Little Women

Read Complete Research Material


Little Women

Little Women


Although Louisa May Alcott was already a respected author when ”Little Women” was published, it was that novel that brought her an enduring reputation. ”Little Women” was written quickly; the original manuscript was completed in six weeks. Because the public clamored for a sequel revealing how the sisters married, Alcott obliged with ”Little Women”, Part 2(later published as Good Wives) one year later (McFadden, 2005). The two were subsequently published as a single novel.

“Little Women” is based on the fictionalized life of the Alcott sisters at their house in Concord. The plot is episodic, devoting at least one chapter to each sister. The overall theme is the sisters' quest to face the challenges of life and to overcome their personal “burdens” so that they may develop into “little women.” The chief burden of Meg, the eldest, is vanity. Jo, like her mother, has a temper that she must learn to control if she is to become a “little woman.” Beth, thirteen, is already so nearly perfect that her burden is merely to overcome her shyness. Amy is the proverbial spoiled baby in the family, and she must try to overcome her impracticality and thoughtlessness. When the sisters are not sharing intimacies and producing dramatic productions for entertainment, they interact with the next-door neighbors, Mr. Laurence and his orphaned grandson, Laurie. Laurie is wealthy in worldly things, but longs to have family (McFadden, 2005); he often enjoys the March girls' activities vicariously, from a window.

Mrs. March, affectionately called Marmee, is a central character in the novel. The girls know that they can confide in their mother about anything, and at any time. She is strong, wise, and loving, clearly the anchor of the family. Mr. March is a clergyman who has gone to serve in the Civil War and so is absent during the course of the novel. Among, the events of the novel is the tragic death of Beth from a terminal illness. The story ends with the engagement of Meg, the eldest sister, with Jo's decision to become a writer and to leave her tomboyish childhood for a sophisticated relationship, and with Amy's betrothal to Laurie.


The March family lives in a small house next door to the Laurence mansion, where young Theodore Laurence, known as Laurie, and his aged grandfather have only each other for company. Old Mr. Laurence is wealthy, and he indulges every wish of his grandson, but often Laurie is lonely. When the lamps are lit, and the shades are up in the March house, he can see the four March sisters, with their mother in the center, seated around a cheerful fire. He learns to know them by name before he meets them, and, in his imagination, he almost feels himself a member of the family.

The oldest is plump Meg, who has to earn her living as the governess of a group of unruly youngsters in the neighborhood. Next is Jo, tall, awkward, and tomboyish, who likes to write and who spends ...
Related Ads