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Friday, August 28, 2020

Little Women Book Review

There was a time when I could not imagine myself reading Little Women but lo and behold, it became the book that changed my life forever. Little Women was a story written at a time where society was biased, and patriarchy ruled. Young girls were not permitted to speak up and grown men were expected to handle business. Louisa May Alcott showed that women can do more (and even better). She wrote a book that became a landmark of literary fiction, at the same time, challenged norms and emboldened womanhood.

Little Women Book, Louisa May Alcott
Image: Metea Media

Little Women tells the story of the March Sisters coming terms with adulthood and the joy and pains of growing up. It is mainly set during the American Civil War within a small house at a neighborhood in Massachusetts, New York, and told as a semi-autobiographical account from Josephine “Jo” March – the author’s surrogate.

The book is personal and a treatise of gender roles and expectations from family and society. Meg, being the older daughter was expected to marry a rich man. This does not bode well for Meg who desired only a loving family and a simple life thus chooses to do the latter. Beth, being sickly was not expected to live and hitherto abide by this caveat. Then we have Jo, whose determination and strong attitude deemed her a lost cause by her traditional and no-nonsense aunt. The aunt of whom favored the youngest, Amy. Each girl represented distinct personas: Meg the beauty, Jo the writer, Beth the musician, and Amy the artist.

Little Women Book, Louisa May Alcott
Image: AzQuotes

The mainstream appeal of the novel came from its relatability and interesting yet unconventional publication history. The first of the two volumes of the novel were criticized for lacking appeal to men editors and men readers. This, however, garnered popularity from the young audience and readily became the talk-of-the-town.

The second volume ‘Good Wives’ was later published upon the publisher’s request and became a commercial hit. Although, the protagonist who was portrayed as ambitious and independent in the first volume was domesticized. This aroused discussion and contention from scholars considering Louisa never marry, herself. The choice to marry Josephine to an older poor man was regarded by many as a form of silent protest.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Image: AzQuotes
Despite its focus on Josephine March and her siblings, the novel gave well-rounded character arcs to its supporting character. The parents of March sisters sensationalized the theme of love and hope. Robert, the patriarch desired to go home to his family and Marmee, the matriarch desired to have her family whole again. Despite being prickly, their aunt heightened the importance of tradition and succeeded with Amy. Mr. Laurence desired for his grandson to have a good education. He symbolized the theme of giving.

Theodore “Laurie” Laurence was tenured as a character foil. Originally introduced as an affluent neighbor that abides solely by his grandfather’s wishes, he befriended the March sisters and grew fond of Josephine. His personality around the girls was unbecoming for a boy of his stature. His rebellious spirit was borne from societal pressure and a drive to seek attention after losing his parents at a young age. To no surprise, his fixation on being integrated into the March family was his drive and completed by his union to one of the March siblings.

The influence of Little Women is timeless and deservingly called a book ahead of time. The novel revolutionized character-oriented stories and is a defining piece of feminist literature. Louisa May Alcott along with the likes of the Bronte Sisters and Jane Austen pioneered the gender-subversive genre and opened more opportunities for more powerful women voices in our time. At the advent of theatrical media, the written works from brilliant writers opened adaptations that encapsulated the importance of these features. A recent iteration of Little Women is an Oscar-worthy adaptation that reiterated the message of equality and equity.

Written by Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books

 Greetings fellow book and pop-culture enthusiast! I am your average young adult that loves to read science fiction (SF), general fiction and occasionally, young adult novels and children’s literature. At my spare time you may find me watching Star Trek and Doctor Who or updating my library with the latest shows from streaming giants such as Netflix and Hulu. I devote most of my time in learning, critiquing, and researching. If you want to know more, go check out my reviews!

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