Emily: We also talked a little bit about how Jo and professor establish sort of this common language between them in the way they talk with each other because of the use of "thou" and "you" and "us". I guess for me it is like what we´v discussed is that he doesn´t want to hold her in distance. It is almost like a pet-name for them to have a common language with each other but also establishing that they are the ones closest to each other. Which is great. I don´t think it is that extreme in German, in the actual language of German, among friends you say "du" and then for like, let´s say professional relations, your boss or with someone you don´t really know or don´t really see, so then when you establish sort of rapport with them, you´ll say "du". It is not quite as extreme as Fritz takes it in Little Women. Louisa was not a native German speaker. She was kind of doing her own thing with language which, you know, I don´t have a problem with.
Niina: In German and in Russian I think, you know they use a lot of formal language which is not that common in English, or here in Finland. But then in the 19th century I would imagine that it was even more important for the Germans to use "Sie" and "Du" so there was a bigger difference.
Emily: Yeah probably.
Niina: So when Louisa was travelling in Germany. She must have been using "Sie" a lot, when she was talking to people. Yeah I think in that relationship between Jo and Friedrich, "Thou" it becomes more of a pet name. Then it is interesting because when you read poems from Henry Thoreau or Goethe they are always using the word "thou". Makes you wonder if that was something that happened between Louisa and Henry, but that´s all speculation.
Emily: Yeah, we can´t know for sure but it is an interesting quirk. I think we also forget sort of the more antiquated nature of language at that time. I think we try so hard to modernize Little Women and bring it to our own time that I think we forget that it is very much a product of it´s time and is very much colored by history. Which I think people forget factors a lot in the events in the book that actually colors it.
Niina: It annoyed me a lot how Greta Gerwig was complaining how he is using the word "thou" and like I am reading Little Women when I´m 17 and I´m thinking it´s actually really romantic, but then again I was studying German back then. Then again also the translations, like I´v got this old Finnish translation of Little Women and the part where he calls Jo "Professorin, it is translated to "Professor´s little wife".
Emily: Oh no!
Niina: And then in German it means a female professor!
Emily: Female professor!
Niina: Female professor. He is giving her this title that she is his equal. I can imagine someone, a Finnish person reading Little Women, that poor translation from the 50´s and go "Oh Friedrich is such a sexist" and then in the original he is a feminist! Okay. I am pretty sure that the person who translated that didn´t speak a word of German. To my copy I corrected the German words there. I hope that the new translations are better but that was something.
Emily: I know this is a severe misunderstanding of that word. The thing is it is so cute when he calls her "Professorin" Even though he is older than her. He sees her also as a professor and on his level, even though on paper they don´t start out that way. I really can´t understand how people can´t get behind this relationship.
Niina: A part of me hopes that they will make a Little Women adaptation where they clearly show that Friedrich is German and maybe also include parts of him living in Germany. That would be nice and it was important to Louisa that he was German
Thank you for listening. Like comment and share and subscribe to Small umbrella in the rain to learn more about the history of Little Women.
aWhy Friedrich is poor/ Little Women explained
One of the things that I come across over and over again as someone who studies Little Women, is that a lot of people don´t understand why Louisa May Alcott married Jo to a man who was poor. This question is followed by mentioning Laurie´s wealth. Even Little Women script writers have asked this, which always surprises me.
What if I would tell you that Louisa marrying Jo to a poor character who Jo loves and not to a rich character who she is not in love with is one of the most feminist aspects of Little Women.
Louisa May Alcott was born into New England´s transcendentalist movement. Transcendentalism was religious philosophical movement that was based on German philosophy. One of the main thesis of the transcendentalism was the importance of self-reliance. A belief that a person should be able to take care of themselves and others. Rooted to the idea that no matter the circumstances you were born into, you can still make something of yourself. Leave a mark to this world.
One of Louisa´s favorite writers was the German poet Goethe. Goethe was born into great wealth, which eventually led him to a quest to find himself. In away being born as a rich man caused emptiness. Some readers might notice that this is down to a T, Laurie´s character arc in the book, but it has never been adapted.
Goethe finds writing to be his calling and he recommends work as the best remedy for the broken heart. In Little Women when Laurie is in Vienna after he has been rejected by Jo and has been lectured by Amy, he is writing an opera which would ”harrow Jo´s soul and melt her heart” but he just keeps seeing Jo in her most unflattering ways and Jo is replaced by a beautiful ghost that looks like Amy and Laurie sees himself as a romantic prince.
He is flirting with this ghost for a while but then he stops and for the first time in his life Laurie realizes that what he is doing is silly, and he remembers Amy´s words. She took his hand and said that it was white and soft as a woman, and had never done any real work. Only picked flowers for ladies and wore Jouvin´s best gloves.
As a result of this Laurie goes to work for his grandfather. Laurie´s character arc in Little Women is not about Amy or Jo. Laurie´s character arc is about how Laurie becomes a man. In Louisa May Alcott´s world the only acceptable wealthy people are the philanthropists. Marches are friends with older Mr Lawrence not because he is rich but because he uses his wealth to do good. Laurie gets his redemption arc because Amy gets him to support his philanthropist projects.
Self reliance was a big part of Goethe´s philosophy but if we go back into the history of Germany and many other European countries that were protestant, and this is a big part of American history as well, one part of spirituality was the idea that work is beautified by faith and that work, even the most mundane work has a higher meaning. We live in a very secular world but understanding the Christian aspect of the novel can make it easier to understand it.
Transcendentalism has a mixed reputation these days. Unfortunately a lot of that has been spread by the Little Women film makers, who say it is preachy and anti-feminist. It is very ironic because the transcendentalists were an important part of the first wave of feminism because they believed that women had the right to work. Louisa, her sisters May, Anna and Lizzie, they were all working girls, Louisa´s mother Abba was one of the first American social workers.
In Little Women the Marchs´s they used to be on a higher place in the society. In the novel aunt March is the sister of Jo´s father and her husband died and they had a child together, and she died as well. That would make any person bitter. So aunt March is wealthy but she is not happy.
Jo describes uncle March being one of her favorite people. He was kind and he liked to play with kids and that he had a great library. Uncle March actually sounds a lot like Friedrich.
Why did Greta Gerwig decided that it was a great idea to make aunt March a rich spinster who never wanted to marry (where did she get the money, film doesn´t explain that, who is she related to?) Reminds my what Little Women fan- Melodie Ellison said ”Greta Gerwig decided to put herself above everyone else, Louisa May Alcott included".
The Marches they used to have more money but when their father allowed a black child to enter his school , he lost his position and that is when the Marches became poor. In reality the Alcott´s were poorer than the Marches.
Jo is never romantically interested about Laurie in the novel, and in part 2 Jo is actually criticizing Laurie because he doesn´t take his education seriously,and this is a big deal for Jo because she would like to study and go to university. When Jo returns after an eventful year in New York and Laurie proposes her, she sees that he is still not at all interested to find a job. He basically tells her (Jo) to be the one who tells him what to do with his life. It is not Jo´s job to raise him.
One of the re-occurring themes in Little Women is that Laurie is constantly unaware that he is privileged. One example is chapter ”Laurie makes mischief and Jo makes peace” where he is 15 and was pretending to be his tutor John Brooke and send Meg letters in his name.
There was already a rumour going on that Meg and Laurie were an item, and that Marmee was trying to marry Meg to Laurie. This started in the chapter ”Meg goes to vanity fair”. Of course Marmee hated this rumor and so did Meg, but Laurie seemed to be completely unaware of this and that he nearly ruined Meg´s reputations and his tutors reputation.
There are lot of this type of instances in Little Women. In part 2 Laurie is often questioned for buying nice clothes and then he gives worthless gifts to his friends.
Friedrich and Jo are on the same social level, they are both poor and they what it is like to be poor. Jo´s family were not rich, but they were living quite comfortably before. Friedrich had the same experience. In Berlin he was a respected professor. He would get his monthly paycheck. He lived alone so his expenses were less. Then his sister got ill. He moved to New York to take care of her. She died and he adopted his nephews. Now he can only find a job as a language tutor.
What Jo falls in love with in Friedrich is that he is self-reliant and hardworking and that he supports Jo and her desire to work and make her own money. In the chapter friend which is terribly adapted in most adaptations, Friedrich sees that Jo is struggling to write for Weekly Volcano. The stories that she was asked to write forced her to look material that caused her depression and anxiety.
One of the methods that the transcendentalists used as a method to ”transcend” was that they ”scanned” themselves. They would look at the situation from multiple different angles and see if there was something that needed to be changed. Louisa did this all her life. In Little Women Amy, Jo, Laurie and Friedrich they all have these moments of clarity.
When Friedrich tells Jo that the sensational stories can corrupt person´s mind, Jo agrees with him because these sensational stories have been already corrupting her mind. Louisa did the same as Jo, she wrote sensational stories and then she had a moment of clarity. We could compare this to a person who is working for a company. Payment is small, they get not appreciation and they are asked to produce content that goes against their own values.
Friedrich helps Jo to see all that and by doing that she gets her self worth back. Her writing also improves because after this Friedrich gives Jo a set of Shakespeare´s novels and Jo begins to search her own literal style.
The Amazing thing is that Jo does exactly the same to Friedrich. Fritz is described to be very friendly, extroverted person but the narrator also mentions that he feels quite isolated. He is not in a place in his life where he would like to be. He is in a job that doesn´t give him professional satisfaction. The narrator (Louisa) mentions that he dreams about falling in love and starting a family. He loves his nephews but he is also painfully aware that it would be difficult to find a person who would accept the boys to their life as well. Louisa also points out that Friedrich has experienced discrimination for being German and that makes it difficult for him to find a job.
The best adaptation that shows this is Little Women musical. It even has a line where Friedrich tells Jo that ever since he started to fall for her his students told him that he is much happier and smiles all the time. In the novel it is the night before Jo is leaving. Fritz gets his moment of clarity ”Oh my god. I´m so in love with this woman. What should I do”.
The reason why Jo goes back home is not because they argue like in the films. It´s because Beth gets ill and Friedrich lost a sister. He knows what that is like. Jo does the same to Friedrich what he has done for her. She inspires him to take life by the balls. He starts to look for another job so he could provide both Jo and his nephews and when Jo accepts his proposal and they begin to turn Plumfield into a school Jo returns him his previous status as a professor and he simultaneously supports her career as a writer.
This is how Jo addressed her family about her plans: “Now, my dear people," continued Jo earnestly, "just understand that this isn't a new idea of mine, but a long cherished plan. Before my Fritz came, I used to think how, when I'd made my fortune, and no-one needed me at home, I'd hire a big house, and pick up some poor, forlorn little lads who hadn't any mothers, and take care of them, and make life jolly for them before it was too late. I see so many going to ruin for want of help at the right minute, I love so to do anything for them, I seem to feel their wants, and sympathize with their troubles, and oh, I should so like to be a mother to them! …I told my plan to Fritz once, and he said it was just what he would like, and agreed to try it when we got rich. Bless his dear heart, he's been doing it all his life – helping poor boys, I mean, not getting rich, that he'll never be. Money doesn't stay in his pocket long enough to lay up any. But now, thanks to my good old aunt, who loved me better than I ever deserved, I'm rich, at least I feel so, and we can live at Plumfield perfectly well, if we have a flourishing school. It's just the place for boys, the house is big, and the furniture strong and plain. There's plenty of room for dozens inside, and splendid grounds outside. They could help in the garden and orchard. Such work is healthy, isn't it, sir? Then Fritz could train and teach in his own way, and Father will help him. I can feed and nurse and pet and scold them, and Mother will be my stand-by. I've always longed for lots of boys, and never had enough, now I can fill the house full and revel in the little dears to my heart's content. Think what luxury – Plumfield my own, and a wilderness of boys to enjoy it with me."’
Philosopher Waldo Emerson was Louisa’s friend and neighbor; I will read you a quote from his book Self-Reliance: ‘What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.’
What Waldo is saying there is that trusting your own instincts is always the best path to take, and it is also the more difficult one, because there are always people who try to convince you to go against what you know is right.
Here is a quote from Louisa’s early novel The Lady and the Woman, where she discusses her ideas of marriage. Eligible Edward Windsor claims that the style of woman he most admires are those who ‘claim our protection and support, giving us in return affection and obedience, beautiful and tender creatures submissive to our will, confident in our judgment and lenient to our faults, to be cherished in sunshine and sheltered in storms.’
Kate Loring, a young woman of 24, with no pretensions to beauty, who has raised her four orphaned brothers, replies ‘You have given your idol a heart but no head; I would have her humble though self-reliant, gentle, man’s companion not his plaything, able and willing to face storms as well as sunshine, and to share life’s burdens as they come.’ Louisa was part of the women’s movement that developed into the first wave of feminism. Whilst the moving power of this movement was to encourage people to marry for love instead of money, most marriages of the time were because of financial reasons. In Little Woman Marmee says to the sisters that she would rather see them married to poor men and be happy than unhappily to rich men. All the marriages in Little Women, in one way or another, are wrapped around this idea that love is connected to self-reliance. It is a very Christian idea of marriage, the idea that you build something better together with your significant other. I usually try to avoid politics and religion in all of my podcasts, but because Louisa May Alcott was a Christian and it had a big impact on her work, this is one of the things where I make an exception.
When Louisa was in her early 20s, she considered marrying for money to help out her family; in Little Women this element is given to Amy, and a lot of people think that this makes Amy a social climber: I don’t think that was Louisa’s intention. In the book Amy considers marrying Fred Vaughan because she wants to lift her family away from poverty. She’s not thrilled about the idea; she sees it as her duty. Sometimes I wonder if the people who criticize Amy for marrying Laurie, who is rich but not as rich as Fred but still wealthy – would they be as quick to criticize Jo if she had married Laurie? The cause of the whole argument is the lack of Laurie’s character arc in the adaptations.
In the nineteenth century, despite the desire to work, women’s work areas were limited. There was some factory work, but often women would work as maids or governesses or tutors. Amy writes in her letters that if the artistic career doesn’t take off, one of the options is to come back home to Concord and work as an art teacher.
Both Jo and Amy had very similar ideas about wanting to become wealthy, for the wrong reasons. Marrying a rich man, and to support your family that way, seems almost too easy, but in the long run that kind of thing could ruin your life. Jo thought that writing sensational stories would be easy money, and almost cost her her mental health. Amy’s moment of clarity comes when Laurie reminds her that she should not sacrifice her own happiness, and that her family would definitely not support that kind of decision, and the truth is that Amy is reminded of her values and the way she was raised.
I have talked about Laddie Wisniewski who was one of the models for Laurie. Louisa met Laddie in Switzerland, when she was working there. It is still a bit unclear why he was there in the first place – maybe he was taking care of his health. According to Louisa, he had tuberculosis and she was nursing him; he was very flirtatious with Louisa, then he allegedly proposed to Louisa’s employer, [? 19.52 Anna Weld?], who did not react well, and Laddie was kicked out of the premises. Anna Weld was a very wealthy woman, which has led some Alcott scholars to speculate that Ladislas was after her money.
For the angry Laurie fans, who are listening to this, I think the part of Laurie chasing Jo is what comes from this encounter with Laddie Wisniewski, and the rest of it probably comes from Goethe, but continues after the publication of Little Women. Louisa’s publisher had sent a check to Laddie Wisniewski; Louisa and Ladislas had not met each other after they had met in Europe. Why was Louisa giving him money? These are all theories. Ladislas had got married, and he had children, and he needed the money to support them; Louisa loved kids, and she was happy to help. Second scenario: he was blackmailing money from Louisa, threatening to go to the press and tell about their time together in Europe; Laddie was 10-11 years younger than Louisa, and that would have been quite a scandal. I don’t know which scenario is the truth, but I do know that Louisa’s sister May also knew Laddie and they had actually lived in Paris at the same time; but May wasn’t a huge fan of him, and it seems that Louisa got fed up with him as well. They described him as boring, and said that he never paid back his debts for money that Louisa gave him. Maybe May had also given him money that he never paid back.
Whilst the biggest crime that the adaptations do is to make it seem that Amy and Jo are always arguing over Laurie, in the book Jo never wants him, and Amy doesn’t want him either when he is being lazy and unproductive. In an article called ‘Happy Women’ which Louisa wrote about a year after Little Women was published, Louisa writes that accepting a false idea of love just because you are lonely is self-deceiving. Isn’t this what happens in Little Women? Jo considers Laurie’s proposal because she is lonely; perhaps the reason why Louisa rejected Laddie Wisniewski was because she was still in love with Henry Thoreau.
Henry, like all the Transcendentalists, believed in self-reliance; I think the best way to describe Henry’s relationship with money is that he was a minimalist; he also came from the working class – his father had a pencil factory where Henry worked from time to time. He was also a teacher and occasionally a gardener, a hunter and a naturalist – and a writer; and of course Henry was a Transcendentalist philosopher like Friedrich. In Little Women’s saga Henry is constantly present, specially in Little Men where Louisa describes his love for simplicity, when she writes about Friedrich’s love for the natural world.
In the 19th century some religious organizations considered the Transcendentalists heretic, because they almost had a pantheistic belief that Nature was the most perfect expression of God. One of my observant book-readers said that it really was based on someone who Louisa was in love with, and that explains why Louisa was frustrated by the fans who were demanding that she married Jo to Laurie.
Louisa never really liked Little Women; she considered it as one of her worst novels. I think the observant book-reader is right that Louisa wrote a lot about herself, and therefore the success of Little Women would create very conflicted feelings. I and my friend Emily talked about this in our ‘Laurie’ episode; in the 19th century Laurie was a super-popular character, and perhaps one part of that popularity was because he was wealthy. Every time that Louisa was asked about the real-life Laurie, she would always speak very highly about Laddie to the public; but then in her private letters she was not so happy with him.
So why is Friedrich poor? He is poor because he is Jo’s equal, and therefore they shared their similar views on self-reliance and can build their life together. This is what Louisa writes in the ‘Umbrella’ chapter; Friedrich says “I could not find the heart to take you from that so happy home until I could haf a prospect of one to gif you, after much time, perhaps, and hard work. How could I ask you to gif up so much for a poor old fellow, who has no fortune but a little learning?" "I'm glad you are poor. I couldn't bear a rich husband," said Jo decidedly, adding in a softer tone, "Don't fear poverty. I've known it long enough to lose my dread and be happy working for those I love, and don't call yourself old – forty is the prime of life. I couldn't help loving you if you were seventy!"
n Jo´s boys, which is the last little women book, Jo and Friedrich are making out, and he is seventy!
The book that was Louisa’s personal favorite was ‘Moods’, a story that she began to write when she was 17, and she revisited it several times during her life. If you want to read about Louisa’s love life and relationships, ‘Moods’ is pretty explicit, and Jo’s and Friedrich’s age difference in the book is 16 years, which is also Louisa and Henry’s age difference. When it comes to the adaptations, they don’t usually pay much attention to wealth and class; Laurie’s missing character arc is a prime example of that.
That Fritz is poor or not is often pretty vague – same with him being an immigrant, for example in Greta Gerwig’s film there was an earlier script where Friedrich was written to be German and Jo’s father gives a speech about the USA being built upon immigrants, which is true, but then in the final script, and then in the final film, Friedrich is vaguely European and the part about immigrants was turned into a joke. The only film where Friedrich is clearly poor is the 1994 film. Gabriel Byrne´s clothes; in the film they look really nice but they don’t look new. The 1978 series is the only adaptation which shows that Friedrich is applying for jobs after Jo has returned to Concord, and there is a scene where he gets the job and he is building courage to travel to Concord and tell about it to Jo. But the musical is probably the best when it shows that not only does Fritz has a good effect on Jo and her writing, but she has a positive effect on him and his life, in a wider sense.
I will read you a quote from Henry’s poem called ‘Friendship’:
When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates
And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love's bands more tight,
Service he ne'er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;
In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move
Based on Louisa´s diary markings from the time when she was in her early 20s, it would seem that one of her dreams was to start a school with Henry, where she would be the boys’ mother and he would be the teacher. Henry passed away in 1862; quite soon after that, Louisa registered to work as a nurse in the war; we can fairly say that these events are connected. The idea of school reappears in Little Women. One of Louisa’s friends, Elizabeth Powell and her husband, seem to have been models for Jo and Friedrich; like Jo and Fritz, they even had two sons together. Elizabeth also became one of the first female deans of a university.
Another model for Jo and Fritz were a couple who Louisa greatly admired, Eliza and Charles Follen. Now Charles Follen was a German immigrant; he was really good friends with Louisa’s uncle, Samuel May, and one of the early figures of Transcendentalism. Charles died in an accident, and Eliza wrote a book about him and their marriage. You don’t only see this couple’s influence on Little Women, but also in countless other Louisa May Alcott novels.
Louisa had the habit of inserting herself and people she knew into the books that she wrote. Charles was almost a legendary figure among the Transcendentalists; Louisa basically grew up hearing stories about him. Charles was a hardcore Abolitionist, a revolutionist educator, and he was from – you guessed it – Berlin. Charles was a political refugee. When I now read Little Women, a part of me believes that Friedrich was a political refugee who was fighting against the oppressors. May I tell you, Little Women fans who like to spend their time meditating on Friedrich’s character (like yours truly) are often interested in the different philosophical movements of the past.
I have a few friends who sometimes talk about Friedrich’s childhood and his past relationships before he met Jo. If we think about Henry Thoreau and then Charles Follen – I don’t know if they ever met, but Henry would have known about him because all Transcendentalists knew about Charles Follen. They were both intellectuals, but they both had a rebellious side and a very strong sense of social justice; both Amy and Jo grew up in a family where both parents were always happy to help the poor, and both sisters knew what it was like to be poor. Laurie can never be Jo’s partner because he doesn’t have the mental capacity to support her writing career; it doesn’t mean that Laurie is stupid – it’s just not something that he’s interested in or that he knows a lot about. He is not very grounded, so he can’t really run a school with Jo, but everything works out great for him as Amy is very grounded. When Jo sees him [Friedrich] for the first time, he’s helping this little servant girl, who is carrying a heavy bucket of coal. One of the better parts of the 2017 series is the line where Fritz says that it pains his heart to see a child suffer. Beside their love of books and Goethe and philosophy, Jo and Friedrich also share similar views on anti-slavery and child labor, and also on education, and when we think about all these people who Louisa inserted into Jo’s and Friedrich’s characters – Charles, Eliza, Henry, Louisa herself – they are all connected by this level of rebellion-ism and their refusal to conform to the regulations of society. How amazing is that! Thank you for listening.
Três estágios de namoro do século 19
Explorar o desenvolvimento do relacionamento romântico de Jo e Friedrich no livro, Vou usar os estudos da historiadora Karen Lystra sobre o amor romântico e o namoro do século XIX como comparação. Existem três estágios no namoro do século 19. O amor vem por uma infinidade de razões. Os olhares compartilhados representam uma transação mútua de vidas interiores. Isso leva à identificação de egos e reconhecimento mútuo de pessoas.
O despertar sexual da jo
Jo passa muito tempo em Nova York, cerca de 8 meses. Quando ela vê Friedrich pela primeira vez, ela fica imediatamente atraída por ele.
