Hello and welcome back to our Little Women den.
Today´s comment shoutout goes to a-skirmish-of-wit-and-lit, who says:
I suppose you could argue that Laurie growing up wealthy is partly what contributed to him not valuing work. He never had to worry about not not having things or not being able to afford what he wanted. In that regard, his exposure to the Marches, and the March sisters in particular, was fortuitous because they helped to enlighten him.
Laurie's definitely not stupid. He's just more or less indifferent to academia. Not everyone is, and I like that Alcott sort of points that out with his character. Meanwhile, Jo lusts after learning. She feels like she can never know enough.
I have spoken about this before, but erasing Laurie´s growth as a character, erases everyone else´s growth as well, and if you do that, there is no story. Putting two female characters against one another is a very common Hollywood trope. Interestingly it is often brunette versus the blonde. Think about Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russel in Gentlemen prefer blondes, Elle Woods and Vivian Kensington in Legally Blonde.
Legally Blonde I must say is refreshing because it subverts that plot, but I think Warner Huntington III summed up the problem when saying that he wanted Jackie and not Marilyn.
People often praise Jo for being a tomboy and how she rejects femininity, but Jo´s idealization of the masculine has very toxic elements. Amy is a character who is more governed by her brain, where as Jo is in fact governed by her emotions, which is considered a feminine trait. In the novel Jo struggles to show her feelings because she considers that weak and "feminine". When father is wounded at the war she shouts her sisters not to cry. Couple years later Laurie says that she doesn't show emotions calls her out about it. Because Jo tries to shut down an important human part of herself, simply because she considers it feminine, is actually something that slowly eats her inside and contributes into her loneliness. This is why the umbrella chapter is so important because Friedrich says to Jo that it is okay to be vulnerable.
Amy does the opposite. She considers rational marriage with Fred Vaughn because it allows her to secure her family´s financial future. When Laurie reminds Amy that she is her mother´s daughter, and she simultaneously inspires Laurie to become a productive member of the society, Amy allows herself to listen to her heart and her own feelings and allowing herself to become more open and it is this inner work that the couples do in Little Women, that makes these relationships work.
Unfortunately the adaptations rarely pay any attention to this. There are people who have not read the novel, have only seen the films, and they don´t understand why the couples end up together. This is because the adaptations, never bother to show what actually happens between these people in the novel.
Another quote from There are people who have not read the novel, have only seen the films, and they don´t understand why the couples end up together. This is because the adaptations, never bother to show what actually happens between these people in the novel.
Maybe Louisa was more of a romantic than people sometimes give her credit for?
After reading about Louisa´s relationships between the real life Friedrich´s and Laurie´s I´d say she definitely was. Louisa was a transcendentalist and one of the methods that the transcendentalists used was so called self-scanning, which basically means trying to understand and analyze the feelings and the experiences that you are going through. Louisa practiced this throughout her life, and she put lots of consideration to the true meaning of love. When Louisa grew most marriages that she saw were unhappy marriages because they were arranged marriages.
Louisa herself answers this question about the equality within marriage rather beautifully and her own wishes from marriage seem to have remained the same throughout her life.
“You have given your idol a heart, but no head. … I would have her humble, though self-reliant, gentle, though strong; man’s companion, not his plaything; able and willing to face storms, as well as sun shines, and share life’s burdens, as they come. Let me advise you to take head as pilot, for you may find, as I have done, that the voyage of life is not quite a pleasant trip” “I would not be above you as I now am, nor yet below, like poor Amelia in the garden. But here where every woman should be, at her husband’s side, walking together through life’s light and shadow".
Here she is actually echoing both Amy and Jo, in the matters of the heart one should combine both head and the feelings. This episode is sponsored by Audible. I am currently reading the biography of Charles Follen. This is a book that Louisa May Alcott read at the age of 12. Get this, it is a story about Eliza who was an American female writer and Charles who was a German immigrant, a philosopher and an abolitionist. Here we have prototypes of Jo and Friedrich. It gets even better. Charles full name was Karl Theodore Christian Friedrich Follen.
