Little Women, By Louisa May Alcott Essay

Little Women, By Louisa May Alcott Essay

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The connotation of the word “little” in Louisa May Alcott’s infamous novel, Little Women, has been a very controversial topic. Many critics argue the point that “little” has a negative connotation that diminishes women and therefore Alcott’s book is encouraging women to become little. While others argue that the word “little” refers to the physical miniaturization which still includes the same good qualities of an ideal woman (Armstrong, Here Little 453). Although these viewpoints may be valid in some instances throughout the book, they are not valid for the whole book. I assert that the connotation for the word “Little” changes from being negative to good, depending on the context it is used in, throughout the book and does diminish women but through the characters’ struggles, Alcott shows how women overcome that title and grow to a women with all of the good qualities in a perfect woman.
The connotation of “little” changes with the context it is used in, because some characters in the book use it affectionately while others use it to diminish the young ladies. For example, at the beginning of the novel the March sisters’ father sends them a letter in which he calls them little women (Alcott, Little Women 15). The context in which little women is used by the father is an affectionate adjective to encourage the March sisters to behave and strive to become good people. Going back to the very beginning of the story, Amy is described as little which in this context means small and vulnerable, because at that moment Amy is sniffing and the sniff is described as injured, suggesting vulnerability, a negative connotation (Alcott, Little Women 2). Another positive connotation is seen towards the ending of the book where Jo’s book is refe...


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...learn to become unique while still conforming to the nineteenth century women ideals. Little Women shows how women have been verbally oppressed and how women should combat the oppression by being unique in their own ways, like the March sisters (Armstrong Here Little 472).
In Little Women, the word “little” is used in a good and bad connotation, depending on the context, but the word itself is used in a diminutive way to show how women overcome oppression and positively impact the world around them. The March sister’s father refers to them as little women in an encouraging way, while when used to first describe Amy it resembles Amy’s vulnerability. The connotation of “little” is determined by the situation of the noun it is describing. Louisa Alcott uses the term “little women” to express women oppression and show how women can in their uniqueness combat oppression.

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