Quando a porta da sala se abriu e fechou, alguém começou a falar "Kennst du das land" como uma grande abelha, era terrivelmente impróprio, eu sei, mas não consegui resistir à tentação. e levantando uma ponta da cortina antes da porta de vidro que espiei. O professor Bhaer estava lá e enquanto ele organizava seus livros, eu dei uma boa olhada nele. Um alemão normal, bastante robusto, com cabelos castanhos caindo por toda a cabeça, barba espessa, nariz bonito, os olhos mais gentis que já vi, e uma grande voz esplêndida que faz bem aos ouvidos depois de nossa tagarelice americana afiada ou escorregadia. Exceto por seus belos dentes, eu gostava dele. Pois ele tinha uma cabeça bonita, seu linho era muito bonito e ele parecia um cavalheiro.
Com base na primeira impressão de Jo em Friedrich, ela parece estar completamente fascinada por ele. Isso é o que a fã de Little Women Melodie Ellison tem a dizer sobre os looks de Friedrich.
Acho que parte do motivo pelo qual as pessoas agem como Friedrich não é atraente é por causa da conhecida citação de Louisa May Alcott sobre intencionalmente fazer um casamento engraçado para Jo. Eu não ficaria surpreso se ela não quisesse dizer isso. Laurie era convencionalmente atraente. Existem homens em nossos tempos atuais, que se enquadram na mesma categoria. Homens como Zac Efron. Por exemplo, se você me perguntasse o que eu acho de Zac Efron, Direi que ele é bonito, mas não estou pessoalmente atraída por ele. Como Jo, prefiro meus homens barbudos e um pouco robustos, mas o mais importante, inteligentes, trabalhadores e gentis. Acho que as pessoas que não podem aceitar uma versão mais antiga e menos quente do professor falha em entender o relacionamento dele e de Jo. Ela o respeitava e ele a ela e por ela, essa era a sensualidade final.
falha em entender o relacionamento dele e de Jo. Ela o respeitava e ele a ela e por ela, essa era a sensualidade final. Um dos maiores equívocos sobre as mulheres pequenas é que Jo é apenas baseada em Louisa. Louisa escreveu para Jo para ser uma versão idealizada de si mesma e há elementos em Jo que vêm de mulheres que Louisa admirava. A amiga de Louisa, Elizabeth Powell, foi a verdadeira modelo para Jo, de 15 anos. Com base na troca de cartas entre Elizabeth e Louisa, Elizabeth não gostava muito da ideia de casamento, o que é compreensível desde que ela tinha apenas 16 anos. Elizabeth se apaixonou e se casou 10 anos depois e parece que ela continuou sendo um modelo para Jo. Primeiro para Jo March e depois para Jo Bhaer.
Na realidade, Louisa, de 15 anos, era o completo oposto. Louisa era apaixonada pelo melhor amigo do pai, o filósofo Waldo Emerson. Louisa escrevia cartas de amor para ele, mas nunca as mandava e ficava sentada embaixo da janela dele cantando a música de Migon. A canção de Mignon é uma canção do romance de Goethe, o aprendizado de Wilhelm Meister. Que era um dos livros favoritos de Louisa. Emerson foi um dos muitos modelos de Friedrich. O principal modelo foi o filósofo Henry Thoreau, que mereceu o afeto ao longo da vida de Louisa. Quando Jo encontra Friedrich pela primeira vez, ele está cantando a canção de Mignon.
Quando Jo escreve sua carta para casa, ela diz q ue a carta é bastante "bhaery" e que ela está sempre interessada em pessoas estranhas. Podemos interpretar que Jo é fascinada pelos excêntricos de Friedrich e é aqui que Jo encontra sua alma gêmea porque durante toda a sua vida ela se considerou estranha e inadequada.
Uma das razões pelas quais a relação de Jo e Laurie nunca pode ser uma relação entre iguais era que Laurie estava procurando uma figura materna em Jo, e Friedrich ser mais velho e mais maduro do que Laurie é um paradoxo disso.
"Eu estava em nossa sala ontem à noite e o Sr. Bhaer entrou. Com alguns jornais para a Sra. Kirk, ela não estava lá, mas a Minnie, que é uma velhinha, me apresentou muito bem.
”Esta é a amiga da Mama, Srta. March”
“Sim, ela é alegre e gostamos muito dela”, acrescentou Kitty, que é uma “enfant térrible”.
Nós dois nos curvamos e depois rimos, pois a introdução afetada e a adição direta eram um contraste bastante cômico.
Como seu criador, Jo e Friedrich compartilham seu amor pelas crianças. Já no primeiro romance, Jo escapou da sociedade feminina e saiu correndo para brincar com os meninos. Em Nova York, Jo está mais interessada nas ações de Franz e Emil do que em suas pupilas femininas, Kitty e Minnie.
Quanto mais tempo Jo passa em Nova York, mais atraente Friedrich se torna, tanto física quanto intelectualmente. Quanto mais tempo Jo passa em Nova York, mais atraente Friedrich se torna, tanto física quanto intelectualmente. Quando chega a primavera, ela nota as "curvas agradáveis ao redor de sua boca" ”Seus olhos que nunca foram frios ou duros”, ”Suas mãos grandes que tinham um aperto quente e longo que era mais expressivo do que palavras”.
Simpósio / interesses mútuos
Já na primeira parte de Mulheres pequeninas, descobrimos que nem sempre Jo gosta das confraternizações de classe alta. Agora que ela está nos círculos de escritores, poetas e intelectuais, é o mundo do qual ela anseia fazer parte ela está desapontada com suas próprias ilusões que ela criou sobre aquele mundo.
Antes que a noite acabasse. Jo ficou tão desiludida que se sentou em um canto para se recuperar. O Sr. Bhaer logo se juntou a ela parecendo um pouco fora de seu elemento e logo vários dos filósofos, cada um deles envolvido em seu hobby, se prepararam para realizar um torneio intelectual no recreio. Friedrich também parece sentir que está no lugar errado.
o fica angustiada quando está acompanhando o debate e um dos jovens filósofos coloca o intelecto acima de Deus. Após alguma hesitação, Friedrich mantém seu discurso em defesa da religião. A fala deixa uma impressão eterna em Jo e eu até diria que é quando Jo começa a perceber que seus sentimentos por Friedrich são mais do que amizade.
"Ela começou a ver que o caráter é melhor posse do que dinheiro, posição, intelecto ou beleza e sentir que se grandeza é o que um homem sábio tem que descobrir que seja verdade, reverência e boa vontade,então seu amigo Friedrich Bhaer não era apenas bom, mas ótimo ”.
Little Women é um Bildungsroman. Bildungsroman é um gênero literal originário da Alemanha. A tradução para o inglês poderia ser um romance sobre o "amadurecimento". O foco de um Bildungsroman está no desenvolvimento moral e psicológico dos personagens,
No cinema e em todas as adaptações para a TV até agora, a cena em que Fritz expressou suas opiniões sobre literatura sensacionalista se transformou em um conflito. Acho que é para criar mais drama, mas não é assim que as coisas acontecem no livro porque Jo já rotulou seus escritos sensacionais como “lixo”.
Muito antes de ela sequer pensar em viajar para New York. Ela se assegurou de que suas intenções são boas porque usaria o dinheiro para ajudar sua família. Esse conflito interno de Jo começa no capítulo 27. Literalmente lições.
Neste capítulo, Jo assiste a uma palestra sobre pirâmides. Lá ela encontra um jovem que está lendo uma história emocionante escrita pela Sra. Nordbury. Jo se diverte com a admiração do menino pelo “lixo” que Jo chama esse tipo de literatura o que enfatiza seu desejo de se desprender dessas histórias.
Assim, as visões negativas de Jo em relação a histórias sensacionais são claramente identificadas. Quando Jo ouve o quanto a Sra. Nordbury ganha com seus contos de Stress e Thunder. Jo começa a mudar de ideia e logo começa a escrevê-los sozinha.
Os contos de Stress e Thunder se originam de Goethe. Em alemão, esse gênero é chamado de ”Sturm und Drang”. Drang se refere a profundo estresse emocional. Sturm und Drang foi um movimento da literatura e da música na Alemanha do final do século 18 e foi amplamente influenciado pelos escritos e peças de Goethe. Há uma grande ênfase na fé do indivíduo e o movimento foi altamente influenciado por Shakespeare. As peças Sturm und Drang de Goethe eram sobre heróis teutônicos muito masculinos o que provavelmente é o que fascinou Louisa como autora. As primeiras histórias de Jo são tentativas pobres de capturar o espírito de Sturm und Drang.
Sua história estava cheia de desespero e desespero, pois seu conhecimento limitado dessas emoções desconfortáveis permitiu que ela o fizesse.
Jo leva em consideração todos os conselhos que recebe de todos ao seu redor de buscar o conselho de alguém que pudesse ajudá-la a melhorar como escritora. Ela vai contra seu próprio julgamento quando sabe que alguns dos conselhos que recebe não melhoram a história.
”Assim, com firmeza espartana, a jovem autora colocou seu primogênito na mesa e o picou tão cruelmente quanto qualquer ogro. Na esperança de agradar a todos, ela seguiu o conselho de todos e como o velho e seu burro na fábula, não convinha a ninguém. Depois de enviar para um monte de revistas".
Jo escreve seu primeiro romance, que é um romance e recebe críticas mistas. Jo agradece o feedback e aprende com ele.
"Sua família e amigos administravam, conforto e acomodação liberalmente, no entanto, foi um momento difícil para a sensível Jo de alto astral, que tinha boas intenções e aparentemente agiu tão mal mas lhe fez bem, para aqueles cujas opiniões tinham real valor, lhe deu críticas que é a melhor educação do autor e quando o primeiro azedume passou, ela podia rir do pobre livrinho, mas acredita ainda nisso, e sente-se ainda mais sábia e forte pelas batidas que recebeu ”.
Problemas de saúde mental (causados pelo vulcão semanal)
No capítulo 34, quando Jo entra no mundo editorial em New York, ela entra no mundo dominado por homens. Sua história sensacional é cortada de um terço de seu comprimento original. Jo está frustrada com a maneira como o Sr. Dashwood quer cortar toda a moral da história e a moral é o que Jo deseja manter.
Eventualmente, Jo concorda que essas alterações sejam feitas. Apesar de seu escudo masculino, Jo é bastante emocional internamente, embora ela não goste mostrá-lo e escrever contos emocionantes torna-se angustiante.
"Ela estava vivendo em uma sociedade ruim, e pensava que era, , é influência afetada, pois ela estava se alimentando muito e extravagante de comida perigosa e insubstancial e estava tirando rapidamente a flor inocente de sua natureza, por um conhecimento prematuro do lado mais escuro da vida. O que vem em breve para todos nós.
Jo tem vergonha de seus escritos. Ela insiste em usar pseudônimo e não conta para ninguém em casa o que está fazendo e nem ela mostrou suas histórias para Fritz. Friedrich nunca critica Jo como escritora. Ele está criticando o gênero. Friedrich é honesto. Ele quer que Jo se leve a sério como escritora. O livro que Jo não grita ou discute com Fritz, ao contrário do filme que Jo faz porque Friedrich expressa o que Jo tem pensado há muito tempo. Como resultado, Jo queima seus romances inúteis, , então o livro que Jo tenta escrever para crianças. Não parece certo. Então ela escreve histórias que só tem moralidades, isso também não parece certo. Ela salta de um gênero literal para outro. Experimentando.
Friedrich acabou se tornando um amigo. Ele incentiva Jo a estudar pessoas da vida real para que ela possa desenvolver seus personagens e como presente de Natal, , ele dá a ela um conjunto de romances de Shakespeare. Goethe, o ídolo de Louisa, teria pensamentos semelhantes sobre as histórias sensacionais que Friedrich tinha.
Aqui está uma citação de Megan Armknecht, que fez uma extensa pesquisa entre o personagem de Friedrich e Goethe. ”Bhaer está tentando ajudar Jo a se tornar um escritor genuíno, em vez de alguém que atendia às exigências da multidão. Isso é algo que Goethe teria feito. Ele não gostava da superficialidade nas pessoas e na arte e foi frequentemente ofendido ao longo da vida ofendidos com as pretensões superficiais, os falsos objetivos, escritores que por terem alguma sensibilidade poética e algum dom de expressão ”.
Louisa deu crédito a Goethe como o autor que mais pensou em mim sobre a criação e compreensão de personagens.
No filme de 1994, Jo discute com Friedrich sobre seus escritos. O filme meio que retrata Jo como uma ultrafeminista quando Jo diz que uma pena que seus escritos não são bons o suficiente para a alta moral de Friedrich, este é o oposto completo do livro Jo, porque o livro Jo e Friedrich, eles sempre compartilharam a mesma moral.
Aqui está uma citação de uma pessoa que se juntou a #teambhaer" depois de se tornar aquatinta com Friedrich pela primeira vez através do filme de Greta Gerwig e eles se inspiraram para ler o livro.
”Nunca li ou assisti a Little Women antes disso mas eu sou tão fenomenalmente encontrado em Friedrich, apenas em geral. Mas isso vem de alguém que assistiu ao filme de 2019 primeiro e não tinha contexto antes disso. Como escritor experiente em cinema, Tomei conhecimento do paralismo cinematográfico de Gerwig entre o passado e o presente durante a minha vigília e eu poderia dizer que algo deve ter sido retirado da equação. Como forma de equilibrar a visão da Gerwig. No entanto, eu tinha carinho pelo homem que basicamente não tinha existência no meio do filme mal no fato de que o método do essencialismo narrativo de Gerwig ainda me fazia apreciar seu peso. No mesmo 2019, Jo resumiu toda a sua solidão em uma única varredura, como descobri mais tarde, ela dedicou um capítulo inteiro a esses calafrios sombrios.
Descobri que a varredura limpa de Friedrich se reduziu a linhas que poderiam ser facilmente esquecidas se um veio de atuação em vez de um script. "Mas você tem alguém que te leve a sério?" Para falar sobre o seu trabalho, ele era basicamente aquele destinado a simplesmente vê-la. Que em uma única linha Greta Gerwig tinha noções essenciais de seu caráter.
Isso se correlaciona com o livro Fritz Agora o Sr. Bhaer era um homem diferente e lento para dar suas opiniões. Não porque estavam inquietos, mas muito sinceros e sérios para serem falados levianamente, enquanto olhava de Jo para vários outros jovens atraídos pelo brilho da pirotecnia filosófica. Ele franziu as sobrancelhas e desejou falar, temendo que alguma alma jovem e inflamável se perdesse pelos foguetes para saber quando a exibição acabou ”. Claro, como eu realmente admiti, 2019 Friedrich foi minha primeira versão de Friedrich e ele ainda conseguiu chamar minha atenção, por tudo que valia a pena. Foi bom ler o livro 2 e descobrir que Alcott o escreveu como uma adição valiosa, , ao invés de uma desculpa, como eu tive a infelicidade de ler as críticas recentemente que fiquei chocado com tudo o que alguém poderia argumentar o contrário.
Isso me faz pensar por que Greta gastou tanto tempo e energia criticando o livro Friedrich enquanto promove seu filme. Com apenas essa linha simples ele se estabelece como alguém digno do amor de Jo, O filme de Gerwig tem como foco o quanto Jo se incomoda com a mudança, e a cena de feedback não promove o ultrafeminismo mas Jo sai mais infantil. Ela grita que nunca mais fala com ele e não é algo que o livro Jo faria. Na série pbs, Friedrich realmente grita com Jo. Isso não é algo que o livro Friedrich faz.
Friedrich não era tendencioso para Jo quando se tratava de seus sentimentos, ele sabia que ela poderia fazer mais e queria que ela fosse tão boa escritora quanto desejasse. Ele a vê como igual, como uma mulher com coração e alma verdadeiros, uma mulher com talento. Ele não é fácil para ela, mas também não é cruel com ela quando se trata de sua escrita. Acho que, em última análise, ela aprecia que Friedrich nunca suavizou o golpe
mas sempre a tratou como alguém cujas idéias e pensamentos deveriam ser ouvidos.
Aqui está outra citação das lições literárias do capítulo 27: "É só isso. Tenho me preocupado com a coisa há tanto tempo que realmente não sei se é bom, ruim ou indiferente. Será uma grande ajuda ter pessoas legais e imparciais dando uma olhada e me dizendo o que elas acham disso. "
Todo o capítulo é sobre como Jo aprende a definir sua arte a partir do feedback que recebe, muito antes de ela conhecer Friedrich, e isso prenuncia a chegada do personagem de Friedrich. Há um desejo de encontrar uma pessoa que não só possa fazer críticas construtivas mas também a incentive a explorar sua capacidade de contadora de histórias.
O filme de 2018 fez um ótimo trabalho ao tornar o editor de Bhaer Jo e professor de literatura, e até agora é o único filme em que Jo ouve e aceita o feedback que recebe da mesma forma que o livro Jo faz.
Quando estava fazendo essa pesquisa, fiquei chocado quando percebi que a cena em Little Women onde Jo está tendo um colapso mental porque das histórias que ela tem que escrever ao vulcão semanal, que nunca sai nos filmes. Quando Louisa tinha vinte e poucos anos, ela escreveu para um jornal de notícias de Nova York chamado Frank Lesley's semanais ilustrado. Weekly Volcano é uma caricatura desse jornal.
Tendemos a ter uma maneira bastante unidimensional de pensar no que se refere às pessoas históricas porque as pessoas históricas tinham moral. Assim como temos moral. Louisa escrevia por dinheiro e escrevia por dinheiro que vinha com problemas de saúde mental. Ela teve que procurar coisas que a deixavam desconfortável.Eles tinham histórias de homens abusando de mulheres e algumas das histórias eram racistas e sexistas. Essas coisas contradiziam Louisa e sua própria moral. É por isso que ela saiu Há uma citação literal em seus diários, onde ela escreve sobre essas lutas morais e sua amiga Emerson diz ei, você não precisa escrever nada que você não queira escrever e, assim como Jo no livro, Louisa se sente aliviada quando para. Você pode encontrar este jornal online. Você pode ler de graça. Todos esses roteiristas tiveram acesso para lê-lo ao longo de uma década.
Amor pela Filosofia (e filósofos)
Muitos estereótipos desnecessários foram feitos em relação ao personagem de Friedrich. Vou apontar alguns deles, em parte porque são realmente ridículos mas também porque mostram a longa jornada que temos para entender a visão de mundo de Louisa May Alcott. Em um estudo supostamente "feminista" que li, a autora apontou que Friedrich tendo Shakespeare, Milton, Platão e Homero, além de sua Bíblia alemã em sua estante de livros, representam a maneira como Jo agora é prisioneira do poder masculino. Aparentemente, se um personagem masculino fictício que por acaso é professor de filosofia tem livros sobre filosofia em sua estante que devem torná-lo um sexista.
A própria Louisa cresceu lendo livros e ensinamentos desses filósofos em particular. Platão foi na verdade um dos primeiros filósofos a falar sobre igualdade de gênero. Christine Doyle destaca que ao longo da série de livros o personagem de Friedrich representa os aspectos positivos da cultura alemã que os novos imigrantes incorporaram. Bem lido e bem educado - a estante de Friedrich contém volumes de Shakespeare, Milton, Platão e Homero, além de sua Bíblia alemã ele é, no entanto, notavelmente despretensioso, cerzindo as próprias meias, por exemplo.
Ele é profundamente religioso, defendendo a importância da religião na reunião de intelectuais, ele e Jo comparecem. Este é um detalhe particularmente importante uma vez que, ao contrário dos imigrantes alemães da classe trabalhadora, a intelectualidade alemã era altamente suspeita por sua "impiedade", e é na verdade contra os proponentes do intelectualismo de Kant e Hegel que Friedrich lança sua defesa da religião. Até mesmo os grandes apoiadores da literatura alemã, os transcendentalistas, às vezes achavam difícil chegar a um acordo com o que eles lêem como imoralidade e até ateísmo.
Laurie não tem crescimento
Quando Laurie começa a mexer com Jo no livro, Jo se sente muito desconfortável com isso. Ela diz não muitas vezes, mas ele não a escuta nem a respeita. No livro, Jo é uma personagem bem mais madura do que Laurie, mas nas adaptações recentes este não é o caso. No filme de Greta Gerwig, depois que Jo quase confessou a Marmee que está apaixonada por Friedrich o filme Jo de repente decide escrever Laurie e aceitar sua proposta. Isso não acontece no livro. Alguém pode argumentar que o final aberto é uma desculpa para não lidar com a solidão de Jo e maximizar os lucros do filme tentando agradar a todos. Quando Laurie pede Jo em casamento, ele diz que quer que Jo cuide dele e ele não quer que o Jo continue escrevendo quando o comportamento de Laurie se torna possessivo, é agora que Jo finalmente percebe como é para uma mulher quando alguém não respeita seus limites. Laurie sente culpa em Jo por muito tempo e ele zomba de Friedrich mesmo quando ele nunca o conheceu.
Esta é uma narrativa comum nos romances de Louisa May Alcott. Em Rose in Bloom, Charlie deseja se casar com Rose, por causa de seu dinheiro. Ele é muito parecido com Laurie, um campeão de quem todos gostam, mas também é muito sensível e foge para o jogo e o álcool. Rose eventualmente se apaixona por Mac, que é basicamente uma versão mais jovem de Friedrich escocês-americana. Em Work story of experience, o protagonista Christie é cortejado por um homem chamado Fletcher. Um homem feliz que gostaria de possuí-la e Christie se sente muito desconfortável com seu comportamento possessivo. Não havia campagns do tipo "metoo" no século XIX.
No verdadeiro estilo Alcottiano, esses homens estão todos perdoados. Laurie passa por um processo em que Amy desempenha um papel importante e graças a ela baixo nível de BS Laurie realmente melhora a si mesmo.Fletcher e Charlie não têm tanta sorte e em seus leitos de morte eles pedem desculpas ao protagonista.
Laurie nunca amou Jo. Ele estava procurando uma desculpa para manter o relacionamento como estava para que ele não tivesse que crescer ou assumir a responsabilidade por suas ações, mas Jo quer sair desse ciclo tóxico em que estão.
Arquétipos de Laurie e The Friedrich nos romances da Louisa May Alcott
Especialmente depois que ela voltou de Nova York e abriu seu coração para Friedrich. Vou ler para você uma citação do meu amigo Chelley e Chelley conhece os livros de Louisa May Alcott como seus próprios bolsos. Na minha opinião, Louisa May Alcott desenha muitas semelhanças entre personagens como Laurie, Charlie in Oito primos e Rose in Bloom, Tom em uma garota antiquada, Jack in Jack e Jill e Thorny sob os lilases. Todos criados em ambientes relativamente confortáveis. São bondosos, inteligentes e talentosos mas mais do que um pouco selvagens e indolentes, e são influenciados para o bem ou para o mal, principalmente por mulheres. No caso de Laurie, as Marchas são explicitamente referidas como uma influência positiva sobre ele, mas é Marmee, Jo e Amy
quem, em última análise, tem mais influência e cada um de seus relacionamentos com ele representa alguma versão de poder feminino semi-domesticado; mãe, irmã a amante. Apesar da importância declarada das duas primeiras influências no entanto, Laurie não está realmente inspirada para se aprimorar simplesmente para ser uma pessoa melhor enquanto cresce até que ele fale com Amy que, em vez de ser maternal ou expressar seus sentimentos, fala com ele honestamente e diz a ele, ele precisa crescer. Na questão principal de Rose in Bloom, Rose com Charlie é que Charlie espera que ela, a mulher, seja o anjo que o salva de si mesmo, o protege e ele fere repetidamente Rose, explorando seu coração bondoso natural e desejo de ajudar. Louisa poderia ter seguido o mesmo caminho com Nat e Daisy, Tommy e Nan e Even Jo e Laurie ou Laurie e Amy, mas em todos os outros casos, ela escreve uma história em que uma mulher pede para ter o mesmo respeito que deseja, e esperar que de seus parceiros de vida, e os homens se preparem e os encontrem em pé de igualdade ou perca.