His names were Theodore and Friedrich! that is more than just a coincidence. Charles was a good friend of Louisa´s uncle, Samuel May and Louisa actually met him few years before this book was published, and he seemed to have left quite a big impression on Louisa.
I have said this before, but Jo is not only based on Louisa, but also ladies she admired like Eliza Follen, who indeed married a kind hearted German immigrant. I will make an episode about Eliza and Charles in the future. You can get 30 day free trial to Audible and listen and read as many books as your heart desire, with the affiliate link you can find from the description. But now onto Amy.
This is Small Umbrella In The Rain Little Women Podcast: Amy and Jo, two sides of the same coin.
May Alcott Nieriker
Louisa loosely based Amy´s character to her younger sister May. Louisa was more boyish and May was more feminine and like Amy she slept with a cloths peg in her nose when she was 12. Unlike Amy who in the book comes to the conclusion that she does not have the genius May embodied genius. She was a professional artist and her paintings were exhibited in Paris Salon and she even wrote and published a book for young female art students called "Studying art abroad and how to do it cheaply".
When Louisa and May were young there was a great deal of rivalry between them. Both were very impulsive and temperamental and both loved attention. Louisa often called May as the baby of the family, and since she was the youngest and often got her way, which annoyed young Louisa.
Amy in the novel is shorter than Jo. She has a button nose and heart shaped face. May and Louisa looked more similar. They were tall and handsome women, with the exception that May was blonde and a lot more feminine. Louisa´s father Louisa had dark brown hair, gray eyes. She spent a lot of time outside. She was often quite tanned, which was not considered very attractive in the 19th century and she had a high temper. Knowing this, it is easy to understand why she would envy May.
Bronson Alcott, he believed to the idea of an ideal man and that this ideal person would have blonder hair, blue eyes and angelic nature. Bronson was also an abolitionist. He was an active member in the underground railway and the Alcott hid black slaves in their home and he lost his teaching position because he took a black child to his school (which also happens in Little Women). Now you´ll ask, isn't that contradicting? and it absolutely is. The transcendentalists, they had varying opinions on slavery. For example Emerson was often vague with his stance on the topic where as Henry Thoreau was a very active in the abolitionist movement, which you can also see in Little Women when Jo and Friedrich take black children to their school, and Friedrich is largely based on Henry.
Same way as Jo and Amy in the books Louisa and May did became closer when they matured and learned to control their tempers. They even made trips to Europe together.
here is a great deal of Louisa herself in Amy´s character. There were times when Louisa did consider marrying for money instead of love until her mother persuaded her otherwise. In Little Women it is actually Amy who says that "I have learned to sail my own ship and I am not afraid of storms". The trip that Amy takes with aunt March in Europe, is actually based on Louisa´s own experiences in Europe. It is very sad and ironic that there are people who say that Amy stole Jo´s trip, when that trip was actually based on Louisa´s trip.
Jo is not written to look pretty
Louisa had lots of insecurities about her looks and she often compared herself to her sisters, May especially. When Little Women became very popular and fans started to visit Louisa´s home, they were often disappointed when they saw her, because for some reason they always imagined Jo March to be very pretty and young.
Imagine your fans coming to meet you and be disappointed when they see you. Louisa was very tall. She was taller than most men. According to her niece Lulu, Louisa always had sort of masculine air around her. She was not very graceful and that she had a very low voice, like a man. In the end of her life Louisa was very ill, due to mercury poisoning, so it is very likely that the illness also affected to her appearance.
Amy in the novel is written to be someone who is a very visual person. She likes to make things pretty around her. Jo is written to be the opposite. Someone who doesn't care that much about looks or appearance.
Laurie in the book is written to be pretty, but the way he treats Jo is far from pretty. Friedrich is written to be unconventionally attractive, but he treats Jo well. He loves her. Henry, in fact he occasionally criticized very femininity that was fueled by consumerism. Women who spent a lot of time and money to their appearance. It is easy to see why Louisa had deep feelings for him. In Little Women Jo is horrified with the ideas that she should go to a ball or go for social calls because they require her being more feminine. Friedrich is written to be unconventionally attractive because Jo is unconventionally attractive. Being beautified by love is a big part of their romance.
