1. Meg: To Thine Own Self Be True
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.
2. Jo: Look Before You Leap
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.