As a Fritz fan I´v been asked quite a few times about the scene where Fritz is really not a fan of the Weekly Volcano. The way I see the chapter “Friend” seems to be vastly different to most people.
Jo was jaded by the experience she had with the Weekly Volcano. Fritz suspected that Jo was writing and yet Jo herself was extremely ashamed of those stories. She didn´t talk about them to Fritz, she is adamant about writing under a pseudonym. She did not wrote home and told about it to her family (in the pbs series Amy was reading those stories in Nice like???). Yes, she writes those stories so she can take care of Beth which is a noble cause but I think she also wrote them for the thrill of this new era in her life. She is in New York away from home for the first time. That is where all the big publishing houses are and the artists, great writers and the bohemians. Yet that world slaps her into the face straight in the beginning. Publishing world is male dominated. Experience at the Volcano wasn´t that pleasant for Jo. Her stories were cut and even doing the research for the gritty tales gave her anxiety. She enters too deep into a world that she was not prepared for.
What Friedrich is doing he is helping her to try to understand her full potential as a writer. Some people see it consenting the way he disproves sensational writing but he encourages Jo to to take herself seriously as a writer, a genuine writer. It is not only about sensationalism but the superficiality of it. As a person Jo is interested making the world a bit more fair place thanks to her upbringing and seeing unfairness (and at times having herself and her family being target of it) she is also interested from philosophy, human nature and the complexity of it but her writings at that point did not reflect that. It is also a reminder for Jo to stay true to herself and by doing this Fritz helps her to realize what she is truly capable to become as a writer.
We can see this also in the symposium scene where Jo sees the superficiality of the great thinkers she once used to admire and more than anything that scene shows how Jo and Friedrich share the same morals.
Friedrich gives Jo body of Shakespeare´s work and encourages Jo to observe people around her. Jo does this but without Fritz knowing she is observing him (and she is so incredibly lusty for him I can´t take it!). Through Shakespeare´s work Jo begins to appreciate honest characters. She tries different styles of writing and goes from moralistic tales to childrens´s stories but none of those feel right. Then she decides to have a creative break. After Beth´s death Jo picks up the quill again and writes her first successful novel. She has finally found her literal style in realism.
If we stick in the romance even Friedrich´s courting is connected to Jo´s writing. They´v written letters to each others when Jo has left New York. Understandably after Beth´s situation got worse there was less letters travelling between them..but c´mon they spent couple years writing to each others and Friedrich has taken the time to follow Jo´s writing career and reading her poems and stories from different publications and then he finds a poem which is truly a cry for help and after holding ever growing passion inside since the day he met her he travels to Concord and keeps the poem close to his heart.
If anyone says that Fritz doesn´t have a good impact on Jo´s writing they have no idea what they are talking about.
I would even dare to say that Jo has a positive impact on Friedrich´s teaching. She gives him validation that he did receive in Berlin in the intellectual circles but not in the US where he was only treated as a poor scholarly immigrant. In Little Men and in Jo´s Boys Fritz is always supporting Jo´s writing. He is immensely proud of her and feels humble and grateful to have her.
All this being said I hope I don´t spoil anyone too much with this, I´v read Gerwig´s script and think it has the best scene in little women film history of Friedrich giving Jo feedback about her writings. There are many that I like in the previous adaptations but I think it´s really good in the new film. I hope it plays out as well in the film as it did in my head. I have so many feelings about these two.
Check out more of my Little Women Meta:
Little Women 1970 Amy and Laurie Romance
We Germans Believe in Sentiment
Friedrich Bhaer Aesthetics
Equal Marriage Lost in Translation
Little Women 2019 Trailer (Long Rant)
Little Women 1933
Best Jo and Fritz fanfics you´ve ever read
Quest of Friedrich Bhaer and why my inner Jo loves him
He was attractive as a genial fire
Little Men and Tender Parenthood
Little Women symbolism of the umbrella
Thoughts on #TeamLaurie and #TeamBhaer
Pronounced as Nee-na.
Artist, illustrator, writer, watercolorist and a folklorist. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
Love fandoms AOGG and Little Women (prefers books over the films). Louisa May Alcott researcher.
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