, as she is the absolute opposite to Jo in character. Indeed the two often argue throughout the book, probably for this reason. Amy’s end is perhaps the most surprising of the four sisters in some respects. Though whether you can predict it or not is for you to explore as you read.
These four sisters and the world they inhabit is a lovely read to escape into, a time just outside our own, in a society different enough from modern day’s to appreciate their struggles. This is quite a difficult read, but definitely worth the struggle! Enjoy!