Little Women

An examination of the main characters in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” is a fictionalized, autobiographical story. Though she loosely bases the characters on herself and her three sisters, there are differences among them. This paper examines the four sisters and their roles in the family and society, as well as parallels to Alcott’s actual life. After analyzing the characters, the paper takes a look at the discrepancies between the film versions and the novel itself.
Jo March appears to be Louisa May Alcott’s alter ego in the novel Little Women. Louisa May Alcott’s biography bears this idea out. Like the fictional character Jo, Alcott was considered a tomboy. On the Orchard House web site, the site of Alcott’s home, attests to her tomboyishness; no boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race, she [Louisa] claimed, and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences…. Early in the first chapter of Little Women, Alcott introduces Jo as a tomboy, Poor Jo! It’s too bad, but it can’t be helped. So you must try to be contented with making your name boyish, and playing brother to us girls, said Beth (Alcott, Chapter 1). Another other obvious similarity between Alcott and Jo, is their love of writing, which goes hand in hand with both being bookworms (Alcott, Chapter 1). Alcott’s biography states that she spent her early days with visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library and excursions into the nature with Henry David Thoreau (Louisa May Alcott). Alcott, using the pseudonym A.M. Barnard, wrote the sensational stories as did Jo in order to supplement the family income and both found joy in making their family’s life easier. In Kim Wells’ masters thesis, she describes the works as gothic potboilers filled with feminist femme fatales and smut (at least by Victorian standards). ”