October 12, 2012
Little Women – A Literary Comparison of Movie and Book
Little Women” written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868 has been recreated in four television series, four made for TV movies, and five feature length movies since 1918. The most recent version made in 1994 featuring such well known actresses as Wynona Ryder as the beloved Jo, and Susan Sarandon as Marmee. Rarely does a reader find satisfaction with a movie after reading the book, as the book most always brings us more depth into the lives of our favorite characters. Since I have not seen the other movie versions of the novel, I cannot say what differences there were between the book and the other movies. The 1994 movie version starring Winona Ryder as Jo, Susan Sarandon as Marmee, Claire Danes as Beth, Kirsten Dunst as Amy, and Trini Alvarado as Meg is the movie version I chose for my comparison. As a movie lover, I enjoyed the movie yet was disappointed somewhat with it after having read the book. I saw this movie when it first came out and absolutely fell in love with the March family. I wanted to be one of the sisters, live in that house, and spend time with them. I’ve never read the book until now because I’ve always been intimidated by the size of it. It took me a while to read, but it was definitely worth it. The book is split into two parts: part one ending once Meg gets married. The movie follows part one of Little Women almost exactly. Both start out on Christmas Eve with the girls singing before going to bed. On Christmas morning, Hannah makes a wonderful feast that the girls bring to the Hummel’s, a poor family in town that they look after. The party that Jo and Meg are invited to is exactly like the book. Jo burns off a piece of Meg’s hair, which is captured beautifully in the movie. Jo dodges a boy that wants to dance with her at the party which lands her in an alcove where she meets Laurie for the first time. Laurie tells Jo all about his time abroad. Jo and Laurie dance in the hallway where no one can see them so Jo will not be embarrassed by the burn on the back of her dress. They run into Meg who has sprained her ankle, and Laurie offers to take them home in his carriage. Jo and Laurie’s friendship blooms from this point on as does his relationship with the March family. Their friendship feels just as effortless in the book as it appears on screen. In the movie, the March girls play in the snow with Laurie while Mr. Brooke approaches Marmee and Meg. Mr. Brooke is not introduced this early in the book. We do not meet him until about a quarter of the way into the book. The girls also do not spend as much time with Laurie so early in the book. A speedy procession of the relationships was a necessity in the movie because of having to cram so much information into a two hour presentation. However, I really enjoyed in the book how Laurie remained a mystery for a while. Piquing both the Jo’s and the reader’s attention. In both the book and movie Amy is struck by her teacher for the limes, Jo writes about her inner struggles for having to conform to the ways of society, and the March girls have their secret society of plays and the Pickwick Portfolio. They accept Laurie as a member and he gives the girls a ‘post office’ for them to share “their most appalling secrets.” Beth and Mr. Laurence have a much larger part in the books. Beth is often going next door to use Mr. Laurence’s piano, and plays the music that he secretly places out for her. Beth reminds Mr. Laurence of his daughter that passed away at a young age, and so he dotes upon her. Amy is just as jealous in the movie as she is in the book that Meg and Jo get to go to the theater with Laurie and John. Amy burns Jo’s manuscript that she’s been writing for years. Jo lashes out and yells at Amy saying she never wants to see her again. Amy apologizes, but Jo ignores her because she’s so upset....