Depois, há o arquétipo de Friedrich. Isso é Mac em Rose in Bloom, Friedrich em Little Women, John in Hosphithal Sketches, Adam in Moods, David in Work. O arquétipo de Friedrich, ele geralmente é mais velho e mais calmo, autossuficiente e mais fundamentado do que o arquétipo de Laurie. Há uma paixão silenciosa pelo protagonista. Desejo de estar em pé de igualdade com eles. A ideia de que o amor embeleza uma pessoa e que quando você está em um relacionamento com a pessoa certa vocês se inspiram para serem melhores. Esse é um tema muito comum nos romances de Louisa May Alcott.
No caso de Friedrich, ele quer ser digno de Jo. Ele se candidata a um emprego no oeste para poder sustentar Jo e seus sobrinhos. Nas sequências você pode ver claramente como Jo e Fritz se equilibram perfeitamente. O arquétipo de Friedrich é baseado principalmente em Henry Thoreau. Ele foi o grande amor da vida de Louisa. Havia uma amizade muito forte entre eles. Com Louisa e Henry, houve quase uma telepatia entendimento entre si. Aqui está outra citação de Chelley. A história de amor de Mac e Rose em Rose in Bloom, é uma das mais românticas alguns em todos os romances de Louisa May Alcott e muito disso depende dessa forma telepática de comunicação. São letras que meio que abrem uma janela de suas almas, um ao outro e eles se conectam em um nível intelectual que para eles aprofunda o amor. Paixão silenciosa é uma boa maneira de descrevê-la. Acho que a ideia de Louisa May Alcott modelar o interesse amoroso de sua heroína depois de homens que ela admirava na vida real é quase tragicamente engraçada porque enquanto ela está escrevendo algo e pensando aqui está o final feliz, nosso querido protagonista aprende lições de vida e encontra o amor e a felicidade futura com um companheiro que é digno e igual a ela, uma grande parte de seus leitores vai ”ela se casou com aquele cara por quê?” porque eles estão tendo problemas para olhar além da aparência externa e, infelizmente, acho que muitas pessoas hoje em dia ainda perdem seu ponto principal porque ficam tão presos a quem não acabou junto, que não entendem por quê as pessoas que acabaram juntas são as certas uma para a outra e como esse casamento baseado em amor e confiança e respeito e objetivos semelhantes foi tão radical por um tempo que enfatizou a estabilidade financeira e / ou a mobilidade ascendente sobre a felicidade pessoal.
O fato de Louisa May Alcott estar apaixonada por Henry Thoreau e que ela teve um caso com o jovem Wisniewski isso é de conhecimento comum. Você pode ler sobre isso em quase todas as biografias de Louisa May Alcott e online também. Por exemplo, a acadêmica de Alcott, Susan Bailey quem dirige Louisa May Alcott é o meu blog da paixão, ela escreveu muitos informativos, artigos baseados em fatos sobre a relação de Louisa com esses homens.
Amor e Sexo Em Mulherzinhas
Vou ler para você uma citação de Marlowe Dailey-Galeone. ”Alcott mostra mulheres encontrando seu próprio empoderamento e satisfação através de sua escrita, por meio de sua arte, por meio de seus relacionamentos com os outros. A forma como estruturam as atividades domésticas até mesmo no modo como pensam o casamento como uma parceria. Além disso, Alcott antecipa a discussão sobre o prazer e a realização das mulheres. Quando ensino mulheres pequenas, gosto de perguntar aos meus alunos se eles gostaram da cena de sexo. Esta é uma cena sutil, mas importante de intimidade e prazer depois que Meg e John conversarem sobre finanças, Alcott inclui cuidadosamente o momento em que Meg veste o casaco de John. O casaco que ele só consegue comprar porque ela devolve o vestido e eles têm dinheiro suficiente. Ela veste o casaco e dá as boas-vindas a ele. Meio atrevido. Podemos ter perdido isso. O que vem a seguir é um estado de coisas feliz, então ela, Louisa, é se envolver com a ideia de prazer. Mais uma vez, acho uma coisa boa para lembrar que em 1868 e 1869 Louisa May Alcott está pensando nisso.
Louisa May Alcott e a Família Transnacional
Louisa May Alcott era uma transcendentalista. O transcendentalismo foi um movimento filosófico e cristão americano. O transcendentalismo foi baseado nas idéias do filósofo alemão Immanuel Kant e sua ideologia sobre a família universal. A crença de que todas as nações podem aprender umas com as outras. Transcendentalistas eles levaram esta mensagem a seus corações. Se você sabe alguma coisa sobre os eventos e conflitos mundiais do século 19, os transcendentalistas eram considerados radica mas também estavam à frente de seu tempo. Familiarizar-se com outras culturas foi incentivado. Os imigrantes alemães foram amplamente discriminados. O transcendentalista os acolheu. O mais respeitado e valorizado literatura, poesia, peças e arte, todas vieram da Alemanha e toda a visão de mundo de Louisa era baseada na filosofia alemã. O filme de 2019 foi criticado por não incluir as ideias transcendentalistas e quando Greta Gerwig estava promovendo seu filme, ela fez várias declarações xenófobas sobre o personagem de Friedrich. Ele sendo alemão e falando com sotaque alemão e como Greta Gerwig achava repulsivo.
Todos esses comentários xenófobos não se alinham com a filosofia de Louisa sobre família transnacional e Greta Gerwig é descendente de imigrantes alemães. Algumas das críticas que tenho feito sobre Greta Gerwig é que ela reluta em ter minorias apresentadas em seus filmes. O que é muito lamentável. Quando Jo decide parar de escrever para o Weekly Volcano, ela faz uma descoberta notável. Como criadora, tudo o que ela escreve para seus romances tem uma influência boa ou ruim para seus leitores e ela pára para pensar em quanto dano ela fez escrevendo histórias que conflitavam com sua própria moral. Ela nem mesmo é bem paga por essas histórias. Friedrich ele representa a Louisa mais velha e toda sua visão de mundo transcendentalista. Ele lembra Jo quem ela é como pessoa e que ela tem um bom coração. Jo cresceu em uma família que sempre estava pronta para ajudar os necessitados e sua mãe levou Jo e suas irmãs com elas quando ela foi ajudar as famílias de imigrantes e o pai dela perdeu o emprego quando levou uma criança negra para a escola. Os Alcott eram abolicionistas e até escondiam escravos negros em casa. Louisa testemunhou em primeira mão pessoas sendo discriminadas por causa de sua etnia.
O amor embeleza uma pessoa
Gerwig também reclamou do visual de Friedrich e isso é o que a maioria das pessoas sente falta em Mulheres pequeninas. Katherine Hepburn e Paul Lukas do filme de 1933 provavelmente são os mais próximos de como os personagens foram escritos. O ponto principal da história é que o amor embeleza uma pessoa. Jo não foi escrita para ser bonita, mas ela acha Friedrich muito atraente e ele se sente atraído por ela Louisa também não era particularmente bonita. Mesmo seus fãs ficaram desapontados quando a viram. Há uma cena hilária nos meninos de Jo. Há um fã adulto que vem conhecer Jo Bhaer. Filho de Jo e Friedrich, ele aponta o retrato de sua mãe e esse fã é tipo ”oh não! Eu esperava que ela tivesse 15 anos, fosse bonita e tivesse rabo de porco. Acho que não quero vê-la agora, porque ela parece tão mundana ”. Laurie foi escrita para ser uma personagem convencionalmente bonita, mas suas ações sobre Jo são feias. Filmes são vendidos com gente bonita, mas eu ficaria mais preocupado com a maneira como os cineastas encobrem as falhas de Laurie. Por causa de sua aparência, às vezes Jo se sente uma aberração e não é digna de amor. Friedrich basicamente diz a Jo que não há problema em ser desajeitado e não convencional e ainda assim valer a pena ser amado.
Não há fotos restantes de Ladislas Wisniewski.
As fotos que uso são de domínio público.
Laurie da vida real
Louisa conheceu Ladislas ”Laddie” Wisniewski na Suíça quando ela trabalhava como companheira de uma mulher inválida chamada Anna Weld. Laddie era um compositor polonê s de 21 anos. Ele era muito charmoso e chamava Louisa de sua “mamãe pequena”. Ele tinha tuberculose e Louisa cuidou dele. Louisa era uma enfermeira treinada. Ele estava flertando com Louisa. Algo aconteceu entre Ladislas e Miss Weld. Eles começaram uma discussão. Alguns acreditam que ele tentou forçá-la a dormir com ele e outros dizem que ele a pediu em casamento. Existe uma história de Alcott chamada ”capricho de Anna”. Há um personagem que soa exatamente como Ladislas e ele propõe uma rica herdeira chamada Anna.
Portanto, talvez a ideia da proposta não seja tão rebuscada. Isso é o que Louisa escreve ”Anna preocupou-se com Menininho que estava em um estado de espírito desesperador. Não poderia aconselhá-los a serem tão felizes quanto desejavam. Então deu tudo errado e ambos preocupados ”. As marcações anteriores do diário sugerem que Menininho tinha namorado Louisa e até havia mencionado um possível futuro juntos. Louisa havia escrito que Anna Weld era “chorona, carente, tola e não ligava para Goethe”. O tom das marcações do diário de Louisa muda. Ela começa a simpatizar com Anna e fica mais desconfiada sobre Menininho. Quando Louisa escreve "não poderia aconselhá-los a serem felizes como desejavam?" o que ela quis dizer? Ladislas e Anna de repente se tornaram afetuosos um com o outro. É muito improvável porque logo Ladislau anunciou que estava indo embora. Imagine ser Louisa. Primeiro, esse jovem lindo está flertando com você o tempo todo e sendo romântico e então ele pede seu chefe em casamento. Louisa não era rica na época. Ela não era considerada particularmente bonita e Louisa tinha cerca de 32 anos quando isso aconteceu. Quando seu emprego acabou, ela foi para Paris e passou um dia com ele sem acompanhante, o que foi muito escandaloso e depois disso ela escreveu ao seu jornal muito censurado palavras “não podia ser”. Se vocês já leram o guia do filme de mulheres pequenas de 2019, Greta Gerwig escreveu “Jo e Laurie poderiam ser um ótimo casal se quisessem”. Bem, parece que Louisa não queria. Isso me lembra o que Emily disse em nosso podcast de Laurie. Quando Laurie estava propondo Jo, ele estava procurando alguém para cuidar dele. A biógrafa de Alcott, Harriet Reisen, aponta que talvez Ladislas fosse um vigarista que orava por mulheres ricas. Há coisas que sugerem que Wisniewski pode ter sido um vigarista. Louisa escreve em seu diário sobre sua “recuperação milagrosa da tuberculose”. A tuberculose matou milhões de pessoas e muito convenientemente, Ladislas é milagrosamente curado, pouco antes de ter esse conflito com a Srta. Weld. Não sei se ele era um vigarista ou não, mas acredito que ele pode ter confundido o cuidado de Louisa por ele com algo romântico e que ele queria que ela fosse babá dele, o que não é algo que você possa construir um relacionamento saudável e estou bastante convencido de que ele não estava no nível intelectual de Louisa e ela não podia confiar que ele apoiaria sua escrita.
Friedrich da vida real
Susan Cheever escreve na American Bloomsbury que todas as vezes que Alcott voltou para Concord, Louisa se pegava amando Henry mais e mais cada vez que eles voltavam. Louisa amava homens muito masculinos. Ela escreve em seus diários que adora soldados e uniformes. Ela escreve em seus diários que Henry é o homem perfeito e há uma citação em que ela compara Henry a Napoleão e seu amigo Emerson a Goethe. Em Little Women Friedrich é o despertar sexual de Jo.Ele foi escrito para ser mais masculino e mais maduro do que Laurie.
Ele tem barba, mãos grandes e voz grave. Jo narrador chega a dizer que Jo ama homens muito “viris”. Há algumas críticas sobre os caras magros e mais afeminados. Como Laurie e Nat. Nos meninos de Jo, há muitas cenas em que Jo e Friedrich se beijam e também tem uma cena em que eles estão se beijando. Eles estão prestes a fazer a sujeira e seus filhos entram e os interrompem. Estou realmente surpreso que Louisa se safou com isso. É muito justo dizer que Louisa queria alguém do seu lado que pudesse alimentar e estimular seu cérebro. Henry não era muito bonito, mas havia algo nele porque ele tinha algumas admiradoras mulheres em Concord. Louisa sentiu-se atraída por ele, mas o aspecto mais importante dessa relação eram os interesses semelhantes e a conexão intelectual que eles tinham e eles passaram muito tempo um-a-um juntos. Ela iria visitá-lo em sua cabana no lago de Walden. Eles faziam longas caminhadas pela natureza e ele frequentemente a levava para passeios de barco. Já disse isso antes e repito, a diferença de idade entre eles era a mesma de Jo e Friedrich, de 16 anos. Henry faleceu quando Louisa tinha 28 anos. O resto de sua vida com Ladislas e outros homens e mulheres que encontrou. Ela nunca os achou nem remotamente tão estimulantes intelectualmente quanto Henry. Em Little Women, Jo confessa a Friedrich que, ele é seu primeiro amor e, portanto, o melhor. Algo que achei muito interessante em minha pesquisa de Thoreau, era que Henry e toda a família Thoreau tinham a reputação de desprezar a fofoca e apoiar o individualismo. Isso é algo que Louisa admirava. Você pode ler em seus diários que Henry e Louisa muitas vezes se sentiam estranhos. Muito parecido com Jo e Friedrich, que estão conectados por seus sentimentos de exterioridade. A autocensura, ela acontece até nas Mulheres Pequenas.
A autocensura, ela acontece até nas Mulheres Pequenas. Isso levanta a questão de qual é a intenção do autor? No livro quando Amy queima o manuscrito de Jo, isso acontece porque Jo está intimidando Amy há semanas e ela está farta. Little Women é enquadrado no "processo de peregrinação". Uma história onde o protagonista aprende a superar seus maiores defeitos. Para Jo, sua maior falha é seu temperamento. Por que Louisa faria sua contraparte literal para enfrentar isso se não houvesse intenção? Ela é a criadora e quem controla a história? outra explicação é que Louisa está censurando sua própria escrita, porque quando Jo escreve a história novamente, ela se torna muito melhor. A segunda autocensura acontece com o Weekly Volcano. Como expliquei anteriormente, Louisa usou-se como exemplo, mas nunca admitiu isso. No último livro de Little Women,A rapaziada de Jo , quando Jo se torna uma escritora famosa, ela é totalmente contra quando seu sobrinho Demi começa a escrever histórias para uma revista. Jo não aprova. Quase como se Louisa estivesse ecoando sua própria história com sensacionalismo. Louisa começou a autocensurar seus diários quando Little Women se tornou um best-seller. Como escritora, ela foi anunciada como “a amiga de todas as crianças”. Também é importante destacar que no século 19 o sexo era um tabu. Houve momentos em que Louisa teve dificuldades com o formato do livro infantil porque ela preferia escrever temas adultos, especialmente após o falecimento de Louisa, os primeiros estudiosos de Alcott interpretaram literalmente tudo o que ela havia escrito, a maioria dessas pessoas não sabia que Louisa havia autocensurado seus próprios diários. Louisa não apenas escreveu sobre sua própria vida amorosa em Pequenas Mulheres, literalmente disfarçada, ela também escreveu sobre sua experiência ao escrever histórias sensacionais. Podemos até dizer que ela escreveu seus maiores segredos para o romance. Não é de admirar que ela tivesse sentimentos conflitantes sobre isso. Alguns de nós podem estar muito ansiosos para julgá-la por isso, a maneira como ela tentou se desligar das Pequenas Mulheres, mas na mulher do século 19 com uma boa reputação
Idealização da masculinidade
isso era muito mais valioso do que todo o dinheiro que possuíam. Há algo sobre o qual gostaria de falar. É o cerne do estudo das Pequenas Mulheres, do ponto de vista do gênero. Essa é a idealização do masculino. Em uma das marcações de seu diário, Louisa escreveu: “Sou uma adoradora de heróis por natureza”. Se eu citar um dos leitores do meu blog, “Jo estava se afogando na misoginia internalizada”. Jo coloca Laurie em um pedestal porque Laurie é um menino. Laurie faz o mesmo com Jo, porque ela é a primeira pessoa que presta atenção nele. Quando Laurie está pescando com Meg, Jo não vê nenhum problema em seu comportamento, e na verdade é por Laurie que Jo se sente mal, e isso deixou muitos leitores modernos, especialmente as leitoras, bastante chateados. O que sabemos sobre Louisa é que ela sempre preferiu a companhia masculina em vez de mulheres. Friedrich é idealizado por motivos completamente diferentes dos de Laurie. Ele é idealizado porque Jo está apaixonada por ele. Quando entramos no capítulo do namoro e guarda-chuva, os papéis estão invertidos entre Jo e Friedrich e agora é Friedrich que admira Jo abertamente. O modelo de masculinidade de Friedrich é diferente. Ele respeita os limites dela e não os ultrapassa, e só se move contra Jo quando tem o consentimento total de Jo.
Quando Friedrich propõe a Jo, ele dá a ela o título alemão de "Professora", o que não significa "esposa do professor", como foi traduzido para a minha versão finlandesa mais velha de Pequenas Mulheres é alemão e significa "professora" e com isso Friedrich reconhece a sede de conhecimento de Jo e a considera sua igual intelectual. Tanto no filme de 1994 quanto no de 2019, Jo e Friedrich se deram mal, mas no livro, eles se separam como amigos, ambos se perguntando se isso poderia levar a algo mais no futuro. ”Bem cedo ele estava na estação na manhã seguinte para se despedir de Jo e, graças a ele, ela iniciou sua jornada solitária com a agradável lembrança de um rosto familiar sorrindo em sua despedida, monte de violetas para lhe fazer companhia e o melhor de tudo, o pensamento feliz ”Bem, o inverno se foi e eu não escrevi nenhum livro, não ganhei nenhuma fortuna, mas eu fiz um amigo que vale a pena ter e vou tentar mantê-lo a vida toda ”. Jo e Fritz passaram os dois anos seguintes escrevendo cartas um para o outro. Cuidar de Beth força Jo a reavaliar sua vida.
O guarda-chuva, auto-identificação
Em seguida, entramos na terceira e mais importante parte do namoro do século XIX. Identificação de egos, reconhecimento mútuo um do outro. Que em Little Women é o guarda-chuva. O namoro costuma ser apressado nos filmes. Friedrich, de fato, visita as Marcas por duas semanas e durante todo esse tempo espera ver sinais de amor de Jo. “Pois um professor noturno ia e vinha com um amante como a regularidade”. Então ele ficou fora por três dias inteiros e não fez nenhum sinal para prosseguir, o que fez com que todos parecessem sóbrios e Jo pensativa no início, e depois, infelizmente, muito zangada ”. A ideia de perder Friedrich tornou-se petrificante. Ela vai até o bloco alemão para procurá-lo, mas ele não está em lugar nenhum. Começa a chover e Jo está prestes a cair no choro e então ele está lá.
“Sinto que conheço a senhora de mente forte que vai tão bravamente sob muitos narizes de cavalo e tão rápida em meio a tanta confusão.
"O que você faz aqui, meu amigo? ”
"Estou fazendo compras"
O Sr. Bhaer sorriu, enquanto olhava da fábrica de picles de um lado para o atacado de couro e cartas do outro,
mas para ela, ele apenas disse educadamente.
“Você não tem guarda-chuva, posso ir também e levar para você os fardos”.
As bochechas de Jo estavam vermelhas como uma fita, e ela se perguntou o que ele pensava dela mas ela não se importou em um minuto, ela se viu andando de braços dados com seu professor. Sentindo como se o sol tivesse explodido de repente com um brilho incomum que o mundo estava bem novamente e aquela mulher verdadeiramente feliz estava se aquecendo na chuva naquele dia. Jo não tem muitas experiências com homens, então faz sentido que ela seja bastante desajeitada e desajeitada perto dele.
Em uma versão anterior do roteiro do filme de Greta Gerwig, Jo puxou uma cadeira quando Fritz veio visitá-la e a consertou de maneira muito calma. Pelo menos eles incluíram a parte de Jo, colocando-se em chamas, e o espectador descobre que Friedrich era igualmente desajeitado. “Achamos que você tinha ido”, disse Jo apressada, pois sabia que ele a estava olhando. Bonnet não era grande o suficiente para esconder seu rosto e ela temia que ele pudesse pensar que a alegria disso era uma traição espontânea. Mais uma vez, Jo enrubesce e ela está muito ciente de sua presença.
A partilha da vida interior acontece ao tentar interpretar o tom, a voz e os gestos do outro. Quando Friedrich conta a ela sobre o novo emprego e que agora ele pode oferecer uma casa melhor para seus sobrinhos Jo é encorajado pelos clientes potenciais.
“Certamente você deveria. Como será esplêndido ter você fazendo o que gosta e poder ver você com frequência e os meninos ”
Disse Jo agarrando-se aos rapazes como desculpa para a satisfação. Ela não pôde deixar de trair.
“Ach, mas não nos encontraremos com frequência, temo, este lugar fica no oeste”.
“Tão longe” e Jo deixou suas saias à sua fé ”, como se não importasse agora o que acontecia com suas roupas, ou com ela mesma.
O Sr. Bhaer sabia ler várias línguas, mas ainda não tinha aprendido a ler as mulheres. Ele se gabou por conhecer Jo muito bem e, portanto, ficou muito surpreso com as contradições de voz, rosto e maneiras. Que ela mostrou a ele em rápida sucessão naquele dia. Pois ela estava em meia dúzia de estados de ânimo diferentes no decorrer de meia hora. Quando o conheceu, ela pareceu surpresa, embora fosse impossível não suspeitar que ela tinha vindo com esse propósito expresso. Quando ele lhe ofereceu o braço, ela o aceitou com um olhar que o encheu de alegria, mas quando ele perguntou se ela sentia sua falta, ela deu uma resposta formal tão fria que o desespero caiu sobre ele, mas, sabendo de sua boa sorte, ela quase bateu palmas.
A alegria era só para os meninos? Então, ao ouvir seu destino, ela disse "tão longe" em um tom de desespero que o elevou a um pináculo de esperança mas no minuto seguinte, ela o derrubou novamente, servindo como totalmente absorvente no assunto. O narrador aponta as dificuldades, do namoro mudo, a narração de amor. Como verbalizar por meio de pistas não verbais. Quando vão às compras, Jo é muito desajeitada e Friedrich começa a ver como Jo realmente vai por contradições. Na loja, ela esconde o rosto chorado em um xale.
