Gender Stereotypes In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women

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Throughout the 1800’s, gender stereotypes proved to dominate over men and women. Women were to be domestic while men worked to provide for a family. In Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, Jo March is a rambunctious sixteen-year-old girl who knows how a proper lady should act but takes a step up against these standards. Jo contradicts gender stereotypes many times throughout Little Women, while showing a bold independence throughout the story by earning a job writing in New York. Leaving home, finding work as a writer, and not marrying for money demonstrates Jo’s thoughts regarding 19th century stereotypes. In contrast to a typical woman in the 19th century, Jo often exhibits strong independence while helping her family and others. When Mr. …show more content…
Jo demonstrates the opposite when love becomes a prominent factor in her life. Jo has a strong willed personality that leads her to speaking her mind and marrying for true love, not for money. Alcott includes many hints of Laurie’s strong love for Jo eventually leading to Laurie’s proposal. Laurie confesses to Jo, “I’ve loved you ever since I’ve known you, Jo, I couldn't help it, you've been so good to me. I've tried to show it, but you wouldn’t let me; now I’m going to make you hear, and give me an answer, for I can’t go on so any longer” (350). Jo finds it hard to speak because she knows that Laurie is not the man whom she truly loves. She follows her heart and rejects the proposal telling Laurie, “I don't believe it's the right sort of love, and I'd rather not try it” (352). Jo’s free spirit leads her to decline Laurie’s marriage proposal, even though she knows that Laurie has money and a good education which would be able to provide for a future family. Knowing that she is not yet ready to settle down and get married, Jo waits to meet the man she truly loves, ready to accept all the traits he has to offer her. Another example of Jo’s bold personality is when she begins to fall in love with Professor Bhaer while in New York. Jo knows that the professor is, “...very learned and good, but poor as a church mouse...”, yet she does not allow his financial status to prevent her from falling in love and wanting to be with him for the rest of her life (325). Jo chooses to marry Professor Bhaer for true love and not for money, knowing that the professor is the one person that makes her very happy. Jo and Professor Bhaer marry and open a school for boys in Aunt March’s old house (463). Jo works at the school alongside her husband, unlike many “domestic and dependent” women in the 19th century who often take care of a family, allowing their husband to work and provide

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