Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Essay

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Essay

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Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is an engaging and remarkable “snapshot” of its time. Written in response to a publisher’s request for a “girls’ book,” Little Women is a timeless classic of domestic realism, trailing the lives of four sisters from adolescence through early adulthood. The life-like characters and their tales break some of the stereotypes and add to the strength of the plot that embeds the last few years of the Industrial Revolution and social customs and conflicts, such as the Civil War, of the 1800s. Often moralistic and emotional, the novel nonetheless genuinely portrays family life in the mid-nineteenth century United States. The four “little women” of the March family journey into womanhood, learning difficult lessons of poverty and hard work along the way. The inspiring story is presented with an affectionate tone, symbolism, bold character traits and reference to the classic novel Pilgrim’s progress; a Christian allegory.

Little Women is loosely based on May Alcott’s own family life; made obvious from the affectionate tone that she uses to describe her characters. Each sister's personal struggles are described with devoted detail, as though the narrator sympathizes with every conflict the characters bare. Sometimes the narrator even goes to great lengths to explain the context of the conflict and why they react to things the way that they do. For example, when Mr. Davis, Amy’s teacher whips hers on her hand for bringing pickled limes to school, she grows paranoid of the situation and so do all her sisters. Marmee even pulls her out of the school. To us, all thit seems quite extreme. But the narrator really wants us to understand why they reacted so strongly:
"To others it might seem a ludicrous or trivial ...

... middle of paper ...

... "little tripping maids" is no reason that they can't follow "saintly feet" and go on a deep spiritual journey through life. This passage contains guidelines for what the story is supposed to do. Unlike novels that are meant only to entertain their readers, Little Women is also meant to chaperon readers toward their own self-improvement and salvation.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott has greatly enriched my understanding, as a reader, about poverty, salvation, religion and most importantly, the transformation of young girls into strong women. The book is impressively written, displaying a combination of symbolism, characters that are hard not to adore and hints of important American history. This novel is crafted with a loving tone. At the end of the novel, the little women had grown and I, as a reader was compelled to read on about their lives as they continued.

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