“Isso combina com você, Sr. Bhaer?” Ela perguntou. Virando as costas para ele, sentindo-se profundamente grato pela chance de esconder o rosto. Na verdade, sempre achei essa cena muito íntima. Isso me dá algumas vibrações sérias de 1995 de Sense and Sensibility.
Reconhecimento mútuo um do outro
No momento seguinte, ela vasculha os contadores como um “caçador de pechinchas confirmado”.
O padrão de Jo é esconder vulnerabilidades em ação, mas Jo chegou a um ponto em que está pronta para derrubar todas as suas barreiras.
"Por enquanto o sol parecia ter sumido, tão repentinamente quanto saiu, e o mundo tornou-se enlameado e miserável novamente e pela primeira vez ela descobriu que seus pés estavam frios.
Sua cabeça doía e seu coração estava mais cheio de dor do que a escada. O Sr. Bhaer estava indo embora. Ele só se importava com ela como amiga. Foi tudo um engano, e quanto mais cedo melhor. Com essa ideia na cabeça, ela saudou um ônibus que se aproximava com um gesto tão apressado que as margaridas voaram para fora da panela e ficaram muito danificadas ”. É aqui que chegamos à culminação. O reconhecimento mútuo um do outro.
"Perdão. Eu não vi o nome claramente".
Não importa, eu posso andar. Estou acostumado a remar na lama. Jo devolveu piscando com força, pois ela teria morrido, ao invés de enxugar os olhos abertamente. O Sr. Bhaer viu as gotas em suas bochechas, embora ela desviasse a cabeça. A visão pareceu tocá-lo muito, pois, de repente, ele se abaixou e perguntou em um tom que significava muito.
"Corações queridos, por que você chora?"
Gostar de alguém é assustador. Os dois se gostam há muito tempo. Quando você traz alguém para sua vida pela primeira vez, é assustador porque você tem que admitir para si mesmo que está totalmente aberto. Dar um passo à frente, para dizer que você os ama, é como estar na beira de um precipício. Jo e Friedrich estão ambos parados naquele penhasco e, quando Jo se abre, Friedrich diz a ela que já caiu duro.
Agora, se Jo não fosse nova nesse tipo de coisa, ela teria dito, ela não estava chorando, estava com um resfriado na cabeça, contou qualquer outra mentira feminina apropriada para a ocasião. Em vez daquela criatura indigna respondeu com um soluço irresistível,
"Porque você está indo embora"
“Ach mein gott, isso é tão bom”, disse o Sr. Bhaer, então bateu palmas apesar do guarda-chuva e dos pacotes.
“Jo, eu não tenho nada além de muito amor para dar a você. Eu vim ver se você poderia cuidar disso, e esperei para ter certeza de que era algo mais do que um amigo".
Sou eu? Você pode fazer um pequeno lugar em seu coração para o velho Fritz? ele adicionou tudo de uma vez.
"Ai sim!" disse Jo, e ele ficou bastante satisfeito, antes que ela cruzasse as duas mãos sobre as dele e olhasse para ele com uma expressão que mostrava claramente o quão feliz ela seria de caminhar pela vida ao lado dele embora ela não tivesse abrigo melhor a não ser um velho guarda-chuva, se ele o carregasse.
Friedrich quer ficar de joelhos, mas eles estão no meio da rua, cobertos de lama. Isso torna difícil para que expressem seu amor olhando um para o outro e não se importem mais com o que está ao seu redor. Jo chama Friedrich pelo primeiro nome pela primeira vez.O que o encanta. Ele diz que sua irmã foi a última pessoa a chamá-lo de Friedrich.
Pobre homem, isso foi há cinco anos. Friedrich também chama Jo de Jo e não de Miss March. A conversa agora está aberta e terna. O amor de Louisa pela Alemanha continua quando Friedrich pede a Jo para usar a palavra ”tu” em vez do inglês “você”. Para aqueles de vocês que não falam alemão, existe ”Sie”, que é como você se dirige a outra pessoa formalmente. Depois, há "Du" que é informal e no contexto do século 19 muito íntimo. No inglês antigo, "tu" era a versão mais íntima de "você". Friedrich mostra a Jo o poema que o trouxe até ela. O poema se chama “no sótão” e Jo o escreveu após a morte de Beth, sentindo-se muito sozinha. Na maioria das adaptações, Friedrich trouxe para Jo seu novo livro. O poema mostra que Friedrich teve tempo para seguir a carreira de Jo.Quando Jo pergunta o que o manteve afastado por tanto tempo, descobrimos que ele está procurando um emprego para que ele pudesse fornecer um lar para Jo.
Isso destaca a autossuficiência de Friedrich, um valor que Jo aprecia. O capítulo termina na famosa linha “não está vazio agora”.
“Estou feliz que você seja pobre. Eu não suportaria um marido rico ”.
Disse Jo decididamente. Em seguida, adicionado em um tom mais suave.
“Não tema a pobreza. Eu sei disso há tempo suficiente para perder minha linha e ser feliz trabalhando para aqueles que amo e não se chame de velho. 40 é o início da vida. Não poderia deixar de te amar se você tivesse 70 anos!
O professor achou isso tão comovente que ficaria feliz com seu lenço. Como não podia Jo enxugou os olhos para ele e disse rindo, enquanto ela tirava um pacote ou dois. Posso ser obstinado, mas ninguém pode dizer que estou fora da minha esfera agora e carregando fardos. Devo levar minha parte, Friedrich, e ajudar a ganhar o lar. Decida-se ou nunca irei ”.
Ela acrescentou resolutamente enquanto ele tentava recuperar sua carga. "Ach, tu me dás tanta esperança e coragem, Não tenho nada a retribuir senão o coração cheio e as mãos vazias ”.
Avistou o professor bastante emocionado. Jo nunca aprenderia a ser adequada. Pois quando ele disse isso enquanto eles estavam nos degraus, ela colocou ambas as mãos em seu sussurro ternamente.
"Não está vazio agora" e inclinando-se beijou "seu Friedrich" sob o guarda-chuva.
Aqui está outra citação de Christine Doyle. ”Enquanto Meg e John são o casal pé no chão. Amy e Laurie são os românticos, os artistas. Jo e Friedrich combinam os dois. Uma das qualidades mais marcantes de Friedrich é que ele combina o heroísmo doméstico e o romântico ”.
A maior parte do namoro do século 19 impedia de cruzar a linha até o casamento, mas isso não significa necessariamente que todos os relacionamentos carecem de paixão. Lystra menciona que os casais de classe média a alta geralmente não se consumam fisicamente até o casamento. No entanto, durante o namoro sem acompanhamento, eles o fariam. Fontes primárias tendem a sugerir que durante o século 19 o sexo tornou-se vinculado ao amor sentimental, especialmente para as mulheres. Enquanto as mulheres deveriam ser puras por natureza, Lystra afirma que os vitorianos viam o sexual, o espiritual e o moral no conceito de amor verdadeiro.
Aqui está uma citação da fã das Little Women, Kymberly East:
No professor, Jo encontrou um candidato a um tipo de casamento que ela não considerava possível. Uma união entre duas pessoas onde a liberdade e a parceria se entrelaçam. Em tal relacionamento, ela não precisava sacrificar nada. Na verdade, ela foi capaz de realizar um sonho, que de outra forma poderia não ter sido capaz de realizar e em livros posteriores, ela tem sucesso como autora e também como um lar para meninos. Sua libertação foi concluída e nenhum sacrifício foi exigido dela ”
Obrigado por assistir. Confira o episódio que eu e Emily fizemos sobre o relacionamento de Jo e Friedrich. Fique bem e faça boas escolhas. Tchau.
Wide Wide World appeared around the time when Louisa May Alcott began to write Moods, one of her personal favourite novels which (once again) described her love for philosopher Henry Thoreau.
List of sources I have used in my studies:
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, Penguin Classics edition with Elaine Showalter´s introduction
Days of Henry Thoreau by Walter Harding
Self-Reliancy by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Little women 150 years edition
Little Men 150 years edition
Jo´s Boys 150 years edition
Jo marries Goethe, Dr Bhaer as Louisa May Alcott´s representation of the Goethean ideal in Little Women by Meghan Armknecht
Singing Mignon´s song, German Literature and Culture in March Trilogy by Christine Doyle
The Sorrows of young Werther by J.W.Goethe
Wilhelm Meister´s Apprenticeship by J.W. Goethe
The cosmopolitan project of Louisa May Alcott by Laura Dassow Walls
Wide Wide World by Susan Warner
Wedding Marches, Louisa May Alcott, Marriage and the Newness of Little Women by Daniel Shealy
Louisa May Alcott and the Transcendentalist Tradition by Roberta Pardi-Oláh
Louisa May Alcott, The woman behind little women by Harriet Reisen
Finding private Suhre: On the trail of Louisa May Alcott´s "Prince of patients" by John Matteson
Louisa May Alcott, her life, letters and journals by Ednah Cheney
Margaret Fuller, The Dial
Little Women 150/ Under the umbrella
Facts and Fiction in Little Women by Jamie Lynn Burgess
Thoreau, Alcott and the mythic west by Fred Erisman
Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
Rose in Bloom, Endings and Beginnings (Louisa May Alcott is my passion)
Getting to know the principal characters in moods (Louisa May Alcott is my passion)
Long fatal love chase by Louisa May Alcott
Moods by Louisa May Alcott
Work story of experience by Louisa May Alcott
"Fun forever?" Toys, Games and Plays in Louisa May Alcott´s Little Women by Anne. K. Phillips
19th century German immigration to America by Tina Marie Schrader
Contradictions Between Thought and Action as a Source of Tension in Louisa M. Alcott’s Little Women by Jane Mattisson
Louisa May Alcott and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Why Friedrich is better for Jo than Laurie is
"Little Women," Laurie, and the Argument for Racebent Casting
Highschool crush: On literary longing and mis-direct lust
Why Laurie and Jo don´t end up together
Not Just Passionlessness- Alternate Views of Sexuality in Victorian America By Kelsey Shober
Little Women official movie guide (published by Absram books 2020)
Jo March makes a choice by Kailey Rhone
Life lessons from Goethe by Adan Kirch, New Yorker, 2016 issue
Stella: A Play for Lovers (1776) (2018) English translation of Goethe's novel (Peter Land and Susan Gustafson)
Immortality, Milan Kundera, 1988
Did the real Amy March get together with the real life laurie letters between May Alcott and Alf Whitman (Louisa May Alcott is my passion)
J.W Goethe, Sorrows of young Werther, Finnish translation (nuoren Wertherin kärsimykset) Translation by Markku Mannila, otava, 1992
Goethe´s correspondence with a child, Bettina Von Armin, 1837
Goethe and Bettina (from Goethetc)
Little Women: Louisa May Alcott´s Views On Romantic Love (Umbrella Chapter Analyzed)
Three stages of 19th century courtship
Welcome to a deep dive in the world of Louisa may Alcott. Everything I share in these video essays is based on multiple studies made by Alcott scholars. You can find all the links from the description. To explore the development of Jo´s and Friedrich´s romantic relationship in the book I am going to use historian Karen Lystra´s studies from the 19th century romantic love and courtship as a comparison. There are three stages of 19th century courtship 1. Love comes by multitude of reasons 2. Shared looks enact mutual transaction of interior lives. This leads to identification of selves and mutual recognition of persons.
Jo´s sexual awakening
Jo spends quite a long time in New York, about 8 months. When she sees Friedrich for the first time she is immediately attracted to him. In fact, she checks him out multiple times during her stay at Mrs Kirk.
"When the parlor door opened and shut someone began to hum ”Kennst du das land” like a big bumblebee it was dreadfully improper I know, but I could´t resist the temptation and lifting one end of the curtain before the glass door I peeped in. Professor Bhaer was there and while he arranged his books, I took a good look at him. A regular German, rather stout, with brown hair stumbled all over his head, bushy beard, good nose, the kindest eyes I ever saw, and a splendid big voice that does one´s ears good after our sharp or slipshered American gabble. His clothes were rusty, his hands were large, and he hadn´t a really handsome feature in his face. Except his beautiful teeth yet I liked him. For he had a fine head, his linen was very nice and he looked like a gentleman".
Based on Jo´s first impression on Friedrich she seems to be completely enthralled by him. This is what Little Women fan Melodie Ellison has to say about Friedrich´s looks
”I think part of why people act like Friedrich is not attractive is because of the well known Louisa May Alcott quote about intentionally making a funny match for Jo. ”I wouldn´t be at all surprised if she didn´t quite mean that. Laurie was conventionally attractive. There are men in our current times, that fall in to the same category. Men like Zac Efron. For example if you were to ask me what i think of Zac Efron I´´ll tell you that he is handsome but I am not personally attracted to him. Like Jo I prefer my men bearded and a little stout but most importantly intelligent, hardworking and kind. I think folks who can´t accept an older less hot version of professor fail to understand his and Jo´s relationship. She respected him and he her and for her that was the ultimate sexiness”.
One of the biggest misconceptions about little women is that Jo is only based on Louisa. Louisa wrote Jo to be an idealized version of herself and there are elements in Jo that come from women who Louisa admired. I would argue that Louisa´s friend Elizabeth Powell was the true model for the 15 year old Jo. Based to the letter exchange between Elizabeth and Louisa, Elizabeth wasn´t too keen on the idea of marriage which is understandable since she was only 16. Elizabeth did fell in love and married 10 years later and it would seem that she continued being a model for Jo. First for Jo March and then for Jo Bhaer. Her life was still very similar to the book Jo.
Louisa was complete opposite. Louisa had a huge crush on her father´s best friend philosopher Waldo Emerson. Louisa wrote love letters to him but she never sent them and she used to sit under his window siniging Migon´s song. Mignon´s song is a song from Goethe´s novel, Wilhelm Meister´s apprenticeship. Which was one of Louisa´s favorite books. Emerson was one of the many models for Friedrich. Main model was philosopher Henry Thoreau who merited Louisa´s life long affection. When Jo meets Friedrich for the first time he is singing Mignon´s song.
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When Jo writes her letter home she says that the letter is rather ”bhaery” and that she is always interested from odd people. We can interpret this that Jo is fascinated by Friedrich´s eccentric-ism and this is where Jo finds her kindred spirit because all of her life she has considered herself as odd and not fitting.
One of the reasons why Jo´s and Laurie´s relationship, can never be a relationship between equals was that Laurie was looking for a mother figure in Jo, and Friedrich being older and more mature than Laurie is a paradox of that.
”I was in our parkour last evening and Mr. Bhaer came in. With some newspapers for Mrs. Kirk, she wasn´t there, but Minnie who is a little old woman, introduced me very prettily.
”This is Mama´s friend Miss March”
”Yes, and she is jolly and we like her lots” added Kitty, who is an ”enfant térrible”.
We both bowed and then we laughed, for the prim introduction and the blunt addition were a rather comical contrast.
Like their creator, Jo and Friedrich share their love for children. Already in the first novel, Jo escaped the female society and ran out to play with boys. In New York Jo is more interested from the doings of Franz and Emil, than her female-charges, Kitty and Minnie.
The more time Jo spends in New York, more attractive Friedrich becomes, both physically and intellectually.
When spring arrives, she makes notice on the ”pleasant curves around his mouth”, ”his eyes that were never cold or hard”, ”his big hands that had a warm, long grasp that was more expressive than words”.
Symposium / Mutual Interests
Before Jo goes to New York she has been quite frustrated from the way Laurie is not interested from his studies. Jo can not attend university because of her gender. Friedrich sees Jo as his intellectual equal. 1994 film captures the meeting of the minds perfectly. BPS series is so far the only adaptation that has included symposium, leaving the symposium. There is another reference to transcendentalism when Friedrich and Jo talk about Kant´s theories.
In the book Friedrich and Jo attend a symposium together. It is very important part in the books because the reader finds out that Jo´s and Friedrich´s morals go together. In the symposium Jo meets famous poets, writers and philosophers. Some who she has put on a pedestal but her opinions are about to change.
”Her reverence for genius received a severe shock that night and it took sometime for her to recover from the discovery that the great creatures were only men and women after all. Turning as from a fallen idol she made other discoveries which rapidly dispelled her romantic illusions. Imagine her dismay on stealing a glance of timid admiration at the poet who´s lines suggested ethereal being fed on spirit, fire and dew to behold him derringer his supper with an order which flushed his intellectual countenance.
Already in the first part of Little Women we find out that Jo doesn´t always enjoy the higher class social gatherings. Now that she is in the circles of writers, poets and intellectuals which is the world where she longs to be part of she is disappointed by her own illusions that she has created about that world.
”Before the evening was half over. Jo felt so dis-disillusioned that she sat down in a corner to recover herself. Mr Bhaer soon joined her looking rather out of his element and presently several of the philosophers each mounted on his hobby came baling up to hold an intellectual tournament in the recess.
Friedrich also seems to feel that he is in a wrong place. Jo becomes distressed when she is following the debate and one of the young philosophers puts intellect above god. After some hesitation Friedrich keeps his speech defending religion. Speech leaves an ever lasting impression on Jo and I would even argue that this is when Jo starts to realize that her feelings for Friedrich are more than friendship.
”She began to see that character is better possession than money, rank, intellect or beauty and feel that if greatness is what a wise man has to find it to be truth, reverence and good will, then her friend Friedrich Bhaer was not only good, but great”.
Jo´s journey as a writer (never in the films)
Little Women is a Bildungsroman. Bildungsroman is a literally genre that originates from Germany. English translation could be ”coming of age” novel.
The focus of a Bildungsroman is in the moral and psychological development of the character.
In movies and in all tv adaptations so far, scene where Fritz expressed his opinions about sensational literature has been turned into a conflict. I guess it is suppose to create more drama, but this is not the way things go in the book because Jo has already labelled her sensational writings as ”rubbish”.
Way before she even thinks of traveling to New York. She has assured herself that her intentions are good because she would use the money to help her family. This inner conflict that Jo has begins in chapter 27. Literally lessons.
In this chapter Jo attends to a lecture about pyramids. There she pumps into a young man who is reading a thrilling story written by Mrs Nordbury.
Jo is amused by the boys admiration of the ”trash” that is how Jo calls this type of literature which emphasizes her wish to detach herself from those stories. So Jo´s negative views towards sensational stories is clearly identified. When Jo hears how much Mrs Nordbury makes with her Stress and Thunder tales Jo begins to change her mind and soon starts to write them herself.
Stress and Thunder tales originate from Goethe. In German this genre is called ”Sturm und Drang”. It sounds way more cooler in German. Drang refers into deep emotional stress. Sturm und Drang was a movement in literature and music in late 18th century Germany and was largely influenced by Goethe´s writings and plays. There is a great emphasis on the faith of the individual and the movement was highly influenced by Shakespeare. Goethe´s Sturm und Drang plays were about very masculine Teutonic heroes which is probably what fascinated Louisa as an author. Jo´s first stories are poor attempts to capture the spirit of Sturm und Drang.
”Her story was full of desperation and despair as her limited acquaintance of those uncomfortable emotions enabled her to make it. Jo takes in consideration all the advice she gets from everyone around her instead of seeking advice from someone who could help her to improve as a writer. She goes against her own judgement when she knows that some of the advice she receives does not improve the story.
”So with Spartan firmness the young authoress laid her first-born on the table and chopped it up as ruthlessly as any ogre. In the hope of pleasing everyone she took everyone advice and like the old man and his donkey in the fable, it suited nobody. After submitting to bunch of magazines
Jo writes her first novel, which is a romance and it receives mixed reviews. Jo appreciates the feedback and learns from it.
”Her family and friends, administered, comfort and accommodation liberally, yet it was a hard time for sensitive high-spirited Jo, who meant so well and had apparently done so ill but it did her good, for those whose opinions had real value, gave her criticism which is author´s best education and when the first sourness was over, she could laugh at the poor little book, yet believe in it still, and feel herself yet wiser and stronger for the buffeting she had received”.
In chapter 34 when Jo enters to the publishing world in New York, she enters to the world that is male-dominated. Her sensational story is cut from third of it´s original length. Jo is frustrated the way Mr Dashwood wants to cut out all the morals away from the story and the morals are what Jo wishes to keep.
Eventually Jo agrees to these alternations to be made. Despite of her masculine shield, Jo is quite emotional internally even though she doesn´t like to show it and writing thrilling tales becomes distressing.
”She was living in a bad society, and imaginary thought it was, it´s influence effected, for she was feeding hard and fancy on dangerous and unsubstantial food and was fast brushing the innocent bloom from her nature, by a premature quittance of the darker side of life. Which comes soon enough to all of us.”
Fritz knows that Jo writes and he is curious about it but Jo is ashamed of her writings. She is adamant about using a pseudonym and she doesn´t tell anyone at home what she is doing and neither she has shown her stories to Fritz. Friedrich never criticisms Jo as a writer. He is criticizing the genre. Friedrich is honest.
He wants Jo to take herself seriously as a writer. The book Jo does not shout or argue with Fritz, unlike the movie Jo does because Friedrich expresses what Jo has been thinking all long.
As a result Jo burns her trashy novels, then the book Jo tries to write for children. It doesn´t feel right. Then she writes stories that only has moralities, that doesn´t feel right either. She jumps from one literal genre to another. Experimenting.
Friedrich does turn out to be a friend. He encourages Jo to study real-life people so she can develop her characters, and as a Christmas gift, he gives her a set of Shakespeare´s novels. Goethe, Louisa´s idol, would have had similar thoughts towards sensational stories that Friedrich had. Here is a quote from Megan Armknecht who has done some extensive research between Friedrich´s character and Goethe.
”Bhaer is trying to help Jo to become a genuine writer, instead of one who catered, to the whips of the crowd. This is something Goethe would have done. He disliked superficiality in people and in art and was through life frequently offended by the shallow pretensions, the false aims, writers who because they had some poetic sensibility and some gift of expression”.
Louisa credited Goethe being the one author who has thought me the most about creating and understanding characters. In the 1994 film Jo argues with Friedrich about her writings. Film kind of portrays Jo as an ultra-feminist when Jo says that too bad her writings are not good enough for Friedrich´s high morals, this is complete opposite to the book Jo, because book Jo and Friedrich, they have always shared the same morals. Some viewers of the 1994 film, have taken Jo´s side on the argument probably because of it´s ultra-feminism.
Here is a quote from a person who joined #teambhaer after becoming familiar with Friedrich for the first time through Greta Gerwig´s film and they got inspired to read the book.
”Never read or watched Little Women before this but I am so phenomenally found of Friedrich, just in general. But this is coming from someone who watched the 2019 film first and had no context prior to this. As a writer cinema-savy person, I was made aware of Gerwig´s cinematic parallelism of the past and the present during my watch and I could tell that there must have been something taken out of the equation. As a means to balance out Gerwig´s vision. Yet I took fondly of the man who was basically void of existence mid-movie barely on the fact that Gerwig´s method of narrative essential ism still had me appreciate his weight. In the same 2019 Jo summarized the entirety of her loneliness in a single sweep, as I later found out, she dedicated an entire chapter to such somber chills. I found that Friedrich´s clean sweep came down to lines that could be easily over-looked if one came from acting instead of script. ”But do you have anyone to take you seriously?”
