Womanliness In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women

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Louisa May Alcott explores the notion of womanliness in the 1896 novel Little Women. The characteristics and traits of a little woman are portrayed through the young March sisters, and are further perpetuated and developed in older women in the novel. Each of the March sisters embodies a different stereotype of women’s persona in the beginning of the novel which all appear to contrast one another. Meg, the eldest sister, acts wise and old and as she is too young for little girl’s games. Jo fulfils the tomboy role as their father has left for the war and she feels there should be a manly presence in the house. Beth is wholesome and pure, while being shy and consistently babied. Amy embodies the stereotype of the youngest spoilt child who desires elegance and grace. …show more content…
Mrs. March (or Marmee), Hannah and Aunt March each play stereotypical older women’s roles that point out the discrepancies in the March sisters ‘womanliness’, instead presenting them as young girls. Alcott’s criteria to be a little woman are indicated during the story through the use of each of the characters. Marmee working while her husband is away at war is indicative of the sacrifices woman must make for their happiness in place of others. The consistent referral to marriage demonstrates the expectations that women have placed on them and the caring role the must assume. Using the older women, Alcott identifies how childish the March sisters are, and how they need to grow up to adopt the roles that are expected of them as little

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