Same way Laurie is written to be conventionally attractive, because that way he appeals to Amy´s sense of beauty.
What often happens in Little Women films is that the filmmakers gush how pretty Laurie is and then they explain Jo rejecting Laurie by saying that Jo must be gay or ace, because it is so difficult for them to understand that Louisa May Alcott or Jo in the novel was not somebody who cared that much about conventionally good looking guys. The entire promotion of 2019 film was based on that. Laurie´s creepy behavior towards Jo is constantly being erased in the adaptations and his storyline with Amy.
In the books the events that lead into burning Jo´s manuscript begin much before any theater tickets. I will read you an article from the blog contagiousgrace. I will put a link to the sources if you want to leave her a comment.
I just saw where someone said that Amy deserved to die in the ice because burning Jo’s manuscript was basically the same as killing Jo.
And I call bull.
First off, the moment we start prizing the created thing over creation (ie. People) whether that’s in our literature or in real life, then I believe we’ve missed the point of art. So jot that down.
Second, Bronson Alcott, Louisa’s father, had this belief that people could be perfected. That you were born a blank slate and with careful correction and guidance, you could stay that way. His first daughter supported that theory. She was compliant and thoughtful and quiet and sweet. Theory proven.
Or so he thought. When Louisa came along, she was wild and rebellious and utterly imperfect from the start, shattering his theory. He adjusted. He came to believe that if you just work hard enough and diligently enough, you can perfect yourself. This was the kind of moral philosophy Louisa grew up with. Personally, I see it as insufficient and utterly imperfect. BUT it has some merits/truths wrapped up in it, the primary one being that 1) people can change for the better.
The start of Little Women–the book–includes Marmee gifting each of her daughters with a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegorical tale about all the obstacles and temptations and struggles that a man passes through in life in the pursuit of God. And Marmee challenges her girls to pick up their burdens and embark on their own journeys. Each of them have different sins and struggles that are their burdens.
For Jo, that is her pride and temper. For Amy, it’s her pride and envy.
In this one situation, Amy burning the manuscript and Jo letting Amy fall through the ice–both of their greatest sins are on full display and both see the very real potential consequences of their sin. Amy doesn’t lose her sister’s love because she falls through the ice and Jo gets a chance to realize that her anger and unwillingness to forgive could have cost, not just her relationship with her sister, but her sister, altogether. They literally and figuratively survive it all. They get grace. And in that grace, they grow.
Consequences of bad choices have to be experienced/seen in some way to generate growth. This is true both in life and in storytelling.
And in this way, Alcott illustrates the two ideas at the core of her thesis: People can grow and be better but they can only become the best versions of themselves. The ideal woman is not just a quiet woman who stays home and cares for her children and sews her family’s clothes. Nor is the ideal woman a writer who supports her family through her talent. Nor is she a great artist. She can be all of those things or none of those things–she must simply be good while being herself. To divorce yourself from yourself is to divorce yourself from who you were made to be. Meg’s personality and dreams are Meg’s personality and dreams for a reason. Jo trying to live Meg’s life wouldn’t have made her a better person. And so on and so on with each sister–just as little Louisa could not be little Anna. All four women grow to become the people they were meant to be, and while doing that they also become better morally.
Jo stubbornness and anger and pride transforms her into a determined, loving, and sacrificial woman who has honed her talents for the good of others as much as, if not more than, herself.
Amy’s envy and pride and obsession with appearance transform into humility and integrity and loving the people around her in a way that makes them more beautiful versions of themselves. This is long-winded and probably making less and less sense so I will end with point #3
3) Don’t come for Amy. She’s my girl.
In the Little Women group that I am part of. There was discussion on the portrayal of this scene in the 2019 film. I will read that to you as well.
Rewatching Little Women . . . and I’m annoyed at Jo March.
Was Amy burning her journal/book/etc a shitty thing to do? Yes, it was, and as a writer myself, I’m not excusing it. If someone destroyed all my writing, I’d be very mad, too. Would I physically attack them over it, though? No. I would not.