To talk about your work, he was essentially the one meant to simply see her. That in a single line Greta Gerwig had essentialised his character. This correlates with the book Fritz.
”Now Mr Bhaer was a different man and slow to offer his opinions. Not because they were unsettled, but too sincere and earnest to be lightly spoken, as he glanced from Jo to several other young people attracted by the brilliancy of the philosophic pyrotechnics. He knit his brows and longed to speak fearing that some inflammable, young soul would be let astray by the rockets to find when the display was over”. Of course as I actually admitted it 2019 Friedrich, was my first version of Friedrich and he still managed to catch my attention, for all he was worth. It was nice reading book 2 and finding out that Alcott wrote him as a worthy addition, rather than a cop-out, as I´ve had the misfortune, to read criticism as of late, that I was shocked at all that anyone would argue otherwise".
This makes me wonder why Greta has spend so much time and energy bashing the book Friedrich while promoting her film. With just that simple line he is established as someone worthy of Jo´s love, Gerwig´s film has it´s focus how much Jo has discomforts with change, and the feedback scene doesn´t promote the ultra-feminism but Jo comes out more childish. She yells she never speaks to him again and it is not something that the book Jo would do. In the pbs series Friedrich actually yells at Jo. That is not something that the book Friedrich does.
Friedrich wasn´t biased to Jo when it came to his feelings, he knew she could do more and wanted her to be as good as she wanted to be. He sees her as an equal, as a woman with true heart and soul, a woman with talent. He isn’t easy on her but neither is he cruel to her when it comes to her writing. I think ultimately she appreciates that Friedrich never softened the blow but always treated her as someone who’s ideas and thoughts were meant to be listened to.
Here is another quote from chapter 27 literary lessons:
"that's just it. I've been fussing over the thing so long, I really don't know whether it's good, bad, or indifferent. It will be a great help to have cool, impartial persons take a look at it, and tell me what they think of it."
The whole chapter is about how Jo learns to define her craft from the feedback she receives, way before she meets Friedrich, and it foreshadows the arrival of Friedrich´s character. There is a longing to find a person who can not only give her constructive criticism but also encourage her to explore her capacity as a story teller. The 2018 film did pretty good job by making Bhaer Jo´s editor and a professor of literature, and so far it is only film where Jo listens and embraces the feedback she receives same way as the book Jo does.
Here is a quote from Edna Cheney who was one of the first Louisa May Alcott biographers
Louisa was always a creature of moods; and it was a great relief to work off certain feelings by the safe vent of imaginary persons and scenes in a story. She had no one to guide or criticize her; and the fact that these gambols of fancy brought the much-needed money, and were, as she truly called them, "pot boilers," certainly did not discourage her from indulging in them. She is probably right in calling most of them "trash and rubbish," for she was yet an unformed girl, and had not studied herself or life very deeply.
Pressure and mental health problems caused by Weekly Volcano
When I was doing this research I actually came appalled when I realized that the scene in Little Women where Jo is having a mental breakdown because of the stories that she has to write to weekly volcano, that is never in the films.
When Louisa was in her early twenties she wrote into a New York news paper called Frank Lesley´s weekly illustrated newspaper. Weekly Volcano is a caricature of that newspaper. We tend to have quite one-dimensional way of thinking what it comes to historical people because historical people had morals. Just like we have morals. Louisa was writing for money and writing for money it came with mental health problems. She had to look up things that made her feel uncomfortable. They had stories of men abusing women and some of the stories were racist and sexist. These things contradicted with Louisa and her own morals.
Which is why she quit. There is a literal quote in her journals where she writes about these moral struggles and her friend Emerson says hey you don´t need to write anything you don´t want to write and just like Jo in the book Louisa feels relieved when she stops. You can find this journal online. You can read it for free. All these script writers they have had access to read it over a decade.
Love for philosophy (and philosophers)
There has been lots of unnecessary stereotyping made towards Friedrich´s character. I will point out some of them, partly because they are truly ridiculous but also because they show how long journey we have to understand Louisa May Alcott´s world view.
In one supposedly "feminist" study that I read, the author pointed out that Bhaer having Shakespeare, Milton, Plato and Homer in addition to his German Bible in his bookshelf represent the way Jo is now a captive of the male power. Apparently if a fictional male character who happens to be a teacher of philosophy has books about philosophy in his bookshelf that must make him a sexist.
Louisa herself grew up reading books and teachings of these particular philosophers. Plato was actually one of the first philosophers who talked about gender equality.
Christine Doyle points out that throughout the book series Friedrich´s character represents the positive aspects of the German culture that the new immigrants embodied.
Well-read and well educated—Friedrich´s shelf contains volumes of Shakespeare, Milton, Plato, and Homer in addition to his German Bible—he is nevertheless remarkably unpretentious, darning his own socks, for example. at the gathering He is deeply religious, standing up for the importance of religion of intellectuals he and Jo attend. This is a particularly important detail since, unlike the working-class German immigrants, the German intelligentsia were highly suspect for their “godlessness,” and it is actually against proponents of Kant’s and Hegel’s intellectualism that Friedrich launches his defense of religion. Even the great supporters of German literature, the Transcendentalists, sometimes found it difficult to come to terms with what they read as immorality and even atheism
Movie Laurie´s missing arc
When Laurie starts to make his moves on Jo the book Jo feels very uncomfortable by that. She says no many times, but he doesn´t listen or respect her. In the book Jo is way more mature character than Laurie is but in the recent adaptations this is not the case.
In Greta Gerwig´s film after Jo has nearly confessed to Marmee that she is in love with Friedrich the film Jo suddenly decides to write Laurie and accept his proposal. One might argue that the open ending is a cop- out not to handle Jo´s loneliness and maximize the profits of the film by trying to please This does not happen in the book. everyone.
When Laurie proposes to Jo he says he wants Jo to take care of him and he doesn´t want Jo to continue writing when Laurie´s behavior becomes possessive it is now that Jo finally realizes what it feels like for a woman when someone does not respect your boundaries. Laurie guilt-trips Jo for a very long time and he makes fun of Friedrich even when he has never met him.
This is a common narrative in Louisa May Alcott´s novels. In Rose in Bloom Charlie wishes to marry Rose, because of her money. He is a lot like Laurie, a champ who everyone likes but he is also very sensitive and escapes himself to gambling and alcohol. Rose eventually falls for Mac who is basically a younger Scottish-American version of Friedrich.
In Work story of experience the protagonist Christie is courted by a man called Fletcher. A wealthy man who would like to own her and Christie feels very uncomfortable by his possessive behavior. There was no me-too campaigns in the 19th century. In true Alcottian style these men are all forgiven. Laurie goes through a process in which Amy plays an important part and thanks to her low bs level Laurie actually improves himself. Fletcher and Charlie are not so lucky and in their death beds they apologize to the protagonist. Laurie was never in love with Jo. He was looking for an excuse to keep their relationship as it was so that he would not have to grow or to take responsibility of his actions, but Jo wants to leave that toxic cycle they are in. Especially after she has returned from New York and opened her heart for Friedrich.
Laurie and the Friedrich archetypes in LMA´s novels
I am going to read you a quote from my friend Chelley and Chelley knows Louisa May Alcott´s books like their own pockets. "
"In my opinion Louisa May Alcott draws a lot deliberate similarities between characters like Laurie, Charlie in Eight cousins and Rose in Bloom, Tom in an old fashioned girl, Jack in Jack and Jill and Thorny in under the lilacs. All of whom are raised in relatively comfortable settings. Are kind hearten and clever, and talented but more than a little wild, and indolent, and are influenced whether for good or evil, most heavily by women. In Laurie´s case the Marches are explicitly referred to as a positive influence over him, but it´s Marmee, Jo and Amy who ultimately hold the most sway and each of their relationships with him represents some version of semi-domesticated feminine power; mother, sister the lover. Despite the stated importance of the first two influences however Laurie isn´t really inspired to better himself simply for the sake of being a better person growing up until he talks to Amy who instead of mothering him or spearing his feelings speaks to him honestly and tells him, he needs to grow up.
In Rose in Bloom Rose´s primary issue with Charlie is that Charlie is expecting her, the woman, to be the angel who saves him from himself, keeps him from harm and he repeatedly wounds Rose, by exploring her natural kind heart and desire to help. Louisa could have gone down that same route with Nat and Daisy, Tommy and Nan and Even Jo and Laurie or Laurie and Amy, but in all those other cases, she writes a story where woman requests to be afford the same respect they want, and expect that from their life partners, an d the men either shape up and meet them on equal footing or miss out".
Then there is the Friedrich archetype. That is Mac in Rose in Bloom, Friedrich in Little Women, John in Hospital Sketches, Adam in Moods, David in Work. The Friedrich archetype, he is usually older and more calm, self-reliant and more grounded than the Laurie archetype. There is silent passion for the protagonist. Desire to be on equal grounding with them. The idea that love beautifies a person and that when you are in a relationship with a right person you inspire each others to be better. This is a very common theme in Louisa May Alcott´s novels. In Friedrich´s case, he wants to be worthy of Jo. He applies to a job in the west so he can provide both for Jo and his nephews. In the equals you can very clearly see how well Jo and Fritz perfectly balance each others.
The Friedrich archetype is mainly based on Henry Thoreau. He was the great love of Louisa´s life. There was a very strong friendship between them. With Louisa and Henry there was almost a telepathic understanding between one another. Here is another quote from Chelley,
The love story of Mac and Rose in Rose in Bloom, is one of the most romantic ones in all of Louisa May Alcott novels and a lot of that hinges on that telepathic form of communication. It letters that sort of opens a window to their souls, to each other and they connect on an intellectual level that to them deepens the love. Silent passion is good way to describe it. I think the idea of Louisa May Alcott modeling her heroine´s love interest after men she admired in real life is almost tragically funny because while she is writing something and thinking here is the happy ending, our beloved protagonist learns life lessons and finds love and future happiness with a mate who is worthy and equal to her, a large portion of her readership is going ”she married that guy why?” because they are having trouble looking past the outward appearance and unfortunately I think a lot of people now days still miss her main point because they get so hanged up on who didn´t end up together, that they fail to see why the people who did end up together are right for each other and how that marriage based on love and trust and respect and similar goals was so radical for a time that emphasized financial stability and or upward mobility over personal happiness".
Love and Sex in Little Women
The fact that Louisa May Alcott was in love with Henry Thoreau and that she had a fling with young Wisniewski this is common knowledge. You can read about it from pretty much every single Louisa May Alcott biography and from online as well. For example Alcott scholar Susan Bailey who runs Louisa May Alcott is my passion blog, she has written tons of informative, fact-based articles on Louisa´s relationship with these men.
I am going to read you a quote from Marlowe Dailey-Galeone
”Alcott shows women finding their own empowerment and satisfaction through their writing, through their art, through their relationships with others. The way their structure domestic activities even in the way they are thinking about marriage as a partnership. Also Alcott anticipates discussion on women´s pleasure and fulfillment. When I teach little women I like to ask my students if they enjoyed the sex scene? This is a subtle but important scene of intimacy and pleasure after Meg and John have a discussion about finances, Alcott carefully includes a moment when Meg puts on John´s coat. The coat that he is only able to buy because she returns the dress and they have enough money. She puts on the coat, welcomes him home. Kinda racy. We might have missed it. What comes next is a blissful state of things, so she, Louisa, is engaging with the idea of pleasure. Again I think a nice thing to remember that in 1868 and 1869 Louisa May Alcott is thinking about this.
Louisa May Alcott and transnational family
Louisa May Alcott was a transcendentalist. Transcendentalism was a philosophical and Christian movement. Transcendentalism was based to the ideas of German philosopher Immanuel Kant and his ideology about the universal family. Belief that all nations can learn from one another. Transcendentalists they took this message to their hearts. If you know anything about 19th century world events and conflicts the transcendentalist were seen radical but they were also a head of their time. Getting familiar with other cultures was encouraged. The German immigrants were widely discriminated. Transcendentalist welcomed them. The most respected and valued literature, poetry and plays and art all came from Germany and Louisa´s whole world view was based on German philosophy.
The 2019 film has been criticized for not including the transcendentalist ideas and when Greta Gerwig was promoting her film, she made tons of xenophobic statements on Friedrich´s character. Him being German and him speaking with a German accent and how Greta Gerwig thought it was repulsive. All these xenophobic comments they don´t align with Louisa´s philosophy about transnational family and Greta Gerwig is a descendant of German immigrants herself. Some of the criticism what I have come across about Greta Gerwig is that she is reluctant to have minorities presented in her films. Which is very unfortunate.
When Jo decides to stop writing to the Weekly Volcano, she makes a remarkable realization. As a creator everything that she writes to her novels has either a good or a bad influence to her readership and she stops to think how much damage she has done by writing stories that conflicted with her own morals. She is not even paid well for those stories. Friedrich he represents the older Louisa and her whole transcendentalist world view. He reminds Jo who she is as a person and that she has a good heart. Jo grew up in a family that was always ready to help those in need and her mother took Jo and her sisters with them when she went to help the immigrant families and her father lost his job when he took a black child to his school. The Alcott´s were abolitionist and even hid black slaves at their home. Louisa had first hand witnessed people being discriminated because of their ethnicity.
Love beautifies a person
Gerwig also complained about Friedrich´s looks and this is the one thing that most people miss in Little Women. Katherine Hepburn and Paul Lukas from the 1933 film probably are closest to what the characters are written to look like. The whole point of the story is that love beautifies a person. Jo is not written to be beautiful but she finds Friedrich very attractive and he is attracted to her. Louisa was not particularly beautiful either. Even her fans were disappointed when they saw her. There is a hilarious scene in Jo´s boys. There is an adult fan who comes to meet Jo Bhaer. Jo´s and Friedrich´s son, he points out the portrait of his mother and this fan is like ”oh no! I expected her to be 15 and pretty and having pig tails. I don´t think I want to see her now, because she looks so mundane”. Laurie is written to be conventionally good looking character, but his actions over Jo are ugly. Films are sold with beautiful people, but I would be more worried about the way the film makers gloss over Laurie´s flaws.
Because of her looks, sometimes Jo feels herself as a freak and that she is not worthy of love. Friedrich basically tells to Jo that it is okay to be clumsy and unconventional and still be worth of loving.
Real life Laurie
Louisa met Ladislas ”Laddie” Wisniewski in Switzerland when she was working as a companion for an invalid woman called Anna Weld. Laddie was a 21 year old composer from Poland. He was very charming and he called Louisa his ”little mama”. He had tuberculosis and Louisa nursed him. Louisa was a trained nurse. He was flirting with Louisa. Something happened between Ladislas and Miss Weld. They got into an argument. Some believe that he tried to force her to sleep with him and others say that he proposed to her. There is an Alcott story called ”Anna´s whim”. There is a character who sounds just like Ladislas and he proposes a rich heiress called Anna. So maybe the proposal idea is not so far fetched.
This is what Louisa writes ”Anna troubled about Laddie who was in a despairing state of mind. I could not advice them to be happy as they desired. So everything went wrong and both worried”.
Previous diary markings suggest that Laddie had been flirtatious with Louisa and had even mentioned possible future together. Louisa had written that Anna Weld was ”whiny, needy, foolish, and didn´t have a glue about Goethe”. The tone of Louisa´s diary markings change. She begins to sympathize Anna and becomes more suspicious about Laddie. When Louisa writes ”could not advice them to be happy as they desired?” what does she mean? did Ladislas and Anna had suddenly become affectionate with one another. It is very unlikely because quite soon Ladislas announced that he was leaving. Imagine being Louisa. First this handsome young guy is flirting with you all the time and being romantic and then he proposes to your boss. Louisa was not rich at the time. She was not considered particularly beautiful and Louisa was about 32 when this happened. When her employment ended she went to Paris and spent a day with him without a chaperone, which was very scandalous and after that she wrote to her very censored journal words ”couldn´t be”.
If you guys have read little women 2019 film guide Greta Gerwig writes ”Jo and Laurie could be a great couple if they would like to be”. Well, it does seem that Louisa did not want it. This reminds me what Emily said in our Laurie podcast. When Laurie was proposing Jo, he was looking for someone to nanny him. Alcott biographer Harriet Reisen points out that perhaps Ladislas was a conman who prayed on wealthy women. There are things that suggest that Wisniewski might have been a conman. Louisa writes in her journal about his ”miraculous recovery from tuberculosis”. Tuberculosis killed millions of people and very conveniently, Ladislas is miraculously healed, just before he has this conflict with Miss Weld.
I don´t know if he was a conman or not but I do believe that he might have mistaken Louisa´s care for him as something romantic and that he did want her to nanny him, which is not something that you can build a healthy relationship on and I am pretty convinced that he was not on Louisa´s intellectual level and she could not rely on him being supportive on her writing.
Real life Friedrich
Susan Cheever writes in American Bloomsbury that every-time when Alcott´s moved back to Concord, Louisa would find herself loving Henry more and more every time when they returned. Louisa loved very masculine men. She writes in her journals that she loves soldiers and uniforms. She writes in her journals that Henry is the perfect man and there is a quote where she compares Henry to Napoleon and her friend Emerson to Goethe. In Little Women Friedrich is Jo´s sexual awakening. He is written to be more masculine and more mature than Laurie. He has a beard, big hands, deep voice. In Little Men the narrator even says that Jo loves very ”manly” men. There is some criticism over guys who are thin and more effeminate. Like Laurie and Nat. In Jo´s boys there actually quite many scenes where Jo and Friedrich are kissing and there is also a scene where they are making out. They are about to do the dirty and their sons come in and interrupt them. I am actually surprised that Louisa got away with that.
It is pretty fair to say that Louisa wanted someone on her side who could feed and stimulate her brain. Henry wasn´t a great looker but there was something about him because he had quite a few female admirers in Concord. Louisa was attracted to him but the most important aspect of that relationship was their similar interests and the intellectual connection that they had and they did spent a lot of one-on-one time together. She would visit him at his hut at the Walden´s pond. They took long nature walks, and he would often take her to boat trips. I have said this before and I say it again, the age difference between them was the same as between Jo and Friedrich, 16 years.
Henry passed away when Louisa was 27. Rest of her life with Ladislas, and other men and women who she encountered. She never found them to be even remotely as intellectually stimulating as Henry was. In Little Women Jo confesses to Friedrich that, he is her first love, and therefore the best.
Something I found very interesting in my Thoreau research, was that Henry and the whole Thoreau family, they had reputation that they despised gossip and supported individualism. This is something that Louisa admired. You can read from their journals that both Henry and Louisa often felt themselves as outsiders. Very similar to Jo and Friedrich who are connected by their feelings of outsiderness.
The self-censoring, it happens even in Little Women. It raises the question what is the intention of the author? In the book when Amy burns Jo´s manuscript it happens because Jo has been bullying Amy for weeks and she has had enough. Little Women is framed against Pilgrim´s process. A story where the protagonist learns to overcome their biggest flaws. For Jo her biggest flaw is her temper. Why would Louisa make her literal counterpart to face that if there was no intention? She is the creator and the one who controls the story? another explanation is that Louisa is censoring her own writing, because when Jo writes the story again, it becomes a lot better.
Second self censoring happens with Weekly Volcano. As I explained earlier Louisa used herself as an example but never admitted that. In the last Little Women book, Jo´s boys, when Jo has become a famous writer, she is very much against when her nephew Demi begins to write stories for a magazine. Jo does not approve. Almost like Louisa is echoing her own history with sensationalism.
Louisa began to self-censor her diaries when Little Women became a best-seller. As a writer she was marketed as ”the friend of all children”. It is also important to point out that in the 19th century sex was a taboo. There was times when Louisa struggled with the children book format because she preferred to write adult themes, especially after Louisa´s passing, the early Alcott scholars took everything that she had written literally, most of these people were completely unaware that Louisa had self-censored her own journals. Not only did Louisa write about her own love life in Little Women in literal disguise, she also wrote about her experience writing the sensational stories. We might even say that she wrote her biggest secrets to the novel. It is no wonder that she had very conflicted feelings about it. Some of us might be very eager to judge her for this, the way she tried to detach herself away from Little Women, but in the 19th century woman having a good reputation, that was a lot more valuable than all the money that they owned.
The idealization of masculinity
There is something that I would like to talk about. It is the heart core of studying Little Women, from the perspective of gender. That is the idealization of the masculine. In one of her journal markings Louisa has written ”I am a hero worshiper by nature”. If I quote one of my blog readers ”Jo was drowning into internalized misogyny”. Jo puts Laurie to a pedestal because Laurie is a boy. Laurie does the same to Jo, because she is the first person, who pays any attention to him. When Laurie is cat fishing Meg, Jo doesn´t see any problems in his behavior, and it´s actually Laurie who Jo feels bad for, and this has made many modern readers, female readers especially, quite upset. What we know about Louisa is that, she always preferred the male company rather than women. Friedrich is idealized for complete different reasons than Laurie. He is idealized because Jo is in love with him. When we get into the courting and the umbrella chapter, the roles are reversed between Jo and Friedrich and it is now Friedrich who openly admires Jo. Friedrich´s model of masculinity is different. He respects her boundaries and does not over-step them, and only makes his moves on Jo when he has Jo´s full consent. When Friedrich proposes to Jo he gives her German title ”Professorin”, which does not mean ”professors little wife” like it was translated into my older Finnish version of Little Women, it is German and means ”female professor” and by doing that Friedrich acknowledges Jo´s thirst for knowledge and considers her as his intellectual equal.
In both 1994 film and 2019 film Jo and Friedrich part in bad terms, but in the book they part as friends both wondering if it could lead into something more in the future.
”Early as it was he was at the station next morning to see Jo off and thanks to him, she began her solitary journey with the pleasant memory of a familiar face smiling it´s farewell, bunch of violets to keep her company and bets of all the happy thought ”well, the winter is gone and I´ve written no books, earned no fortune, but I´v made a friend worth having and I´ll try to keep him all my life”. Jo and Fritz spent the next two years writing letters to each others. Taking care of Beth forces Jo to re-evaluate her life. After Beth´s passing she goes through a period of depression, grief and loneliness. In the book right after Beth´s death, Laurie sends Jo a letter from Europe and proposes her again. This happens the moment when Laurie has realized he has feelings for Amy. Jo sends him a polite answer and refuses again. Laurie´s second proposal has never been adapted.
In the book shared looks continue when Friedrich comes courting.
”Though a very social man, I think Mr Bhaer would have gone decorously away and come again another day. How could he when Jo shut the door behind him and bereft him of his hat. Perhaps her face had something to do with it for she forgot to hide her joy at seeing him and showed it with a frankness that proved irresistible to the solitary man who´s welcome far exceeded his boldest hopes. Stealthy glance now and then refreshed her like sips of fresh water after a dusty walk. For the side-long peeps showed her propitious omens. Mr Bhaer´s face had lost the absent minded expression and looked all live with interest in the present moment, actually young and handsome, she thought”.
The Umbrella, Identification of selves
Shared looks were a big part of courting. When Jo comes to the realization that Friedrich has truly come to court her, Jo flushes. She becomes fully self-aware and she is quite pleased and thrilled by the idea.
