For many years since its original publishing in 1868, Little Women has captivated many a young girl's interest and admiration. What is Little Women about? This novel, by Louisa May Alcott, presents many virtues which are highly desirable in young women as it follows Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, the March sisters, as they grow into young women.
Guided by their mother, the girls learn, some more easily than others, the many maidenly virtues required to live a good Christian life. Through their highs and lows, the girls learn many lessons along the way.
This story is placed in Louisa May Alcott's own time, the American Civil War period and the years following, in Concord, Massachusetts. It describes the troubles and privations of families living during that war-torn time.
Meg and Jo both remember better times, but the story develops while their father is serving in the war and the family is in relative poverty. Their circumstances teach them that money is not what is required for happiness but that love and encouragement is far more comfortable. Read on to find an answer to your what is Little Women about question.
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What is Little Women about? Well, in Meg's case, it's about learning to be true to yourself.
Meg, as the oldest in the family, is mother hen of her younger sisters. Meg often sighs for the pleasures denied her in her present life and often looks about her at those better off and longs for nice things of her own. When she is tempted to look like the other girls and dress in the fashion of the day, she falls into the trap of vanity and accepts their proposal to dress her up.
Later in the evening she sees someone whom she wishes to please. She suddenly finds that the flattery and immodesty is not a credit to her and is ashamed of herself. Through this experience, Meg realizes that her upbringing has warded her away from all such vanities and is deeply grateful that her parents helped her form a keen conscience which, if she listens to it, will never give her a reason to be embarrassed of herself.
With such longings for riches, Meg also struggles to be content with her present situation. As a young girl, she decides that her "castle in the air" will be filled with luxuries and she is to be mistress without having any work to do but be pleasant. When she grows up, she discovers that true love and a good man for a husband, although he is poor, are far better than all the pleasant things that she proposed as a child.
Although she loves her husband, Meg soon finds that loving him through his faults is not easy. Learning from the patient example of her own mother, she learns to overlook his faults, remembering her own, and to love herself less and those around her more.
What is Little Women about? In Jo's case, it's about learning to control your emotions.
Jo is the tom boy of the family, never thinking of what is considered proper but always doing whatever is comfortable for her. Although a bit wild and endowed with a hot temper, Jo has been given a childhood of virtue.
Her ways are not those of her other sisters, but she shows that she is caring, especially when she sacrifices what she loves most about herself, her luxurious hair, in order to help Marmee travel to tend their wounded father.
Jo's hot temper and quick tongue are her two greatest burdens. Through her mother's kind advice, understanding and guidance, she learns how to check both, but not without a heroic struggle within herself.
Her polar opposite is her younger sister Beth, who is calm and always seems to be thinking of pleasant things to do for other people. Jo loves her younger sister and tries to learn from her many virtues. She learns what it is to be self-sacrificing when Beth grows unwell and calmly and cheerfully accepts death. Jo immediately tries to implement her self-sacrificing nature in her own life. She does not find it easy, but the example of her younger sister encourages her to keep on trying.
What is Little Women about? Through the character of Beth, this novel is about the little kindnesses which may be overlooked at the time but which, in the long run, endear a person to all those around her.
Beth is Marmee's most willing pupil and is also often doing little acts of kindness for her sisters and the neighbors through the works of her never-idle hands. She is the blessing that no one realizes they have until they miss it. Beth is not without her faults, but her sweet and willing nature make them easy to forgive for her sisters. She is everyone's confidant, though shy in public and only leaving her home very occasionally.
Beth is a model of patience and humility. It is she who helps Marmee make sure the house runs smoothly, even doing her sisters' duties when they slack or forget.
Beth's kindness gets her into trouble however when she brings scarlet fever home and is laid low for a time, never to fully recover. Beth learns to carry this new trouble calmly and patiently, speaking of it to no one but keeping on without troubling her family.
Still her same humble self, she tells Jo, "I'm not like the rest of you...I couldn't seem to imagine myself anything but stupid little Beth, trotting about at home, of no use anywhere but there." But "stupid little Beth" is so much more to everyone around her. Eventually the inevitable day comes and all her family feels sorely the loss of their dear Beth.
What is Little Women about? For Amy, it's the story of overcoming vanity and quick judgement.
Amy is the baby and most elegant of the family. As a little girl, she has high hopes of being a great artist and striking a fine match with money enough to lavish on those she loves all her life. A little spoiled, Amy learns to be more caring and to forgive people who have wronged her.
Amy also suffers from vanity. She is very pretty in all aspects (except, in her opinion, her nose) and only seems to ever think of what is proper and how she can make a good impression. She is also rather vain about her works of art. When she travels to Europe, she learns how meagre her work really is in the face of the geniuses. A little subdued, she decides that she can teach drawing in the hope of a student who can live to become a great. "Talent isn't genius. Rome has taken all my vanity away," she says.
As Amy grows up, she is in a fair way of falling into the danger of marrying only for money. But with a reprove, she saves herself from the trap and finds a man whom she really loves and is fortunate to have money as well as love. Together, she and her new husband decide that they will do good for all those around them but gently so as not to raise suspicion and offend their humbler neighbors.
If you came here asking what is Little Women about, I hope this page has satisfied you. Louisa May Alcott, through this novel, shows how well she understands human nature and the workings of a young girl's heart. Little Women is true-to-life, poetically written, and filled with all the emotions expressed in mankind.
The reader feels the affection, disappointment, joy and sadness as the characters feel them. This is a book that should be on every young girl's must-read list. That way, the next time someone asks her, "What is Little Women about?" she can give a good answer too.
Of course, there have been many adaptations of this wonderful work of Louisa May Alcott. One of our favorites is the 1994 version with Christian Bale as Laurie, Susan Sarandon as Marmee, and Kirsten Durst as the younger Amy.
This version is the most vibrant and follows the story very well. As Christmas is so important to the March family in Little Women, we included this movie on our list of favorite Christmas movies.
Also included in the same section is a movie review of the 1949 version, which we also enjoy. It is black and white, though, which can be more difficult to watch.
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