Jo is also annoying me in that when they neglect to inform Amy that Beth is sick, Jo says, “Amy has always had a talent for getting out of the hard things in life.” Sorry, what?
- Amy gets attacked by you
- Amy gets hit by her teacher
- Amy has to be without her father
- Amy gets sent away from her family when Beth is first sick
- Amy nearly drowns
- Amy deals with her family neglecting to inform her that her sister is sick
How is that Amy getting out of the hard things in life? Plus, how is it Amy’s fault for not being told that her sister is sick?
Not to mention Amy also had to miss her SISTER’s funeral because no one had informed/prepared her beforehand that Beth was sick. Also, Jo SAW Amy coming to ice skate with her and Laurie and neglected to warn her about the very thing that led her to nearly drown. We saw Laurie warn Jo.
Here is the answer.
In regards to Jo attacking Amy, Jo was notorious for having a terrible temper and the event on the ice rink is what made Jo realize her mistake in overreacting and not controlling herself. The fact that her sister nearly died because of her made Jo want to become a better person and learn how to better communicate with people. This is probably why it felt like Jo was such a terrible person throughout the movie, because the lesson didn’t stick.
The way Jo treated Amy after the ice skating incident was one of my biggest complaints with the movie. No where in the book did Jo continue to harbor harsh feelings towards Amy or ever felt that Amy got out of things. If anything, Jo was more disappointed in herself for not being what Aunt March wanted in a companion, was happy for Amy and Laurie being married because she knew they were perfect for each other. It constantly felt as though Gerwig was pitting Jo and Amy against each other for no other reason than to make you want to like Jo more, but the characterization of Jo in the movie is just God awful.
I am not sure what Gerwig was trying to achieve with adding unnecessary conflict between these two instead of showing their character growth within themselves and in their relationship with each other.
I have heard people saying that Louisa somehow made a 180 degree with Amy´s character when she started to write the Little Women part 2. I disagree with this because in the first part of novel Jo´s flaws are very much out there and her temper is very much out there. In part 2 when sisters actually start to get more close with one-another, that is a natural part of life, and also something that happened in reality. Louisa and May did grew more closer as they mature and they started to understand each other better.
Amy´s behavior as a child was childish because she was a child. Jo´s behavior is also childish because she is constantly making fun of Amy because she is so girly and Amy makes fun of Jo because she is so boyish. Only adaptation which shows arguments from both sides (and not just Amy making fun of Jo) is the modern Little Women adaptation from 2018. All Jo´s moral lesson have to do with her temper but also the fact that Jo can be very judgmental. All Amy´s lessons are about her vanity and popularity. In the beginning Amy´s desire to become a lady is away for her to get out of poverty but as she grows it becomes a tool for self-improvement and thanks to that Amy begins to control her temper beautifully. In an interview Gillian Armstrong who directed the 1994 film said that there should always be two actresses to play Amy. There are over 20 adaptations of Little Women and only two versions where child Amy has been played by a child actress. In most Little Women adaptations 12 year old Amy has been played by an adult woman.
For some time now there has been a theory going on that Amy did have a crush on Laurie already as a child. I tried to read the book this way and I think it does work. It is an interpretation but it does give a deeper context to why did Amy burn Jo´s manuscript because a 12 year old does not necessary know how to handle their feelings in a mature way (especially if they have a crush to their big sister´s best friend). The 1994 film does have a sweet scene with young Amy and Laurie in the carriage together (and a promise of a kiss). I have heard some people complaining that Amy´s and Laurie´s relationship is creepy in the 1994 film. Maybe this comes from the people who remember him transitioning to from a teen to an adult in the film, but Christian Bale was 19 when he played Laurie. 2019 film on the other hand has been criticized that Timothee Chalamet does not go through the transition so he never looks as an adult in the movie, and if I remember right he was 24 during filming. 2018 and 2019 films go with this idea that Amy already had a crush on Laurie as a child. Kristen Dunst has later revealed that when she played Amy in the 1994 film, she had a big crush on Christian Bale. Art imitates life.