Then we get into the third and the most important part of 19th century courtship. Identification of selves, mutual recognition of one another. Which in Little Women is the umbrella. Courting is usually rushed in the films. Friedrich in fact, visits the Marches for two weeks and during all this time he is hoping to see signs of love from Jo.
”For a forth-night professor came and went with a lover like regularity”. Then he stayed away for three whole days and made no signs for proceeding, which caused everybody to look sober and Jo to become pensive at first, and then alas for romance, very cross”.
The idea of loosing Friedrich has become petrifying. She goes to the German block to look for him, but he is nowhere to be found. It starts to rain and Jo is ready to burst into tears and then he is there.
”I feel to know the strong minded lady who goes so bravely under many horse-noses and so fast through much muss. What do you do down here my friend?”
Mr Bhaer smiled, as he glanced from the pickle factory on one side to the wholesale hide and letter concern on the other, but to her, he only said politely.
”You have no umbrella, may I go also and take for you the bundles”.
”Yes, thank you”.
Jo´s cheeks were as red as a ribbon, and she wondered what he thought of her but she didn´t care for in a minute, she found herself walking away arm in arm with her professor. Feeling as if the sun had suddenly burst out with uncommon brilliancy that the world was alright again and that one truly happy woman was basking through the wet that day.
Jo doesn´t have lots of experiences with men, so it makes sense that she is quite clumsy and awkward around him. In an earlier version of the script of Greta Gerwig´s film, Jo actually pulled down a chair when Fritz came to visit and and he fixed it in a very calm manner. At least they included the part of Jo, setting herself on fire, and the viewer finds out that Friedrich was just as clumsy.
”We thought you had gone” said Jo hasty, for she knew he was looking at her. Bonnet wasn´t big enough to hide her face and she feared he might think the joy of it betrayed unmaidenly.
Once again Jo flushes and she is very aware of his presence. The sharing of the interior lives happens while trying interpret the other persons tone and voice and gestures.
When Friedrich tells her about the new job and that he can now provide a better home for his nephews Jo is encouraged by the prospects.
”Indeed you should. How splendid it will be to have you doing what you like and be able to see you often and the boys” said Jo clinging to the lads as an excuse for the satisfaction. She could not help betraying.
”Ach, but we shall not meet often I fear, this place is at the west”.
”So far away” and Jo let her skirts to their faith”, as if did not matter now what became of her clothes, or herself.
Mr Bhaer could read several languages, but he had not learned how to read women yet. He flattered himself that he knew Jo pretty well and was therefore much amazed by the contradictions of voice, face and manner. Which she showed him in a rapid succession that day. For she was in half-dozen different moods in the course of half an hour. When she met him she looked surprised, though it was impossible not to suspect that she had come for that express purpose. When he offered her his arm, she took it with a look that filled him with delight but when he asked if she missed him, she gave such chilly formal reply that the despair fell upon him, but learning his good fortune she almost clapped her hands. Was the joy all for the boys? Then on hearing his destination, she said ”so far away” in a tone of despair that lifted him onto a pinnacle of hope but the next minute, she stumbled him down again, by serving like entirely absorbent in the matter.
The narrator points out the difficulties, of the mute courting, the narration of love. How to verbalize it through non-verbal clues.
When they go shopping Jo is very clumsy and Friedrich starts to see how Jo indeed goes by contradictions. In the store she hides her cried face into a shawl.
”Does this suit you Mr Bhaer” she asked. Turning her back to him, feeling deeply grateful, for the chance of hiding her face.
I actually always thought that this scene was very intimate. It gives me some serious 1995 Sense and Sensibility vibes.
The next moment she rummages the counters like a ”confirmed bargain hunter”. Jo´s pattern is to hide vulnerabilities into action, but Jo has got into a point where she is ready to let down all her walls.
”For now the sun seemed to have gone, in as suddenly as it came out, and the world grew muddy and miserable again and for the first time she discovered that her feet were cold. Her head ached and that her heart was fuller of pain than the ladder. Mr Bhaer was going away. He only cared for her as a friend. It was all a mistake, and the sooner it was over the better. With this idea in her head she hailed an approaching omnibus with such a haste gesture that the daisies flew out of the pot and were badly damaged”.
This is where we get into the culmination. The mutual recognition of one another.
”I beg your pardon. I didn´t see the name distinctly. Never mind, I can walk. I am used to paddling in the mud. Returned Jo winking heard, for she would have died, rather than openly wiped her eyes.
Mr Bhaer saw the drops on her cheeks though she turned her head away. The sight seemed to touch him very much, for suddenly stooping down he asked in a tone that meant a great deal.
”Hearts dearest why do you cry?”
Liking someone is scary. These two have liked each others for quite a long time. When you first bring somebody into your life, it is scary because you have to admit to yourself that you are fully open. Taking a step forward, to tell you love them, it´s like standing on an edge of a cliff. Jo and Friedrich are both standing on that cliff and when Jo opens up Friedrich tells her that he has already fallen hard.
”Now if Jo had not been new to this sort of thing, she would have said, she wasn´t crying, had a cold in her head, told any other feminine fib proper to the occasion. Instead of that undignified creature answered with and irresistible sob,
”because you are going away”
”Ach mein gott, that is so good” said Mr Bhaer, then he clapped his hands despite of the umbrella and the bundles.
”Jo I have nothing but much love to giv 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 added all in one breath.
”Oh yes!” said Jo, and he was quite satisfied, before she folded both hands over his and looked up at him with an expression that plainly showed how happy she would be to walk through life beside him even though she had no better shelter but an old umbrella, if he carried it.
Friedrich wants to go on to his knees, but they are on the middle of the street covered in mud. It makes it difficult so they express their love by looking at each others and they no longer care about the surroundings. Jo calls Friedrich by his first name for the first time. Which delights him. He says that his sister was the last person calling him Friedrich. Poor man, that was five years ago. Friedrich also calls Jo as Jo and not as Miss March. The conversation is now open and tender. Louisa´s love for Germany continues when Friedrich asks Jo to use the word ”thou” instead of English ”you”. For those of you who don´t speak German, there is ”Sie” which is how you adress another person formally. Then there is ”Du” which is informal and in the 19th century context a much intimate. In old English ”thou” was the more intimate version of ”you”.
Friedrich shows Jo the poem that brought him to her. Poem is called ”in the garret” and Jo wrote it after Beth´s death, while feeling very lonely. In most adaptations, Friedrich has come bringing Jo her new book. Poem shows that Friedrich has taken the time to follow Jo´s career. When Jo asks what kept him away for so long, we find out that he has been looking for a job so that he could provide a home for Jo. This highlights Friedrich´s self reliance which is a value that Jo appreciates. Chapter ends into the very famous ”not empty now” line.
”I am glad you are poor. I could not bare a rich husband”. Then added in a softer tone. ”Dont´t fear poverty I´v known it long enough to loose my thread and be happy working for those I love and don´t call yourself old. 40 is the prime of life. I couldn´t help loving you if you were 70!
Professor found that so touching that he would be glad of his handkerchief. As he couldn´t Jo wiped his eyes for him and said laughing, as she took away a bundle or two. I may be strong minded but no one can say I am out of my sphere now and bearing burdans. I am to carry my share Friedrich, and help to earn the home. Make up your mind on that, or I´ll never go”. She added resolutely as he tried to reclaim his load.
”Ach, thou give me such hope and courage, I have nothing to give back but a full heart and these empty hands”. Sighted the professor quite overcome.
Jo never would learn to be proper. For when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she put both of her hands into his whispering tenderly. ”Not empty now” and stooping down kissed ”her Friedrich” under the umbrella.
Here is another quote from Christine Doyle.
”While Meg and John are the down to earth couple. Amy and Laurie are the romantics the artists. Jo and Friedrich combine the two. One of Friedrich´s most compelling qualities, is that he combines the domestic and the romantic heroism”.
Most 19th century courtship restrained from crossing the line until marriage, but that did not nessecarily mean that all relationships lacked passion. Lystra mentions that middle to upper middle class couples often did not take physical consummation until marriage. However during unchaperoned courtship, they would. Primary sources tend to suggest that during the 19th century sex became linked to sentimental love, especially for women. While women were supposed to be pure by nature, Lystra asserts that Victorians saw the sexual, spiritual and the moral in the concept of true love.
Here is a quote from Little Women fan Kymberly East:
”In the professor, Jo found a candidate for a kind of marriage she had not considered possible. A union between two people where freedom and partnership intertwine. In such a relationship, she didn´t have to sacrifice anything. As a matter of fact, she was able to realize a dream, that she otherwise may not have been able to achieve and in later books, she finds success as an author as well as providing a home for boys. Her liberation is completed and no sacrifice has been required of her”
Thank you for watching. Check out the episode I and Emily did about Jo´s and Friedrich´s relationship. Stay well and make good choices.
All the sources are listed here.
The Laurie Problem
Hello friends and welcome to Small Umbrella In The Rain. A podcast series on all things Louisa May Alcott and Little Women. This is a special episode. A collaboration between me and booktuber Emiloid. Emily and I discovered that we had lots of similar opinions and thoughts about Little Women and our first conversation actually lasted four hours!
This episode has been heavily edited :) and we had so much fun that we are probably going to do more collaborations in the future. I hope you guys enjoy this. This is Small Umbrella In The Rain: The Laurie Problem.
Emily: Hello I am Emily. I am also known as Emiloid. I run a booktube channel by the same name and I am also a big fan of Little Women the novel and also a great fan of discussing the adaptations as well.
Niina: I am Niina. Hello everyone and I am a blogger on YouTube and I have a channel called Small Umbrella In The Rain. I do gender studies on Little Women and been lately focusing mostly on the male characters.
Emily: Also I am relatively well-known for my channel for a review I did on the newest Little Women adaptation.
Niina: Which was a really good review.
Emily: To say the least. Openly critical of the film and Niina reach out to me because we have lot of the same perspectives on the book and the films. I am very honored. I am really flattered that you asked me because I had literally found your blog when I was preparing for my video.
Niina: So nice because it was a really big surprise for me how many people reached out after I published it. You always learn new things when people reach out to you like that. They share their views and it´s been a pleasure.
Emily: Yeah. I had lots of people reaching out to me ”wow I am so grateful that you have reflected my views on this film” and it feels like they finally got presented. Before I even knew you I remember thinking about your blog post like, ”wow this person agrees with me” because you really love professor Bhaer and this film did not have professor Bhaer in it, pretty much. You know, they didn´t have our professor Bhaer in it.
Niina: Yeah, where is our professor Bhaer?
Emily: Yeah, where is this beautiful relationship?
Emily: Today you wanted to discuss Laurie.
Niina: Among other things, yes.
Emily: Yes, among other things.
Emily: So we are going to do one video on this channel. On Niina´s channel and then one video on my channel, where we will be discussing Jo and professor Bhaer but you will probably find that our discussions will go on different directions.
Niina: Very likely.
Emily: We have lots of feelings about these adaptations and this book. Alright, how about we start out talking about the Laurie model. By the way I literally just watched the 2017 series last night.
Niina: oh you did?
Emily: I think I agree with a lot what you said about it. I like what they expanded but the ending is very rushed.
Niina: It is. I felt like the writer should have had four episodes to do it properly.
Emily: Yeah. Somehow they managed to expand on some things but somehow the ending was just really rushed. I was so surprised at the end.
Niina: Yeah and it did not build enough for the two couples. That really bothered me.
Emily: They didn´t really thought through the whole process for Jo and professor Bhaer and suddenly the school is established and they don´t build up on that. It was a bit weird. You sent me a bunch of articles and blog posts about this subject and you clearly had done very deep dive into his character.
Niina: I think my biggest problem with all Laurie´s presentations in the films is that it never follows the book´s narrative. This is something that really reflects to the way people read Little Women. I find it very problematic to say the least.
Emily: I know I remember you said that basically Laurie has to go through a whole growth process in the book, I guess we should preface it by saying that lot of the adaptations idealize him. What you said in your blog post. He is kind of this young, pretty guy who is in love with Jo. We are supposed to feel bad for him but what the adaptations leave out is how immature he really is and actually how horrible he is sometimes.
Niina: One of my blog readers. She wrote a very eye -opening review about Little Women how Jo and Laurie, the ideas that they feed to each others, they actually end up harming each others on a long run and that is something that people constantly ignore.
Emily: Yes! I think a big example is, remember when Laurie was like ”Ah I don´t want to go to university and Jo is like just run away you don´t have to go to the uni and Meg is like ”No, don´t tell Laurie, not to go to uni. No, you need to do it”. At that point I was like wow these two are not good influence on each other at all.
Niina: Laurie was that kind of character that he always did what he was told to do. He always wants to do what he is told not to do and he has this constant inner conflict because of it.
Emily: That is true. He kinda reminds me of bit of me, I don´t think he really appreciated lot of the priviledge he had at the start because he is like ”I don´t like uni” because he is sort of expected to fit into a certain mold in the society what he doesn´t really properly appreciate. He was just sort of a party boy in college and messes around and everything. He doesn´t really know how to be a productive member of society. He doesn´t really understand what that means.
Niina: When Jo gets older, it really starts to bother her. That he doesn´t take responsibility of himself. She is like a little mother for him. She is always taking care of him and it is quite sad the way Jo feels bad that he has all these priviledges that she doesn´t have.
Emily: He kinda represents lot of the things that she can´t have but he really takes for granted. I think you might have pointed this out in your blog post but Jo is very much taking care of him because he is really looking for a mother. He really kind of falls in love with her, or he thinks, because he is really looking for this character who is going to nanny him.
Niina: People forget that Laurie is an orphan. He doesn´t really have a stable parental figure until Jo arrives.
Emily: Yeah and he is always envying that really idyllic view of the March family. All the sisters and their relationship with Marmee and Marmee essentially becomes his secondary mother in away. I think you also pointed out, despite of craving this maternal figure in his life, he and Jo like to make fun of very feminine girls. They have really mutually negative reforcing views on femininity and masculinity as well. I was surprised when I re-read the book and I was like wow! Laurie was actually ...am I allowed to swear on your channel?
Niina: Go ahead.
Emily: He is a fuckboy.
Emily: Yeah he is really a fuckboy but then he turns around and talked bad about these girls to Jo and I am like Wow, this is exactly the kind of guy I would have tried to avoid back in uni. He is quite misogynistic. I wonder what you think because you pointed out that Jo is dissappointed with Laurie but I think also Amy is as well. I think Amy even if she doesn´t have the same kind of relationship with Laurie also really steps in and is the one to say ”Hey, you are really not being productive person and you are really idle” and she taps his hand. She is like, your hands, they have never done days work and I´m wondering if you could talk about your view on Jo and why Jo is kind of his mother but isn´t able to build that kind of relationship with him that Amy is somehow able to come out. Give him the same kind of talk but then isn´t really his mother and is actually able to get through him.
Niina: There is a theory that Amy already had a crush on Laurie when she was 12. When I read the book like that it makes sense because there is the scene where Laurie goes to cheer her up when she is staying at aunt March and all that.
Niina: I always liked that chapter but when I read Little Women last time what I noticed is that Laurie always behaves a lot better with Amy than he does with Meg or with Jo. With Meg or with Jo he always seems to have this idea that he is somehow above them but that doesn´t really happen with Amy. It´s really interesting.
Emily: Do you think it is because they are both younger siblings of Jo and Meg and they kind of are able to reach some sort of equal footing that way?
Niina: They are all just very different people. There is that chapter where Laurie forges letters in John´s name and then he is catfishing Meg and then Jo wants Meg and Laurie to get together. To keep Laurie in the family. She doesn´t really see how harmful that is to Meg´s reputation and Laurie doesn´t see any kind of harmful elements in his actions.
Emily: He is just kind of making fun but it really is a mean joke to play at somebody. Especially when one of them involves his teacher, who he really does not appreciate enough.
Niina: He really takes Mr Brooke for granted.
Emily: I think I read this on your blog and this really resonated with me. He is also quite toxic towards Jo especially when he wants to be in a relationship with her. He is saying ”I am going to kill myself” you know ”over you”.
Niina: There is lots of mental blackmailing and it´s quite hard to read sometimes.
Emily: Yeah it is. I think you quoted somebody who said, Laurie is a ”nice guy”, so called. He is one of those nice guys who expect to get what he wants because he is so nice to that person.
Niina: He doesn´t really see Jo as an actual person at that point. He wants to marry her because he is expected to marry someone. When there is that time period when he is in Vienna and he is trying to compose. It is like he doesn´t really care who he is going to marry or who is this romantic woman that he is composing these operas for. It doesn´t really matter at that point because he has this idea that this is what a man is supposed to be like.
Emily: I think he writes about how he has this phantom of a woman in his mind and it is not really vague. He is not really thinking about Jo´s characteristics or anything like that. He just have this sort of Goethean idea of a woman. What we know doesn´t resemble Jo at all.
Niina: It is this phantom princess who is waiting for a prince to arrive, from an opera or a ballet. It´s really not Jo March and it is really not Amy either but when he starts to have more deeper feelings for Amy, this phantom it starts to look more and more like Amy. It is one of those things that is never adapted in the adaptations.
Emily: I am surprised. You are absolutely correct. No one gives Laurie this arch. Nobody delves into his feelings about the March girls. People even cut out that kind of toxic behaviour that he has.
Niina: It is really weird. Very odd.
Emily: I am surprised. You know how these days we are talking about Twilight. Twilight is so toxic because Edward stalks Bella and is so possessive and I am just like, well you know, here is this nice guy who is very toxic towards the person he wants to be with and is no better. It really bugles my mind. That even a grown up reader could go back to this character and be like ”oh Laurie should have been with Jo” and I don´t know if you saw but I think they are even coming out a book called ”Jo and Laurie”.
Niina: Yeah, I heard about it. I am not going to read it. It´s going to make me angry.
Niina: I know better!
Emily: I don´t want to read it either. If you want to write fan fiction, fine, but I can´t believe people are actually publishing this stuff.
Niina: It´s ridicilous.
Emily: Buy this narrative that they should have been together. I really can´t believe it.
Niina: What it comes to Louisa, the whole premise of Little Women was to write a book for girls about how to marry someone who you can actually live with for the rest of your life and she really does this very well when you think about it because she especially crafted Friedrich´s character for Jo and then he is based on men who Louisa was in love with.
Emily: As we pointed out before, we don´t have lot´s of full characterizations of Laurie in the films. I am wondering, did you expect the 2019 film to do a better with his character?
Niina: I read very early interviews of Greta Gerwig who talked about the way Jo and Laurie has this relationship that is not romantic and that gave me hope but then I read the movie guide for the new film and then she goes back with it. I think she is a Jo and Laurie shipper. Which is why Laurie doesn´t have an arch. What I have seen in Little Women circles with lot of the people who I have talked with and interviewed for my articles, is that there are lot of people now who think that Laurie is very immature in that film and they are glad that Jo ended up with the professor. So it is some kind of improvement but he is still million times more idealized in that movie that he is in the book.
Emily: The really dreamy Timothee Chamalet.
Niina: He doesn´t have a character arch. They did very good job with Amy in that movie.
Emily: Yes, yes.
Niina: But it doesn´t work without Laurie´s arch. That is the problem.
Emily: That is very true. I was hoping to discuss this with you. Despite of my very critical review of the new film. I think they were doing okay with Amy and Laurie. For up until the Europe part because I think setting up their relationship is pretty good. I think I said before in my review. I didn´t like how they contrived that with Amy´s painting being the set up for that because I think that is actually a very awful scene that is supposed to be a scene or righteous anger and I didn´t like that it was made to be comical. I liked that they did some work on establishing their relationship before hand. I´d be okay with this and in Europe they have that discussion. Amy gives him a talk and then Amy also doesn´t want to play second to Jo. I was like okay, this was fine. But then you noticed how Laurie doesn´t have to do any work for Amy?
Niina: Yeah, that´s true.
Emily: I always found this to be very crucial part of their arch. Amy even encourages him to be a productive member of society but then he never does any of that. That aspect of their story is left hanging and just incomplete and then it´s back to Beth´s death to speed up their relationship instead of himactually putting work in, which really sat badly with me.
Niina: That is something that really bothered me in the film and that kind of reflected in Jo´s character because she was not given a character arch either.
Emily: She is not. I said in my review her arch is flat without professor Bhaer.
Niina: If we compare that to the 1994 film, Jo has a full arch there. That is the way it goes in the book.
Emily: Yes she does. Despite Laurie not having much of a characterization, maybe not much more in the 1994 film. I liked that they actually acknowledged that he went away to actually better himself before coming back to Amy.
Niina: It doesn´t really build up their relationship as much as the 2019 film but Laurie has some sort of arch in that movie.
Emily: Now that we are talking about 1994 film. I think you said in your blog post we don´t get a sense of his temper and how he would clash with Jo which is why we don´t always buy that they would kill each others.
Niina: That is the same with all adaptations. I mean, Louisa makes a really big effort in the book. She describes that Laurie has a temper and that he has these violent outbursts sometimes and Jo has them as well.
Emily: You get this sense that Laurie is butting heads with Jo, what he kind of is, but he also clashes with her in other ways but they never really represent that. I think in 1994 Christian Bale is really wonderful for the character that they wrote but I guess a lot of people have accused the film of making that relationship with Amy creepy. Underdeveloped maybe, but I never found it creepy particularly.
Niina: I think it´s because Amy is 12 in the first part and Laurie is 16 but it´s just a four years age different and they are not romantically together in that way but then people also say that Jo and Friedrich are creepy but Jo is 24 when they meet. I never saw that creepy.
Emily: They are both adults.
Niina: It was written in the 19th century. Most marriages were marriages with age gaps and Louisa had a thing for older guys.
Emily: Back then it was super common.
Niina: Yeah, for most people there was an age gap in the marriages or in relationships in general.
Emily: Because families generally wanted their daughters to marry established gentlemen. Who already had a living and generally it would take time for a guy to actually establish his career and when he did at that point he would marry somebody. So it is not shocking at all that you would have age gaps like that.
Niina: If you think about some of the recent films. For example the new Emma. In the original Jane Austen´s Emma, the Knightley and Emma age difference is 19 years. In the new film, Knightley´s actor is much younger looking. They do that now days. The male lead is hired to be a young looking guy, even if the actor is actually a bit older in reality.
Emily: It´s funny, you know in the 2019 film they did that with professor Bhaer. They were not going to do the proper arch anyway but they made him younger too.
Niina: The actor is actually 36 so his age is really close to the book Fritz but he looks much younger. It´s just Hollywood the way it does it but then if I think about Amy and Laurie in the 1994 film, I don´t think it´s creepy but if you think about how people could actually avoid that why can´t they actually hire a 16 year old guy to play Laurie but people are going to complain about everything, it doesn´t matter who we are going to cast to play Laurie.
Emily: In the 2019 film I felt that it had bit an issue with Florence Pugh looking older in all of her scenes, when Laurie just looked young in all of his scenes.
Niina: The actors they are the same age.
