Devotion to Family and Parental Approval: Theme of Novel, Little Women

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  • Topic: Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, Marriage
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  • Published : November 20, 2012
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Themes in Little Women
English 472

Devotion to the family and parental approval are themes weaved throughout Little Women, a novel by Louisa May Alcott. Alcott details the lives of Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy to show their gradual maturation and acceptance of traditional familial roles as they would have been in 19th Century New England. The story opens with the father of the March family away at war and the women in the family pull together to get by in his absence. The scenes of them working together in the house to be sure that everything was done, and the scenes of them passing time together were very touching. During the hardship they stayed together and grew closer together. This tone in the family is set by Mrs. March. She is the voice of faith and reason in Alcott’s story. The girls not only heed her advice but seek it out frequently as if she were an oracle. Alcott introduces the reader to the four March sisters with descriptions of their general look and characteristics. Jo is utterly unladylike, Meg and Amy are vain and envious of other girls and Beth is a painfully shy homebody. As soon as Mrs. March enters the room, all girls rush immediately to attend to their matriarch. Even Mr. March gives direction from the warfront in a letter to his family. “I know they… will do their duties faithfully, fight their bosom enemies bravely, and conquer themselves so beautifully that when I come back to them I may be fonder and prouder than ever of my little women (p. 12). The enemies the sisters must face in the first few chapters are selfishness, temper, discontent and quarrelsomeness. The will defeat their enemies as long as they can exercise self-control. To fail in theses endeavors would be to deny the wishes of their mother and father: possibly the worst offense they can imagine. Jo is most obvious example of subversion of cultural and parental norms. Initially she wants nothing to do with marriage and the domestic life. Jo feels her temper is her greatest...
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