Tag Archives: American Literature

Little Women

Bah! No internet again (or at least, very, very, very bad internet) has it’s pros and cons. Con: I can’t watch any films or TV (Dear White People, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, wait for me) and obviously I have been having trouble blogging. But pros: I have been doing so much reading. I am finally making my way through Harry Potter in French, which I had been distracted from because it’s difficult and, you know, Youtube. I’ve read Band of Brothers and am trying to decide between the book and the television series as to which is better. And, longest of all, I read Little Women. (Spoilers ahead.)

What struck me most about this book was how dated it was. Usually with classics, despite being set in an older time, they’re different for their time – think of Jane Eyre‘s modern look at women, or the way Jane Austen and Charles Dickens mock or challenge society in their works. This is not Little Women. It’s moral, religious, and while women can be independent, there are still very much set gender roles. This was surprising for me, and despite the fact the book was enjoyable I did find these things distract me from the story: I would find myself, instead of being swept along with the plot, stopping to think about how out-dated this or that idea was.

Some things were modern, Jo being the most obvious example. The way she turned down Laurie and just generally lived – wanting to travel, writing her books and compromising herself in order to earn money – were novel. When she changed to writing only what she wanted to, this was a decision that made sense to me, but other such changes didn’t. This was actually true for most of the characters’ development – all of the women seemed to become ‘perfect’ almost instantaneously, especially Jo and Amy. At the beginning of the book they all had their flaws; by the end they all had none. It particularly irritated me that Jo gave up her writing dreams as soon as she got married – it wasn’t a case of her deciding to settle, she just no longer cared, just like that. It made no sense to me.

I did like the different writing styles Louisa May Alcott used – letters, newsletters, plays, poems – as well as prose. And please don’t misunderstand me; I did really enjoy the book! The way it dealt with death was refreshing and I liked a lot of the religious themes and conversations as it isn’t often you read books where the characters are that open with their religion. But it isn’t my favourite classic, and there were problems with it, the character development being a particular issue for me. I don’t think I’ll revisit it for a while, but maybe it improves upon second viewing. And if the internet keeps up the way it is at the moment, I might have to resort to a reread sooner than I previously thought!