Amy has been given a stamp of a social climber but she ain´t one.
Amy grows up in an environment where there isn´t a great deal of options for women. She believes that marrying well she could uplift her family away from poverty even if it would mean that she herself would not be the happiest person. Jo in the first book is a walking contradiction. She wants to be equal to men which is what gender equality and feminism is all about. She is also constantly making fun of her feminine sisters which is inherently anti-feminist. She makes fun of Meg because she wants to fit into the circles of Sally Moffat and other young ladies. She constantly mocks Amy when she uses fancy words and her desire to become a lady.
Girl on Girl Hate
Great deal of hatred that Amy receives has been caused by the fact that Amy likes to be a girl. It is hate towards the feminine. Her movie and tv portrayals are rarely flattering. In the 1933 film and in the 1949 films Amy is first introduces standing in the middle of the class room holding a sign, which says "I should be ashamed of myself".
In the book Amy is introduced together with her sisters before Christmas when father is at the war. Introduction is sweet and does not make a mockery of her or anyone else.
Jo and Amy are perfect mirrors of each others. Many ideas about the masculine that Jo used to cherish and admire were quite harmful. Amy´s early ideas about the feminine were not very realistic either. She connected femininity to very shallow things like being popular and the shape of her nose. Amy´s desire to become a lady was never fully supported in her immediate family and Jo especially was making fun of it. When Beth became ill and Amy went to live with aunt March aunt gave her the structure to become what she wanted. When Amy starts to approach becoming a lady in the terms of self-improvement largely thanks to Esther and aunt March in the process she learns to control her temper and becomes a kinder person.
Because Amy´s femininity has been so heavily demonized we never see her growth process in any adaptations. In the chapter Calls Amy and Jo go for a series of social calls which were part of woman´s role of the time. Jo despises these calls like she despises most of the female labor of the time. Jo tries to avoid speaking with the ladies and more than once she runs out to play with the boys. Amy loves Jo but she is hurt because Jo is making fun of something that is important for her. Jo doesn´t take any of the meetings seriously and her own insecurities also bring out her temper. When they go to visit aunt March and aunt Carol Jo dismisses them and puts herself above them. At the same time aunt Carol is wondering which girl gets to go to Europe and Amy makes a better impression. Calls has never been adapted into movies. Probably because it shows Jo in a bad light. Yet it would be important to adapt it because it does not only show how much Amy has matured but also how the conversations between Jo and Amy are more respectful even if they would disagree.
The 1994 film does not have any scenes from the calls and the viewer doesn´t get any explanation why Jo was not chosen. 1994 film also frames it to happen right after Jo has rejected Laurie which in the book happens much later on. Jo is very mad and jealous to Amy when she hears that she has not been chosen. She is way more mad at herself but she doesn´t want to admit it. This also parallels Jo´s and Laurie´s tempers because neither one of them liked to admit if their own actions hurt other people and rather put the blame on someone else.
In the 2019 film, we once again do not see Jo putting herself above the aunts and losing the trip to Europe. Instead we only see Meryl Streep telling Jo that she is not coming. Film also tries to pin point Jo´s and aunt March´s similarities by portraying aunt March as a happy spinster who only cares about money, when in the novel aunt March is a widow, and sad and unhappy because she had lost her child and her husband who she dearly loved.
In the book Amy feels terrible for getting something that Jo so badly wanted and Jo did not want to show her her own disappointment but to be supportive which is a proof of sisterly love. Amy matured a great deal when she was in Europe. She became more graceful and more serious. Amy also loved aunt March more than anyone else in the family and truly enjoyed the company of her aunt.
There are a lot of things I could say about Jo loosing her trip to Europe and people blaming that on Amy. Once again, that entire narrative is entirely constructed by the film makers, and I think I will make a separate episode where I discuss about it.
Amy´s portrayal was better in Greta Gerwig´s film but even that one has received lots of criticism for portraying young Amy as an immature brat, because an adult woman should not play a 12-year old. In an earlier script of Greta Gerwig´s film after Jo found out about Amy´s and Laurie´s engagement she wanted to punch Amy. This diverges too much from the novel. Even when the writers say they want to do a good with laurie and amy they cant seem to escape their Jo and Laurie obsession.