Emily: They are the same age. It´s just that, you could not quite buy Amy or Florence Pugh as a child and you could never buy Timothee Chamalet as an adult. Whatever their real-life age is. It just doesn´t work in the sense of that visual contrast. I mean people have pointed out to me that Christian Bale was only 20 when he played Laurie but he is able to transition from being an teen ager into an adult. Sometimes you know, even if the real age matches, that is the thing about casting, you need certain people to pass of different ages. It is weird because I haven´t seen the 1933 film but I noticed that both 1949 and 1994 don´t pay that much attention to Amy´s and Laurie´s arch. In fact I think 1949 less so. It is not even there.
Niina: No. There is this scene before Laurie goes to propose Jo and Amy is looking at Laurie with a sad expression on her face. I think that is the only scene with them together and then there is the end when they end up together. That is their arch. Laurie´s proposal is extremely romanticised in that film and it´s really romanticised in 1933 film and 1994 film. 2019 film did better but then it completely erased Friedrich´s character so it kind of sucks.
Emily: Laurie in the 1949 film. I recall his proposal being pretty angry and I think that was the only time we could ever really buy into his character having a temper.
Niina: It is the same in 1933 film. Laurie has bit of a temper in it but after that it is just really flat in the next adaptations.
Emily: I have watched the proposal scene in the 1933 film with Katherine Hepburn. At least he has that line ”I can´t believe you, you don´t know what you want”. Jo in 1949 was probably my least favorite. She never really handles scenes like that with much sensitivity. I don´t recall her being very in-depth about emotions in it with Laurie. My problems with 1949 film is that they had no balls to do lot of things. Amy´s caining, they come up right against it and back down from it, remember that. When she get´s her hand beaten for having limes. They have the teacher almost hit her hand and then he doesn´t do it.
Niina: I really like Elizabeth Taylor as Amy but the problem with that movie is that they make her the butt of the joke and I don´t like that because that is not something that the book does so it kind of brings out this Amy against Jo positioning again. It shouldn´t be there. It romanticises Laurie the same way as it does with Mr Bhaer´s character so it becomes Laurie versus Fritz and then Amy versus Jo and it´s just not the way the book goes. The book makes it very clear that Amy is really perfect for Laurie, and Fritz is perfect for Jo. I still haven´t seen an adaptation that does it the way the book does.
Emily: Yeah that´s true. I think they did professor Bhaer pretty well in 1949 film.
Niina: They actually build up that relationship pretty well.
Emily: I appreciated that.
Niina: He is Italian, but I´m going to over-look that.
Emily: We should probably save this for the professor Bhaer video.
Emily: I like it when the adaptations build up that relationship. I guess some people will argue and say. Oh you can´t really develop some of these scenes because or run-time. Because there isn´t really time for to do these things but I feel like there is not really an excuse sometimes. When you have the really incomplete archs for everybody. The 2019 film tried to do this with Meg´s arch, dealing with poverty in her marriage, but then they just kind of slapped on a happy ending on that and they were just like we are not going to explore it. We are not going to have any sort of conclusion.
Niina: It was left half-developed but I think that happens a lot with Meg´s character.
Emily: In the beginning I liked that they were trying to do something with her. They ended up not really properly deal with her in away that I would like. First of all Emma Watson, as we´ve discussed can´t carry on that kind of quiet strength that Meg has. When you bring something like a marital issue, a serious marital issue, I don´t think you should be like ”Oh I am just going to sell it! Get rid of the silk” you didn´t make the issue go away.
Niina: There was an older version of the script. One of the older versions where her melt-down was included but it wasn´t added into the movie and I heard that it was because of Emma Watson´s performance and that James Norton had to carry out many of the scenes. It goes back to the casting I guess.
Emily: We dicussed this before, casting Emma Watson was very much based on her other accomplishments other than acting. Because she plays the same character in every film she is in. I do admire her as an activist but I have not been impressed with her since Harry Potter. Having recently watched the 2017 film..mini-series. Did you think they did any better with Laurie´s arch or no? Because I dont´t think he really put in much work either. What did you think?
Niina: I think he was very idealized in that version once again. He is very melacholic character there. Laurie in the books, he can be very up-lifting and very funny sometimes.
Emily: Like I said, his interractions with Amy, they were able to build up that relationship a bit more. They acknowledged his musical side. Which is an improvement. I think they tried to get in some of his clashes with Jo. When their characters bummed up their heads sometimes. I think they do bit of that. When he ends up with Amy, when they come together. We don´t see Amy getting him to put his life in order. I feel again, that is such an important part of their story. That Amy is the one to get him to be a productive person.
Niina: Amy´s portrayal in that series it is really a villanization. It was once again putting Amy against Jo. For once they adapted my favorite chapter, which is Calls. She gets to go to Europe and Jo doesn´t get to go to Europe because Jo is actually really rude towards aunt March.
Niina. In that particular version it was framed that we should admire Jo for being rude to aunt March and Jo is like a feminist hero because of that and then Amy actually is quite happy that Jo doesn´t get to go. Then in the book it is the opposite. Amy is really horrified by Jo´s actions and she feels ashamed by it. It is not something that she is secretly glad about and when she finds out that she is chosen and Jo is not chosen. She is really sad for Jo. She really feels bad for her. I think 2019 film had that part done much better.
Emily: Jo and Amy rivalry, the problems I had with 2017 I had similar issues with 2019 where I felt like Amy and Jo were somehow in competition over Laurie, which I don´t like that dynamic.
Niina: That doesn´t happen in the book because Jo never wants to be with Laurie romantically. She is very clear about it since the beginning.
Emily: Yeah, the only reason she would ever consider accepting Laurie is if Laurie accepted again and that´s because she was lonely and that was really the only reason. I think in 2017 when I saw Jo is like ”oh she is engaged to Laurie what! And I was like ”No” they are not supposed to be in competition over this guy. That is not how it works.
Niina: It really has to do a lot with the script writer and how they feel about the characters because I read interview from Heidi Thomas who wrote that show and she was not a big fan of Amy. So you can really see how that reflects in the film. Jo doesn´t really have an arch and Amy doesn´t really have an arch. It´s all just a mess.
Emily: I did feel some of the weaknesses in the writing. I don´t know if it is the issue with that actress who plays Jo but sometimes she can´t always pass off Jo´s lines in a belieavable way. I liked other aspects of that series. The civil war. They included a lot of elements of that which I appreciated. There is a lot more of Marmee and their father.
Niina: That was something that I really liked about it and they developed their characters a bit more and it was a new take so it was refreshing.
Emily: I am always a fan of a strong Marmee because Marmee has to deal with so much. She has to mother the four girls. She is kind of a secondary mother to Laurie. She has to give him adressing down at some point and she has to run a household that is financially struggling. So you need a very subtantial Marmee and I love what they did with her in that mini-series. That´s an issue I had with 2019 film. She is so overly happy about everything.
Niina: It was a bit strange and they didn´t really put that much effort to show the struggles that were going on. In the opening of the film I think there was a quote from Louisa ”I write happy stories because of my stragic life” or something like that. You don´t really see any of that stragic life there. That was something that bothered me because you see that in Little Women, the book itself.
Emily: I know, the whole point of Little Women is about people getting over their struggles and to find the happiness despite the unhappiness. That is why I don´t like the framing device of the 2019 film. ”Oh well the childhood was so simple and warm and happy and now this dark time and adulthood is so complicated” I am just like ”No, it wasn´t never that happy even when they were kids. They were poor and they had to struggle. They had to work very hard from a young age. It was not that simple. It is very pessimistic too because the whole point is that you are supposed to build up into adulthood and you know find your happiness there as well. That thematic bent on it I did not agree with it at all.
Niina: What it comes to Amy´s character and her relationship with Laurie, the dilemma against Amy´s character is that some people say she is really vain, or that she marries for money, but then if you actually read the book, she says that she want´s to marry...what was the name of the rich guy she was dating?
Emily: Fred Vaughn
Niina: Fred Vaughn! Because she wants to provide a good life for her family. So she is thinking it is some kind of a sacrifice that she must make. That she is not going to marry for love but marry for convenience.
Emily: I don´t think she loves the idea of marrying for money. She always has her family in mind. I think the book burning incident sends lot of people against Amy and I think that incident always makes Amy seem like an anti-Jo in away but she is also a kid at that point. Later on we are supposed to see her become this really mature person and eventually is able to set the guy she marries stray, so she does marry for love and it works out very well for her. She is incredibly mature character. She has a sense of social graces. She actually genuenly cares about Jo.
Niina: Yes, she does.
Emily: 2019 film really keeps setting up Amy and Jo even with their artistic pursues. Did you notice that? Amy being like ”I am always in the shadow of Jo” implying that even artistically she is in competition with her.
Niina: If you read the first part of Little Women before the whole book burning accident Jo is really making fun of Amy constantly and she is bullying her. There is a whole episode how she is being a mean big sister. It is pretty normal what it comes to siblings that you fight with them. Especially when you are younger and they both have high tempers. It is when Amy wants to become a lady. She starts to work on her flaws. She starts to control herself. She sees that she can be better and then the whole premise of Little Women is that all the sisters they want to improve themselves somehow. With Jo her biggest issue is her anger and she is very aware of that and Amy thinks that it is her vanity that is the problem. If you actually read the book. She is not really a vain person. It´s in her head.
Emily: The vanity is more about her desire to fit into the certain circles of society.
Niina: They are very poor family and Meg has the same problem, that she wants to fit into the society. To the world of the young girls. Then she thinks it is vain for her wanting to do that because she comes from a different social class but the Marches they used to be part of the higher social class and they fell down. Meg is the one who still remembers what it was like.
Emily: It really hits harder for her because she remembers the days when her family was still living comfortably.
Niina: It is not wrong for her for wanting to be that again but she makes it a big deal for herself and that is quite sad but I think it also has lot to do with 19th century Christian morals and all that. We can´t really fully understand that because we live in 2020.
Emily: It is hard for us now to really identify with that Christian perspective that novel really has because when I read it this time around ”wow there is a lot of Christianity in this book”. They structured their entire lives around these ideals. Of course I can understand why they would now try to tone it down in the adaptations but I am not really fan of how they totally wash that out because that played such a big part in how they viewed their labour in life.
Niina: It also explains lot of the things that people struggle now days to understand in Little Women. I think it would be important to talk about it more.
Emily: I think so. I think that the Christianity, transcendentalism aspect of the story is very important and I liked that the 1994 film actually acknowledged that intellectual circle that they were part of.
Niina: That´s one of my favorite things about that film.
Emily: They got lots of nice historical, context in that film. The philosophical discussion I love it. But definitely Christianity it´s such a huge thing and why Little Women is also such fundamentally American novel is that ideal. You work hard and things will be okay.
Niina: That´s very important part of American literature in general.
Emily: You can really understand our current ideals about personal responsibility, personal development, when you really dwelve into this book and it plays out with all the characters. About being able to grow up and become productive and give back. I think, you know, people are always so upset about Jo not becoming a famous writer. You know she finds joy in being productive.
Niina: She does become a famous writer but people just don´t read the sequels.
Niina: She is very famous in Jo´s Boys. She is so famous she is really annoyed by her fame. When do we get Jo´s boys adapted?
Emily: I confess to not reading Jo´s Boys but I have read summaries of the book and people are like ”oh she doesn´t become famous” and I´m like, she does become famous in Jo´s boys.
Niina: It took Louisa a long time to become a famous writer. It´s the same with Jo. It doesn´t happen in one night. It takes work.
Emily: It does! Art is work. Jo she had to go through a lot creative failures to get into that point. Art is hard. I know that to be true. I feel like we are heading into Jo discussion now.
Niina: Okay, back to Laurie.
Emily: Back to Laurie!
Niina: In the book when he is in Vienna, he really goes through that process of self-discovery, self growth and self understanding. I have this thing when I read Little Women I always get really frustrated by Laurie because I don´t understand his character, his actions and it is not until there is that chapter when he is in Vienna I start to understand who he actuall is. It´s really interesting and it happens after Amy´s lecture. She is the first one he actually listens and I think the difference between Amy and Jo is that Laurie took Jo for granted. He doesn´t take Amy for granted. I don´t think Laurie was even in love with Jo. He was in love with the idea of being in love. He was afraid to grow as a person so he was clinging on to Jo so that he doesn´t need to grow and so that he doesn´t need to take responsibility of his life. Amy actually tells Laurie the truth. This is the way it is and you need to do something about it. In away Amy´s character is similar to Friedrich, in that sense, Friedrich tells Jo the truth. This is the way it is. You can improve yourself or you can stay in the same level you have been. This is what is missing in the adaptations. That whole sequence of Laurie in Vienna and the way he actually decides to be useful for the society. Do a favor for himself. He is about 24 at that point. He has been living in a bubble for most of his life. Very privileged, young, aristocrat life. I just love that scene when Amy and Laurie are rowing the boat together and that has never been adapted either.
Emily: I feel like it is so important to his story because lots of young people could probably identify with that now. Lot of people come from that priviledged circle and they have these dreams that may take little bit longer to process. ”I am just going to be an artist” you know. ”I am just going to live this bohemian life” and then it´s like ”oh well I didn´t really contribute anything and these are all just fantasies. Naturally I am just going to get into work now”. It is funny in our culture because I don´t know if I am wrong but I feel that lot of us really want that ideal ”oh no be an artist, follow your dreams”. For some people it is only talk and what they really need to do is to get a job”
Niina: He doesn´t even really know how to be an artist. He hasn´t really done that work-in-process that it takes to get into that level that he wants to be.
Emily: He hasn´t worked on his art the same way as even Jo has because Jo gets that it is work.
Niina: It is the same with Amy, when she comes to the realisation that she is not going to be a great artist. She continues doing art but then at the same time she combines that with her other passions, like charity work and supporting young artists. She finds a different way to approach her passions.
Emily: I found a recent youtuber who reviewed the new film and they were almost like ”oh I didn´t like that in the book, that everyone is just married”
Niina: What a misunderstanding!
Emily: Not married in the exclusion of everything else. I mean sometimes it´s just a reality for people. Sometimes they can´t make it so sometimes they need to channel their passions in different ways. That is the reality of life. That is what Louisa May Alcott understood.
Niina: That is what I like about Little Women is that you can have it all. You can have a good career and you can have a relationship with a person that respects you. It´s such a win-win situation really.
Emily: I can not for the life of me undertand why people find that unsatisfactory. It is even a promise for people who don´t even feel like they could find someone that they could marry. Even if you would feel like couldn´t be with anyone. Then you can find somebody. It is something that I don´t think the 2019 film really understood. I think they really wanted to push that whole independent woman narrative and I just really don´t like what that film seems to misunderstand about that book. They at least did nice job with Amy and her speech about marriage being an economic proposition. That´s a pretty good scene actually. That´s a scene I didn´t hate.
Niina: In the 19th century marriage was an economical proposition. It was really interesting when I did my research on Louisa and especially on Friedrich´s character. She was part of the movement, where it became more important that love and romance was part of marriage and not just money. That is something that Louisa is promoting in all of her novels. That is something that people are not aware these days. We don´t like to bother ourselves with historical facts about the author but there is lots of misunderstandings about Louisa as a person that are reflected in the way we read Little Women. It´s been really interesting to do research about her.
Emily: She is a real feminist in lot of ways and I think people have these very contradictory ideas about her and I don´t know if it is because Little Women has been around so long that our interpretations are changeabale in lot of ways because we are like ”oh she was a feminist” I think they kind of understand that but then ”oh no but Louisa would have been on board with these other notions now, she didn´t really want marriage she forced her characters into it”. They want to force Little Women to conform into their own modern narrative when you really can not do that. That is the problem, in the adaptation if you do that.
Niina: This idea that Louisa was forced to marry her characters, it is really the opposite. She puts lots of effort to explain why these marriages work and why it should be this way. These character archs they are really beautifully crafted in the book and the way these characters the way they compliment each others and it is really the same in all of her novels. I have been reading quite many of Louisa´s novels recently and I always surprised the way she does that. It is something that she is really into.
Emily: Jo´s story really doesn´t work, I mean none of them really work essentially without their partnerships, not because they are nothing without their parterships but because being able to share a life with somebody, she saw that as being able to achieve harmony in your life. To be able to form your own circle, your own family.
Niina: In many ways that fits with the transcendentalist idea of romance. There is this quote from Louisa, well not a quote, but something she had highlighted from her favorite books, how the character evolves, person transcends with another person. She is very found of this idea.
Emily: That is a very Christian idea, to form an union with the person that you marry. It is not that you are not your own person, just that you build something better with another person, that is bigger that both of you.
Niina: I think that was something that was very radical idea in the 19th century and now days we take that for granted.
Emily: It is a real shame that so much of Little Women has been worked over time by our modernizing world. Like I said before, we seem to have the desire to form Little Women into our modern world, into our modern ideals when really we are just restoring the work.
Niina: It is difficult to understand Little Women if we don´t know the historical context of it.
Emily: That´s very true. I really admire adaptations that try to put the story into it´s historical context. I think that context is everything. You might have heard me criticising the costuming in the new film for instance they are like ”we are trying to make it sort of you know pseudo-modern and we are trying to make it relatable and we are trying to do this and that to make it more relabtable to the audience” and I´m just like ”are you saying that you need to strip away that context in order to make it relatable. Are you saying we can´t relate to Civil War? Or anything from that era? Is that what you are saying?” That seems very condescending.
Niina: It takes away from the story itself when we are being distracted by the modernism in away, or post-modernism in this case. Or the post-modern ideas which are not part of the story itself.
Emily: We touched a bit the Amy rivalry with Jo. You felt that they had kind of villanization of Amy in the 2017 show. They expanded her character a bit more in 2019. How do you feel about how they expanded Amy´s character and that rivalry? Because I think they really lean into it remember when Jo is flashing back to Amy falling in the lake and she burned the book and she is like ”oh Amy finds away to get out of easy situations, get out of hard situations” which took me backwards because it was like ”No, she was called to be with aunt March, she was travelling with aunt March. In that other situation I´d say, she was very ashamed of what she did and she almost died. I don´t understand where you are coming from one you say that she gets out of situations.
Niina: That is a very weird way to look at Amy. In the book, she feels humiliation. She really regrets the things that she does. Jo also regrets things that she has said to Amy. Jo also regrets some of her behavior patterns. But I think that the 2019 film did okay in that sense it showed that Jo and Amy were sides of the same coin. They are very similar and when they realize that they are actually very similar they become much closer. That is an improvement what it comes to Jo and Amy and understanding their relationship. One of the biggest problems in all the adaptations is really idealizing Jo a lot and not really see her as a full character. Really as a human being who actually does regret sometimes the things that she says. Things that she does.
Emily: She is very flawed.
Niina: Yeah, she is very aware that she is flawed. We live in this culture where we are suppose to idealise people who are adamant and don´t want to change or are rude or aggresive. That´s just not the way Little Women is written to be. Jo sees that her actions are harming other people and that is one of the reasons why she doesn´t want to be with Laurie, or hang out with him on the second part because she sees that they are feeding each others with these toxic ideas.
Emily: I don´t know how much young adult fiction you read but it is a common trend to have this female protagonist, you even see that in Star Wars where we have this female character who can do no wrong. Is very spunky and we are suppose to admire that. I think our culture has become a bit adversed to what we are trying to get of from Little Women. Jo is supposed to soften out. She is trying to not harm people with her behaviour and it is a good thing for her because she becomes more compassionate person. That is what becoming more tender means. That is how her father puts it. She has become more tender person because she is just more compassionate individual. That is also what happens with Amy as well. She also wants to be a productive person. She also gets to understand that all these things you get in life, you have to work for them as well.
Niina: Amy is very compassionate and she is very kind person. I really like that in the books. She cares about other people.
Emily: You noticed even when Fred Vaughn asked her to marry him, she is like ”it´s not fair for either of us”. She has to think herself and this other guy and, it wouldn´t be kind to either of them. I really respect her character a lot.
Niina: I think Amy was really the one in the family who really loved aunt March. They really ruined aunt March for me in the 2019 adaptation because she was way too kind in it. It is really who makes her a bit softer in the book. Meryl Streep is great don´t get me wrong but aunt March is a tough person to get along with.
Emily: She is a very tough lady. She is a very crusty lady because she has lived alone for a while. Her kid died. Her husband died. She has got a little bit bitter over the years. You can´t really blame her and Jo was like ”oh I am just so done with this gig, reading to this lady” Amy is the only one who is really able to properly connect to aunt March. Aunt March in her heart she loves these girls. She loves them all.
Niina: She does. She loves her nephew as well but she is not impressed by his way of being.
Emily: Sometimes when, she was like ”oh you made this really awful decision I can´t believe it” sometimes I feel that way about other people in my life ”oh I can´t believe you did that in your life what are you doing?”
Niina: She is quite relatable in the end.
Emily: Yeah she is really relatable. I mean isn´t that what adulthood is eventually relating to aunt March.
Niina: The part of her loosing her child, I didn´t realise that until last time I read the book. Somehow it had slipped off. I had a talk about in Louisa May Alcott group in Facebook with some people and we were all thinking what was the back story of aunt March and this child and her husband.
Niina: That would make a really interesting story for someone to write. It seemed that they had a very loving relationship based to the book, it must have made her bitter to loose it.
Emily: Somebody write the aunt March book. She is that sort of person you need to come to her level and when you do, she´ll be nice to you. She will do things for you. Amy is really cabable of doing that. She doesn´t even take aunt Marches belongings. Aunt March gives her a turquoise ring. She is like ”I am not going to always wear it, it wasn´t just for the material possessions that I worked hard”. I think they wasted Meryl Streep in the 2019 film. They did not do enough of her at all. I think her job was to be like ”well you know as a woman you are supposed to marry well” and that was it for her character. There is lot more dimensionality I like that other adaptations add that on.
Niina: I love her in 1994 film. She is one of my favorite characters. Very much like in the book.
Emily: You have to have that kind of element of thoughness and also those nuances as well. I love Angela Landsbury as her in 2017 series.
Niina: She was very good.
Emily: She is very good.
Niina: I liked the way that version developed her relationship with Jo.
Emily: That final scene between the two of them.
Niina: It didn´t really do that well with Amy and aunt March because it didn´t do that well with Amy but there is always something that seems to be missing.
Emily: Little Women, it is so hard to adapt, so hard to get all these elements.
Niina: There are elements that I like in all adaptations and there are things that I don´t like in all the adaptations.
Emily: That is true. I am so critical about the 2019 film and there are things that I like in it, refering to comments on my video ”why did you hate it? Why did you say that?” ”well I did like this aspect of the film like I didn´t like these ten other things”.
Niina: We are talking about a book that was written 150 years ago. We are allowed to be critical about the adaptations and we are allowed to talk about the things that are missing, like Laurie´s arch.
Emily: We should.
Niina: Things don´t move forward if we don´t talk about these things and the way we approach the book.
Emily: I think we should have these discussions. To some extend a lot of people are too afraid to talk about against the 2019 film because I got that sense from lot of my comments ”I didn´t like this all that much but I couldn´t really validate why I didn´t like it until I saw your video” and so many people were so up and arms against when I criticised it and I´m just like ”well if you are really that upset with me then go find these other people that talk other ways”. I even appreciate it when people talk about some aspect that in the 1994 film that don´t work as well which I also acknowledge. You are adapting 500+ page book there are things you are not going to get. I get that Amy and Laurie relationship isn´t that developed and I would have liked it if Meg would have had more screen time after she got married. I do appreciate those things.
