(and names of my favorite professor)
All my new readers welcome and those of you who´v been with me since the beginning of my Jo/Fritz essay journeys welcome back. As a writer and as an illustrator I spend lots of time studying symbols and one of the most striking and powerful symbols in Little Women in the course of Jo and Friedrich, is the umbrella.
The umbrella, is more than just an everyday object here. It symbolises how Jo and Fritz have grown to realise that they love each others. What I love about the writings of Louisa May Alcott was the way she captured love and romance in most nuisance ways within every day life experiences. There are no grand romantic gestures or orchestras playing during the proposals in a rose petal rain but yet these sweet moments that happen in the domestic sphere between two people are very romantic. Friedrich proposes Jo in the rain under the umbrella. His proposal is sincere and earnest.
“Jo, I haf nothing but much love to gif you; I came to see if you could care for it, and I waited to be sure that I was something more than a friend. Am I? Can you make a little place in your heart for old Fritz?”
He gives Jo all the power and the control. He does´t ask her to marry him, he asks if she could love him.
The joy they feel when they realise they both have feelings for each others is like nothing else and it is in complete contradiction to the environment. They are standing in the middle of puddles in pouring rain. He is poor, all his clothes are patched and the trim of Jo´s dress is completely soaked but they don´t pay attention to any of theses things because in that moment they are extremely happy.
There is always controversy around Little Women and the anti-Fritz people say that Louisa was trying to piss off her readers but I dare to disagree. Like any good writer I believe Louisa did care about her characters and she gave all March girls matches that she herself was happy with. Since being a young adult Louisa alone was the only breadwinner of her family for years. The feelings of obligation and duty never fully left her. After reading Louisa May Alcott´s biography I was left with a feeling that there were times when she wished that someone would be there to take care of her since she had spent all of her life taking care of others. Every symbol related to Jo´s professor has aspects of protection.
He keeps the poem close to his heart...
this is me
I was just kidding...this is me really.. I am a puddle of goo with heart full of rainbows
The way the proposal scene is framed it shows how little Jo and Fritz care about their surroundings when they finally get together. Jo kisses him even though it is considered inappropriate, Fritz wants to kneel down but he can´t because of the rain and people passing by probably think they are crazy. The umbrella is Jo and Fritz, and the rain is the rest of the world which does not exist in that moment.
German name "Friedrich" means a peaceful ruler. This refers to his calm nature and that he is more mature. Jo herself is the opposite, she is fiery, outspoken and has a temper. They are complete polars and yet these are qualities that they greatly admire in each others.
Last name Bhaer which has been written wrong for the past 140 years (correct form is Baer, which is a German last name that literally refers to a bear) also symbolizes protection. Bears are connected to courage, fellowship, support and comfort.
I will leave you with this piece of information I found from Ancestry.com
"Baer Family History"
"German (Bär): from Middle High German ber ‘bear’, a nickname for someone thought to resemble the animal in some way, a metonymic occupational name for someone who kept a performing bear, or a habitational name for someone who lived at a house distinguished by the sign of a bear. In some cases, it may derive from a personal name containing this element. Jewish (Ashkenazic): Jewish (Ashkenazic): from the Yiddish male personal name Ber, from Yiddish ber ‘bear’. Dutch: from Middle Dutch baer ‘naked’, ‘bare’. Debrabandere suggests it may have been a nickname for someone who wore ragged clothes"
Must say I especially love the part with ragged clothes, fits very well with Fritz´s character.
Maybe it is the combination of the rain and the love I have for these two characters and their honest dialogue why this still is the most romantic exchange I have ever read. Jo always felt herself as an outside in the Concord society. When she met Friedrich she met another outsider and Friedrich is someone who is very comfortable in his own skin. He tells Jo that it is okay to be unconventional and nourish her creativity. Quoting Louisa May Alcott, she wanted to love freely and deeply and I feel sad she never found her own Fritz. Unlike Laurie who demanded Jo to marry him, Fritz gave Jo a choice.
The umbrella is about that, loving freely and deeply.
What do you guys think about the symbolism of the umbrella? is anyone else as in love with the proposal in the rain scene as I am?
Check out my other Little Women articles:
Little Women 2019 Trailer (Long Rant)
Quest of Friedrich Bhaer, Tender Masculinity In Little Women
Little Women, Equal Marriage lost in translation
Thoughts on TeamLaurie and TeamBhaer
Little Women 1933
Little Women 1970 Amy and Laurie Romance
Little Men and Tender Parenthood
Little Women 1994, 1949, Masterpiece 2017
Artist, illustrator, writer and a folklorist. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
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