Book Jo never likes Laurie romantically. This triangle is repeated in all adaptations because we don´t see Laurie´s character arc, we fail to understand why Jo rejects him. In 2017 series Jo became really cross when she found out about Amy´s and Laurie´s engagement. The 2018 film is probably the only one that shows that Laurie is clearly more of a brother to Jo, and yet there is a scene where Jo says to Beth that Amy stole Laurie from her. None of this is in the novel. The whole reason why Jo traveled to New York, was because Laurie was harassing her and she was actually scared to spend time alone with him.
In the novel, even before Jo finds out that Amy and Laurie are engaged she says to Marmee that she thinks Amy and Laurie would be a good couple. Why this has not never been adapted?
Louisa partially based Laurie´s character to her Polish friend Ladislas Wisniewski. They met in Switzerland in 1865 when Louisa was working there and Ladislas was quite flirtatious with Louisa. A year later May Alcott lived in Paris at the same time with Ladislas "Laddie". This has made many Alcott scholars believe that there was some sort of rivalry between the sisters about this young man, but the letters between Louisa and May show that they both became quite tired with him. The call him "boring" and say that he does not take his life or work very seriously.
Julian Hawthorne was the next door neighbour of the Alcotts. It seems that he had a crush on May, but May was 6 years older than Julian. After the publication of Little Women, Julian apparently spread a rumor that he had been the model for Laurie. However this is not somehting that Louisa ever confirmed. Julian was not very interested in school or work and he came from a rather comfortable family setting and May had tried to encourage him to study and make his family proud.
Alf Whitman, was one of the real life Laurie´s and friend of the Alcott sisters. Alf was 5 years younger than Louisa but only 2 years younger than May. Alf and May were very close and when May moved to Europe they continued writing letters to one another, but when Alf was younger and the sisters connected with him through their theater hobby, young Alf was drifting and quite lost with his future plans and both May and Louisa tried to encourage him to study and to be more productive.
In the novel, Laurie is not a price that the two sisters are fighting over. In the novel both Jo and Amy are frustrated that he is wasting his life away. He only goes to school to please his grandfather and he does not want to work. There is literally a chapter in the novel called "Lazy Lawrence". Both Amy and Jo are working class girls and Laurie is rich and in the novel there are scenes where he says that he does not understand why Jo wants to write and why it is so important for her to make her own money.
No matter how hard Jo tries, she can´t get through Laurie, probably because Jo´s relationship to Laurie was very maternal. Jo wanted to go to university, and Laurie took his education for granted. All the models for Friedrich were one way or another connected to education. Louisa herself was an advocate for female education and in her journals from the time when Louisa was in her 20s she wrote about her future wishes of starting a school, possibly running that together with Henry.
Then we have all these real life Laurie´s who I believe were smart young men but for some reason were not interested working or studying. Some of them, like Alf, did decide to be a useful member of the society and made the sisters proud. In the novel Laurie is not stupid. It is mentioned in the novel that he graduates with honors in Latin, and Amy is especially proud of him, but Laurie is lazy.
"Do you think Jo would despise me as you do?"
"Yes, if she saw you now. She hates lazy people. Why don´t you do something splendid, and make her love you+"
"I did my best, but it was no use."
"Graduating well you mean? That was no more than you ought to have done, for your grandfather´s sake. It would have been shameful to fail after spending so much time and money, when everyone knew you could do well".
This scene reveals that Laurie did not go to university for the sake of studying. Book also describes how in the uni Laurie is a party-boy, he flirts and gets into troubles.
In Little Women even though Amy is four years younger than Laurie, she is a lot more mature than he is and it is only thanks to Amy Laurie puts his act together.
The 2019 film includes Laurie saying Amy that she should not marry Fred for the sake of money, but the film does not show Laurie doing any work for Amy. Laurie doesn´t have any kind of growth process. In one of her interviews Greta Gerwig said that Laurie wants Jo to step into the adult world. Laurie in the book is the one who does not want to grow and the only reason he wants to marry Jo is that he wouldn´t need to take any responsibility on his life.