Niina: Laurie is connected to all of this.
Emily: He is a side-character but he plays different roles to different people.
Niina: When I started to do my research on Laurie´s character specifically I began to understand him better when I started to pay more attention to the way he has this emotional turmoil because when I was younger I used to be very much the same. I wish that we would see that more in the adaptations because that is the part that is always missing and people misudnerstand it because they see that something romantic. We don´t see Laurie´s struggles. He is really a creep sometimes. If we would see that we wouldn´t have the TeamBhaer/TeamLaurie debate. Especially if you are hardcore TeamBhaer like you and I are, if you really like Amy as well and you actually have read the book many many many times. It just puzzles my mind how people can misunderstand the book so terribly.
Emily: I feel that even the fans of the book who have also read it many times still have this view on Laurie and these characters which still feels such a surface level interpretation of the book.
Niina: Feels like they haven´t really payed that much attention to what they have read. That´s all in the book and they still don´t seem to understand it. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to do an in-depth study on Laurie and Friedrich as well. It really surprised me that it was really difficult to find un-biased views on Laurie that weren´t about Jo or Amy but Laurie himself as a character, his actions and his behaviour.
Emily: In a sense we are no better, when people first read ”Young Werther” by Goethe. People looked at Werther and were like ”Oh my God, we should all die suicide for love and I think Goethe was ”No, don´t do that, this was not about that”.
Niina: Yeah, he was criticising himself and his own behaviour as a young person. For those of you who are new here. Louisa based Laurie´s character arch to young Werther which is Goethe´s novel from the 18th century Germany. Just a little sidenote and Friedrich is based on Goethe on one-level. We will get into that.
Emily: Yes. In the other video. I read Werther in German. It´s a lovely read but you also see some of the ridicilousness of that kind of romantic vision because he really relates to these big storms, these thunder storms. It signifies his emotional events and it really makes fun of that and people at the time didn´t get that and people also don´t seem to get that now.
Niina: It is very harmful when suicide is being romanticised in general or trying to blackmail someone for ”romantic” reasons that is really harmful and that is something that is still not recoginised fully enough.
Emily: Like I said before if we are criticising that behaviour in books now, in fiction that is coming out now, then why can´t we change the way that we see this character. I wonder if people decide how they see him because of the films.
Niina: I´v been thinking about this a lot. The films they tend to include the same scenes. Then there are those scenes that are being dismissed. Laurie he is idealised and romanticised. His flaws are downgrated and with Amy it is the opposite.
Emily: Which is why some people get angry when they get together. You are missing all that nice context. I think really Little Women needs a proper show. Not even just a mini-series. We need a show. Otherwise you don´t pick up on all these really great scenes that add dimensions to these characters. I really liked that exploration you did based on Goethe because I hadn´t really seen that characater that way before. More discussions like these need to happen.
Niina: I just love this. This is great.
Emily: I am having a lot of fun.
Niina: Next people who are going to adapt Little Women, have a good listen of these talks we are having.
Emily: I hope so. I really hope so.
Niina: Both me and Emily are definitely available to be consultans on these matters and we know people who can help you more.
Emily: Hollywood needs to head us up. That´s our discussion on Laurie and Amy also on different films as well. Of course we went on different tangions on different characters because all these things are connected. I hope you enjoyed our discussion of Laurie.
Niina: Thank you for listening guys.
Emily: Thank you.
Louisa May Alcott, the germanophile
Poet Ezra Pound said that literature does not exist in a vacuum, and semi biographical novels are exactly that, semi biographical. A work of fiction strongly influence by events in an author's life.
Writer Janet Manley describes Fritz Bhaer as a perfect mystery, a perfect crush, he is the perfect text, a space offering up multiple interpretations. In the spirit, I explore Frederic's historical and cinematic evolution through gender studies, his and Jo's relationship, and the development of their romance, and how it correlated with Louisa May Alcott's own life, Louisa's adoration towards Germany and German culture.
I will touch the fan culture as well and how certain themes that have been repeated in the movies again and again affect the way people see Jo and Friedrich. The key ingredient in understanding Friedrich's character lies within Louisa May Alcott's love for Germany, German people, German language, German philosophy, and most importantly German literature. We might even refer Louisa May Alcott as a Germanophile, a person who has a great deal of interest towards German culture. Make sure to give a like to this video and subscribe to my channel, Small Umbrella In The Rain, for in-depth Little Women content.
There are multiple references to Germany in Little Women. On the very first chapter of Little Women, Jo receives a copy of Undine and Sintram as a Christmas present. Undine and Sintram is a collection of Scandinavian and Germanic fables written by a French-German author, Friedrich de la Motte Foque.
Beth catches the scarlet fever, which is terrible, but the Marches never blame the Hummels. Epidemic disease were rather common back then, and Louisa always writes about the Hummels with a great sympathy.
In the chapter Camp Lawrence, John Brooke translates a German song for Meg, and reads her parts from Mary Stuart, which is a play that was written by German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller. On Meg's and John's wedding, Laurie suggests that they dance like the Germans do.
When Jo stays in New York, her hostess in the boarding house, Mrs. Kirk. Kirk is an anglicized last name for German word Kirche, meaning church. When it comes to 19th century German culture and the influences of German immigration into American culture, Little Women saga is consistently favorable towards it.
Friedrich as Goethe
One of Louisa's favorite authors was the German poet Goethe. Goethe was one of the models for Friedrich's character. In Little Women, on her grand tour in Europe with Aunt March, Amy visits Goethe's house and writes home and tells about it.
On her first trip to Europe, Louisa herself made a pilgrimage to Goethe's house. Went to Wiesbaden first, a pleasant, gay place full of people. Saw the gambling hall and people playing, the fine grounds and drives. And then went to Frankfurt. Here I saw and enjoyed a good deal. The statues of Goethe, Schiller, Faust, Gutenberg, and Schaeffer, are in the squares. Goethe's house is a tall, plain building with each story projecting over the lower, and a Dutch roof. A marble slab over the front door recording the date of Goethe's birth. I took a look at it and wanted to go in, as it was empty. But there was no time.
The most obvious and most important German influence in Little Women is, of course, the love of Jo's life, Friedrich Bhaer. Little Women takes place in the feminine sphere, which is one of the biggest reasons why I and millions of other readers love it.
When it comes to main three male character, Laurie, Fritz, and John, Louisa did not write explicit backgrounds stories to any of them. To explore Friedrich's character and to get better understanding of him, we need to explore Louisa. Her personal life, philosophy, values, and of course her love for Germany.
Friedrich is introduced quite early on in the second novel, and Jo is curious about him from the moment she sees him. And she finds him to be a kindred spirit.
As I went downstairs soon after, I saw something I liked. The flights are very long in this tall house and as I stood waiting at the head of the third one, for a little servant girl to lumber up, I saw a gentleman come along behind her, take her heavy load of coal out of her hand, carry it all the way up, put it down at a door nearby, and walk away. Saying with a kind note and a foreign accent, "It goes better so. The little back is too young to have such heaviness."
Wasn't it good of him? I like such things. For as Father says, trifles show character. When I mentioned it to Mrs. K that evening, she laughed and said, "That must have been Professor Bhaer. He is always doing things of that sort."
Mrs. K told me he was from Berlin, very learned and good. But poor as a church mouse and gives lessons to support himself, and two little orphan nephews who he is educating here. According to the wishes of his sister, who married an American.
A Man from Berlin
Not a very romantic story, but it interested me, and I was glad to hear that Mrs. lends him her parlor for some of this scholars. There's a glass door between it and the nursery, and I meant to peep at him and then I'll tell you how he looks. He's almost 40, so it's no harm, Marmee.
Fritz is about 16 years older than Jo, which would mean that Friedrich is somewhere between 37 and 39 when they meet. There is a reason why Fritz is 16 years older than Jo. Louisa had a professor of her own and we'll get into that later on. In Little Women musical, Fritz is slightly younger. When he goes to court Jo, we find out that he has just had his 35th birthday. In the book, Friedrich returns to Jo's life during the springtime, some months after Beth's passing.
If we compare the two, we can make an assumption that Fritz was born in the spring. If Fritz is almost 40 after the American Civil War, this means that he was born some time between 1825 and 1827.
Fritz is very extroverted. He enjoys lively conversations, makes friends easily, sees beyond cultural boundaries. He's deeply religious, honest, cultured, but also quite a romantic. It is not a coincidence that Friedrich is from Berlin.
By the time Alcott wrote Little Women, Berlin was gaining more importance and would become the capital of the new German Empire in 1871. While being born and living Berlin, Fritz would have absorbed all that the city had to offer. Architecture, literature, churches, philosophy circles, symposiums, markets, and Biergartens.
It is mentioned in the book that Fritz speaks several languages, and in the books he speaks French a few times. Berlin was one of the most multicultural German cities in the 19th century, and there was a large French speaking immigrant population.
The fact that Fritz speaks several languages indicates that he has done some traveling, and is in that sense as much of a cosmopolitan as Amy and Laurie are.
We learn that Friedrich used to be a respected professor in Berlin and this only increases Jo's interest towards him.
Jo valued goodness highly but she also possessed a most feminine respect for intellect and a little discovery which she made about the professor added much to her regard for him. He never spoke of himself and no one ever knew that in his native city, he had been a man much honored for learning and integrity, till a countryman came to see him.
He never spoke of himself and in a conversation with Miss Norton divulged the pleasing fact. From her, Jo learned it and liked it all the better because Mr. Bhaer had never told it. She felt proud to know that he was an honored professor in Berlin, though only a poor language-master in America, and his homely, hardworking life was much beautified by the spice of romance which this discovery gave it.
Friedrich´s Journey to America
It is very likely that Louisa had Humboldt University in her mind. During the time when Louisa did her first visit to Germany, it was known as the University of Berlin. University was established in 1809, which makes it only fitting that Friedrich would have studied and worked as a professor there. University is known for producing some of the most well known German thinkers and philosophers.
We are not told a lot about Friedrich's family. We find out that he had a sister, Minna, who married an American and on her deathbed, she asked Fritz to take care of his nephews and raise them in America. It is not part of the canon, but I have read a couple fan fics where Minna's husband was an American journalists who abandoned his family and Minna was also quite possibly a journalist. This would explain why Friedrich does his best to look after the boys, wants to be a good role model, and someone who never abandons them. Book does imply that Friedrich and Minna were very close. This is a common narrative pattern in Louisa May Alcott's novels. In Work Story of Experience, the protagonist's love interest, David, has lost a connection with his sister. In Moods, the character of Jeffrey Moore takes care of his ill sister until she passes away. Of course, the loss of a sister is something that also bonds Jo and Fritz.
In the 19th century, German immigrants were the second biggest group of immigrants in the US, only surpassed by Irish immigrants. March family and the Alcotts in real life were descendants of Irish immigrants.
Between 1847 and 1855, German immigrants came to US in large numbers. Many came in the hopes of better way of life, others because of individual curiosity, economic hardships, political struggles, or religious persecutions. Many escaped the crop failure and famine.
When we first meet Friedrich, we find out that he has been living in New York for five years, which means that he arrived in 1860. In the early 1860s, many transportation across the Atlantic was made with sails and the trip could last one to three months. This would mean that Fritz would have arrived with a sailing ship that was designed for a cargo carriage. These ships were quite hazardous and accommodation were small and dark. The second wave of German immigrants arrived in the end of the 1860s, escaping the German wars. Friedrich's reasons for leaving his home country are family related. There are a couple occasions in Little Women that do give an impression that Fritz has faced oppression and discrimination, and Jo does make a note to herself that he must have had a hard life.
It is not a coincidence that Jo and Friedrich meet in New York, of all places. Many of the German immigrants moved into the cities in north, like New York, which already had established German communities. These communities were tight, and Friedrich comes to visit Jo in Concord, the reader finds out that he has German friends there. Louisa very intentionally included messages of social justice to her works. A lot of the details of Friedrich's backstory are not included in the movies and TV adaptations because of the screenwriters personal biases, xenophobia, and ignorance over the source material. Yes, this is going to be a video about Louisa May Alcott's inter-sectional feminism.
Louisa May Alcott was born into New England's transcendentalist movement. Transcendentalism was very much an American movement, but its roots were within German philosophy and romanticism. Especially in the transnational ideas of Immanuel Kant and his new ethic of universal hospitality. There are a couple basic principles within transcendentalist philosophy. Human beings are inherently good and pure. Nature was the ultimate mediator and expression of God was present all around. Self-reflection and being true to one's self was encouraged.
From a very early age, Louisa practice self-reflection and observance. And from her novels, Little Women and Old-Fashioned Girl, have biggest transcendentalist influences. Little Women film from 1994 is one of the rare adaptations with clear references to transcendentalism. When Jo meets Fritz, they talk about German philosophy. Jo mentions that her parents were part of a rather unusual circle in Concord, and she mentions that she adores Goethe. Friedrich quotes a poem from another transcendentalist, Walt Whitman, and Jo joins him.
Transcendentalists believe that it was through the observation and appreciation of nature that the human soul was enlightened. The idea of being true, authentic self becomes part of their conversation. Transcendentalist love for nature can be seen in the movie in the presence of flowers and plants in the outdoors and indoors. Proposal scene in the movie movie and in the book takes place in nature and it correlates the way in the book Friedrich has kept Jo's poem. Be worthy of love and love will come in the falling of summer rain. Louisa May Alcott was surrounded by the greatest thinkers of her time. Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Father Bronson Alcott showed her an idealistic and ultimately unworkable version of the movement.
Throughout Louisa's childhood, Bronson pursued philosophical ideas by establishing The Temple School, where he sought to teach children according to his transcendental ideas. Some of Bronson's ideas were too radical for the parents and eventually he was forced to resign when he took a black child as a student. Soon after the closing of The Temple School, the family moved to farmstead to establish a utopian society called Fruitlands. There they attempted to live off the land, follow a strict vegetarian diet, and more fully implement the ideas that Bronson deemed important.Fruitlands was a terrible failure. The Alcotts were subjected to backbreaking work, but barely survived the winter. After a little less than a year on the homestead, they left. Although Louisa had seen her father's transcendentalist projects fail, she still believed in the philosophy as much as he did, and blamed the setbacks on poor planning and execution.It was after this that they moved to Concord, where the transcendentalist movement started to take shape. Emerson was good friend of Bronson and Louisa frequently borrowed books from Emerson's library and learned about nature from Henry David Thoreau.
Margaret Fuller made an everlasting impression on Louisa with her philosophy and feminist ideas. It was unusual for the time for mother to work outside the home, but Abba Alcott did. Bronson had determination to give his daughters proper education, also unusual for the time. Abba had less interest towards the ideological side of transcendentalism, but more in what practical tools transcendentalism offered. Louisa had mixed emotions about transcendentalism. Intrigued and inspired by the ideal of self-reliance, she still knew from firsthand experience that self-reliance really meant reliance on others and required the self-sacrifice of family members. Louisa wanted to tie the two opposite knots of her parents ideas. This drew her to Ralph Waldo Emerson's theories and ideas, as the represented a more complete way of living out of the transcendental philosophy. Her journals illustrate her love for his philosophies, calling him the man who has helped me most by his life, his books, his society. Emerson's philosophy on how good deeds bring happiness and satisfaction to one's life deeply affected Louisa and her written works. Louisa was as well heavily affected by Goethe's ideas of self-reliance. Topic of self-reliance is a constant theme in Little Women and is essentially important when getting to know the characters.
Blogger Katie Rhone points out "As a German immigrant, Professor Bhaer understands and experiences hard work and struggle. He bears in mind the responsibility he has in caring for a woman, if he is to marry. He is more grounded and stable than Laurie, whose idealized hopes of marriage remind me of Louisa's own description of her imprudent father." Quote, "He was a man in a balloon, with his family holding the ropes trying to hold him down to earth."
Here's a quote from Little Women.
"In a minute, a hand came down over the page so that she could not draw, and Laurie's voice said, with a droll imitation of a penitent child, "I will be good. Oh I will be good."
"But Amy did not laugh, for she was in earnest and tapping on the opposite hand with her pencil, said soberly, "Aren't you ashamed of a hand like that? It's as soft and white as a woman's and looks as if it never did anything but wear Jouvin's best gloves and pick flowers for ladies."
Amy, being a working class girl, she doesn't have any problems reminding Laurie that he has not worked a day in his life.
Many Alcott scholars believe that the poor nutrition in Fruitlands might have affected on Louisa's hormonal balance. Same as Jo, Louisa was a tomboy. Louisa was very protective of her mother, who she adored, and her love for her family was fierce. From very early on, she took the role of the provider, or the way Jo describes herself as the man of the house.
Anna Alcott was 11 years older than her little counterpart, Meg March, when she married. Same way as Jo grieved Meg marrying, so did Louisa. Not because John, the real and the fictional one, was a bad person, but because it meant the change in the family dynamics.
In the book, Jo says that she'd rather marry Meg herself, which has led many to believe that Jo is a lesbian. But with Jo there is no context for her fear because Jo's childhood was quite safe and idyllic, whereas Louisa's was more unstable and turbulent. Family went through a lot together.
Louisa was upset when Anna announced that she was getting married. Anna was 28 at the time and Louisa was 27. It happened only three weeks after they had lost their sister Lizzie. Louisa wished to keep the family together and fear of losing it is understandable. If you do research on transcendentalist, you will soon find out that there was a great deal of gender fluidity. I would highly recommend Susan Bailey's article on the 19th century female relationship in Little Women. I'll add the link to the description.
We live in a culture in which it is common not to try and understand what the other says and means. In this case, the author. But to assume it is some preconceived idea or trope we have in our heads, we love something, that we hate, we love, or we want to think that we are. It is a pity that it is so, because when we erase the fragility and faults of characters, we deprive ourselves from seeing the reflection of our own in them, and learn and grow. Masculinity and femininity are social structures made of biological and culture factors. Jo struggles to find a balance between the two, during the time that the world between man and woman was separated. There's a stereotype that Jo is quite adventurous. Is she? She's quite adventurous inside her head and she's good at making up stories and likes acting. Writing is a safe escape to live vicariously, because she can do that from a safe place. With Laurie, she can live on boy's world through his masculine energy.
Jo likes to speak about sports and such, but because of her gender she's prevented to join any teams. In the first book, after Laurie pretended to be John Brooke and catfished Meg with letters and deeply hurt her, which is not never included in any movie adaptations, he asks Jo to go to Washington with him and surprise Mr. Brooke. Jo is tempted by the idea, but she sees that such a trip is Laurie's way of getting away from his grandfather.
Jo likes to dream but she knows that reality will be completely different, and Laurie never grows if he doesn't learn from his mistakes. Louisa's attempt, however, is not to make certain habits in a person clearly masculine or feminine, but to blur the lines. Jo is good at sewing and in fact she's a good dressmaker, likes to knit and mend clothes. Louisa herself liked sewing. We see all the girls sewing together in the beginning of the 1933 film, and the 1949 film Jo sews and knits. In the book, Jo sees that Mr. Bhaer is mending his own socks and she's both surprised and impressed about it. She's impressed how self-reliant he is.
Some readers have found it odd how Jo wants to start a school for boys. When Jo sees the hungry look in Laurie's eyes when he looks at her family, she practically adopts him. Louisa in her personal life was devoted to charity work and she worked as a nurse. Taking care of others was something that came naturally to her.
Gender fluidity continues in the sequels. Character of Nat is very sensitive, musical, and a lot like Laurie. Dan is almost too masculine and doesn't want to show his vulnerability. In Little Men, Jo's niece Daisy complains how boys won't include her into their games, and Jo privately thinks that in the house that is filled with boys the only girl is the most difficult to please.
She gets Daisy a small toy stove and teaches her to cook, while turning it into a play. This is not the 15 year old Jo who thinks that everyone should be like her. Instead, she supports Daisy's individuality. Daisy's femininity is balanced by Nan, who is another tomboy. Even her name is a mixture between Nan and Dan.Jo doesn't like to go to parties or social events, like Meg and Amy do. She'd rather stays at home and writes. Jo doesn't fit well to Concord or the traditional female role. She's allowed to be herself in her home. She does compare herself to Meg and the way she's treated differently for being traditionally feminine.
Same happens with Amy in the second book. Jealousy Jo sometimes feels is caused by the fact that her sisters are better accepted than she is because of her nonconformity, and this causes Jo feelings of isolation. In chapter Calls, she rather speaks to pets and plays with the children of the house then talks with the adults. Jo makes the assumption that the aunts take her to Europe, even after when she has blurted to Aunt Carol that she hates French. Neither she seemed to have put much effort to study languages, which would be quite important if she would have seriously wanted to go to Europe with the aunts.
Jo dreams about the foreign, but if she was abroad, especially with people like Aunt March who she had difficult relationship with, Jo would be rather homesick.
In New York, Jo hesitates in the door of the newspaper quite a while when she tries to sell her first story. She rather spends time with Friedrich than goes to see new acquaintances. And in her letters to Marmee and Beth, she writes that she feels shy among strangers.
Friedrich is based on several people in Louisa's life, and I have traced Friedrich to five different men and I intend to talk about all of them in these essays. I agree with many Alcott scholars that philosopher Henry David Thoreau was the real life Friedrich. I have made an entire video about his and Louisa's relationship. Check it out after you have finished this one.
I am now going to read you some passages from Little Women and Walter Harding's Thoreau biography.
Thoreau invited the Alcotts in for the Sunday dinner. Thoreau quickly realized that Alcott provided a very different intellectual fare than did even the most stimulating Concord farmer. The two found much in common to talk about and Alcott often read to Thoreau from his correspondence with his English disciples on theories of education. While the rest of the world was denouncing Bronson Alcott as an impractical dreamer, Thoreau was able to overlook his faults and foibles, of which there were unquestionably meany.
Little Women, chapter Surprises. Mr. Bhaer's face had lost the absentminded expression and looked all alive with interest in the present moment. Actually young and handsome, she thought, forgetting to compare him with Laurie as she usually did with strange men.
Then he seemed quite inspired, though the burial customs of the ancients, to which the conversation had strayed, might not be considered an exhilarating topic. Jo quite glowed with the triumph when Teddy got quenched in an argument, and thought to herself as she watched her father's absorbed face, how he would enjoy such a man as my professor to talk with every day.
This part reminded me the way Jo notices how Friedrich is helping the servant girl.
Even the household maids were delighted, for Thoreau was already ready and willing to mend what was broken, even before they would call them to his attention.
Henry appears in multiple disguises in Louisa's novels. He's Friedrich in Little Women, Dan Kean in Little Men and Jo's Boys, Adam Warwick in Moods, David in Work Story of Experience, and Mack in Rose In Bloom, just to name a few.
Many of Louisa's diary markings about Henry are censored. Still, 160 years ago people had right to their privacy.
Thank you for watching, guys. Next video is going to be all about the umbrella and the way Jo wishes that she would have someone to help her with her writings, much before she travels to New York. Make sure to tune back for it.
You can find my full Friedrich Bhaer research here.
Sarah Davenport as Jo and Ian Bohen as Freddy (Fritz) Bhaer in this modern adaptation of Little Women.
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.