Kimberly PluggeEnglish 2063Dr WhiteNovember 18 2014The Essay

Submitted By kplugge
Words: 661
Pages: 3

The March Women The first time I read Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women, I was at a very impressionable age: middle school. Seeing the relationship between the novel’s four sisters made me think of my own family, and the girls’ problems, despite the fact that they took place in the nineteenth century, gave me insight into my own. I empathized with Jo’s frustration at her role, the family’s problems with money and missing Mr. March, and even Meg’s disastrous forays into society. Although the problems were not identical to my own by any means, the book was comforting. At the time, I read it as a story of family only. However, in the intervening years, I have noticed that Little Women is also a feminist text in the sense that it is very concerned with the roles of women, and in the sense that women do not always play typical roles for the time period in which the book was both written and set. In what ways can the women of Little Women be seen as feminist role-models or beings? As someone who has studied both women’s studies and children’s literature, I am uniquely qualified to try to understand this aspect of Little Women. I have taken classes and done a fair amount of reading, and thus have a basic understanding of feminism. My studies in history have also given me insight into what the roles of women around the time of the Civil War would be, and I can compare that to what the roles of the girls in the story actually are. For example, Jo provides for her family in many ways in the absence of her father. This was a rare situation for a girl of her class at the time. By looking at the women of Little Women and reading and analyzing scholarship on the book, I can gain a better understanding of how the women in the book can serve as interesting role models to the students reading Little Women today. My research will begin with a close reading of Little Women itself, in order to understand the varying roles that the women of the story play in the family structure and with regard to the society in which they find themselves. I will also use history texts—mainly secondary sources—to provide some background on women’s roles that would have been typical at the time. I will undertake my own analysis but will bolster it with wide reading of literary criticism of Little Women in all its forms, including the movies that have been made over the years based on the novel. I will also look at the ways in which the novel is taught today in the classroom with the