This is what Laurie says in the book, after he has fully internalized everything that Amy has said to him.
"She is right! Talent isn't genius, and you can't make it so. That music has taken the vanity out of my as Rome took it out of her, and I won't be a humbug any longer. Now what shall I do?"
Jo´s Masculine Trajectory
Some readers have struggled reading the part 2 because it portrays Jo in slightly less favorable light than in part 1. Jo has a heavy masculine trajectory. in part 1 she and Laurie are brothers. Jo wishes that she could be soldier and fight in the war like her father. If a readers reads too much to Jo, they see Amy as an annoying little sisters, because that is how Jo sees her.
In part 2 it is now Jo who struggles to fit into the surrounding society. Amy who has more feminine trajectory is better accepted to the Concord´s society. When Jo was still living at home it was okay for her to behave like a boy and family didn´t see too much harm in it but when she grows this old model of masculinity does not suit her and neither she wants to conform to the traditional female role. When Laurie proposed to Jo, he expected her to give up writing and became a socialite, and be something that Jo wasn´t. This is why Friedrich´s character is important because he does not ask or want Jo to conform. Because Jo looks very different and more masculine than other women, she felt she could not find anyone to love. If I quote my podcaster pal Emily, Little Women as a book was also written to offer hope to those who feel that they are never going to find love.
Amy sees the value of the feminine work, good societal status and all the wonderful things that prosper when you know how to make the best of it.
Jo´s feminist awakening
Loosing the trip to Europe became the first step in the terms of Jo´s feminist awakening. Jo realizes that her temper is out of control and the ideas of masculinity that she has been admiring are not working. In the first part of the novel Jo had difficulties to identify with Meg´s pain when Laurie forged letters in the name of his tutor. In the beginning of the second book when Jo becomes the target of Laurie´s unwanted attention it is now that she begins to understand what it feels like when someone does not respect your boundaries. This is repeated in the fourth book Jo´s boys where Jo is in her 50´s and on a full feminist mode. She scolds some of the young male students who treat girls like objects. In Jo´s boys the characters of Nan and Tommy Bangs also echo Jo and Laurie. Nan studies to become a doctor and Tommy is also studying medicine but he isn´t that interest from it. He has anterior motifs. Jo is really annoyed by Tommy´s behavior. So when Tommy unexpectedly falls in love with someone completely different Jo is very pleased and Nan is also relieved.
From Amy Jo learns to value the feminine labor and not underestimate women.
Taking care of Beth brings out her nurturing side and it also makes her to examine her own life in a new light and loosing Beth beautifies the domestic tasks.
From Meg Jo learns that equally respectful relationship can be worth of pursuing.
Jo struggles to fit into the traditional feminine role. Friedrich does not fit into the traditional masculine role. But he doesn´t struggle with it. He is comfortable of being who he is. His intellectualism and philosophical background compliments Jo´s feminist views.
Amy The Feminist
Amy´s desire to improve herself already exist in the first novel. When she doesn´t want to wear the ring aunt March has given to her and when Marmee asks why Amy says it is going to be a reminder for her not to be too selfish.
What is also interesting is that in the first part of Little Women Laurie puts himself above Meg and Jo but he does not put himself above Amy. For example when Amy is writing her will Laurie does not dismiss or scoff her but instead is very supportive and sweet to her.
The problem with Hollywood turning Laurie into the perfect boy next door is that in the minds of many that turns him into an award for sisters to fight over when that is not part of the books narrative. Amy is also a feminist but it is not straight-to-your face feminism to which Jo´s feminism eventually develops. For example Amy plans to open a charity that would help women to break into the male dominated art market. Both Amy and Jo were raised in the same politically aware home and both were encouraged to think outside the box.
Thank you so much for
Take care and make good choices.
sMALL UMBRELLA IN THE RAIN
Small Umbrella In The Rain is an on-going series of video essays, articles and podcast episodes that examines the different intersections in Louisa May Alcott´s Little Women.