Ready for some spicy Jo and Fritz content. I have been thinking about this a lot. Lot of people go against Friedrich´s character because of the feedback scene and when they read the book they see him as a bully because they have been influenced by the adaptations (1994, 2017 do it horribly) (based to the reactions to the 2019 film viewers either see Fritz as a good or the bad guy).
The part in the book where Jo feels that those sensational stories are really having a bad effect on her mental health has never been adapted.
100 years of Little Women adaptations, it´s not there.
Weekly Volcano is a caricature of a New York magazine called Frank Lesley´s Weekly illustrated Newspaper, which is a newspaper where Louisa May Alcott used to send her sensational stories and Mr Dashwood is a caricature of Mr Leslie himself. Louisa didn´t particularly like Mr Leslie same way as Jo doesn´t particularly care about Mr Dashwood.
When Jo goes to work to the magazine, she is hired because the previous “hack” has left the job for higher paying position. She becomes part of a machine. There is no room for individualism and her stories must follow the magazine´s policy no matter how much they contradict with her own values.
Mr Dashwood asks Jo to cut moralities away from her story. Jo doesn´t like the idea but agrees, Dashwood also asks Jo to make the story more thrilling which once again makes Jo feel very uncomfortable. Finally when Jo sees the finished product she hardly recognizes it to her own.
Imagine being Louisa. Writing thrilling tales was a way for her to vent her hyper-dramatic imagination at first, but same way as Jo, Louisa had her own code of morals. 19th century was both Christian and puritan, Louisa grew up in a home that supported humanitarian values, her mother for example being one of the first American social workers.
Throughout her life Louisa practiced self-reflection which is a part of transcendentalist philosophy. You stop for a moment to look at your actions outside yourself. Sensational story sequence was one of those moments. Should she write more shocking tales about rapists and predators, women and children being hurt? stories that encourage discriminating marginalized groups because those were stories that were selling, and those went against Louisa´s own values.
It is when Friedrich reminds Jo that the writer has either negative or a positive influence over her readership Jo realizes that, any work that she produces that goes against her own values can and will create harm.
The chapter is called “Friend” because Friedrich encourages Jo to take the ownership of her own work. She is no longer going to sacrifice her own integrity for a badly paid job writing content that does not bring her satisfaction.
You can see this reflected in Louisa, because she wanted to cut her ties to these sensational stories entirely.
Friedrich is not the villain, he is Jo´s hero, reminding her about her own capacities. Which is why Jo doesn´t snap at him or defend her sensational writings because that doens´t happen in the novel either.
If you want Jo to shout at someone in the adaptations, that should be the editor.
In our current times there are lots of young creative people who work in low paid jobs sacrificing their artistic skills to companies that have zero respect for them. Louisa knew what important lesson this was, which is why she captured it into Little Women
In one of her diary markings Louisa writes that her friend Emerson had said to her that she should write something that pleases herself. Stories that come from her heart, will be the most successful ones.
As we know, this was the case.
Thank you for reading and as always, if you enjoy my articles feel free to share them in your social media networks.
Pronounced as Nee-na.
Artist, illustrator, writer, watercolorist and a folklorist. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
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