Little Women was written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March are raised in genteel poverty by their loving mother, Marmee, in a quiet Massachusetts town while their father serves as an army chaplain during the American Civil War. They befriend Theodore Lawrence (Laurie), the lonely grandson of a rich old man next door. The leading force of the family is Jo, a headstrong tomboy who is the emotional centre of the book. Little women teaches society about the danger of gender stereotyping, the necessity of work, women’s struggle between family duty and personal growth and the importance of being genuine.

Feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” We live in a world where the genders are far from equal, which serves to harm both men and women alike. There are aspects of each March sister that can embody all of us. The steadfastness of Meg, Jo’s strong mindedness. Beth’s virtues and the determination of Amy. Despite their feminism looking different from modern day feminism, they were ahead of their times with their actions and ideals. This characterization of women is seen in ‘Little Women’ as well, with the four sisters being completely different people, pursuing their own lives, and making choices that they’re happy with. Split into two parts, (one emphasizing the sisters as younger girls, under the age of eighteen, and the second part exploring their lives as adults), we grow up with the sisters and understand their trials and what makes them strong in mind, heart, soul, and body. Their paths change as they grow up. They experience love, loss, and life. Louisa May Alcott let them all choose their destinies, which is what feminism really is: Choice. Feminism doesn’t have to mean going out there and dramatically changing the world for other women, though it’s admirable and important. Feminism is about having options and choices as a woman and pursuing the path that makes you happiest. “Little Women” ultimately helps readers to reflect on their experiences, find ways to relate to the characters and navigate their journeys.

Meg is the eldest March sister and she followed in her Marmee’s footsteps by marrying the poor tutor next door. They married for love but struggled with money, moving into a small cottage and having twins right away. While Jo was trying to talk Meg out of marrying John on her wedding day, Meg makes a point about having different dreams doesn’t mean they’re wrong or invalid. She even questions her decisions in life later on when she sees her friends purchasing beautiful things and knows she can’t afford fabric for a dress, but buys it anyway. Meg March teaches society that even if your dreams are different to other peoples doesn’t mean that they aren’t important or valid. She teaches society to follow your heart and believe in love. “Just because my dreams are different than yours, doesn’t make them unimportant.”

Jo’s tomboyish nature and understanding that she could do more if she were born a boy is heart breaking. But she doesn’t let that get in the way of her future and the way she wants to live it. She goes to New York to pursue her writing after turning down a marriage proposal. Stepping away from her family to pursue her dreams is important for her growth. Jo is an amalgamation of her creator. Though forced to marry her character off in the end, Alcott herself didn’t marry, choosing to live her life in spinsterhood. we can appreciate how tough her life must have been, having different interests than other girls, and still following what made her happiest instead of conforming to the rules of society. Jo teaches society that you should follow your dreams. You should work hard and not let a man constrict you or tell you what you can and cannot do. You can accomplish great things and you shouldn’t settle for less based on your gender. “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for.”

Even Beth, sweet Beth, made her own choices. She was always a child at heart and in practice, continuing to play with dolls and staying close to home instead of going out to dances as she grew up. Some girls are introverts and make the choice to not pursue relationships outside of the family. It’s no wonder she chose the character most like herself to experience one of the saddest and traumatic moments in her life, the death of a younger sister, as the turning point. Jo used Beth’s death to write a story about her life and her sisters, catapulting her career and taking it in the direction she wanted — to be a published author. Beth teaches society to be happy and look after the people you love. Even though Beth doesn’t have big dreams like her sisters, her main dream is for her sisters and herself to be happy and content in life. Beth is a selfless character and puts others before herself. “I’ll be homesick for you. Even in heaven.”

Amy March is probably the most controversial character in terms of the choices she made and where she eventually ended up. Louisa May Alcott said, “Nothing is impossible to a determined woman.” A quote that represents Amy March. She was actually the strongest and most determined to create the life she wanted for herself. Not shying away from the fact that she most definitely wanted to marry a rich man so she could enjoy the finer things in life, she took advantage of the opportunities she was given: travelling to Europe with Aunt March and courting the eligible gentleman. But wanting nice things and marrying into money is not a character flaw. Amy March teaches society to be determined and strong willed. She has big dreams of becoming a painter and travelling. She feels as if she is always second to her sister Jo. She speaks her mind and takes opportunities when she is presented with them. Some readers don’t like Amy March because they think she is outspoken but I believe she is an amazing role model for girls and teaches them not to settle for less and always take opportunities. Amy March says, “I’m just a woman. And as a woman, I have no way to make money, not enough to earn a living and support my family. Even if I had my own money, which I don’t, it would belong to my husband the minute we were married. If we had children they would belong to him, not me. They would be his property. So, don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is.” This quote is my favourite quote in all classic novels. It teaches society about what life was like in the 18th century and the quote is so strong, powerful and influential.

Macarena Tucat is a girl from Surrey who has read ‘Little Women’, this is what she said about the novel and what feminism means to her: “I believe in the principles of feminism, women should be equal to men and be given the same opportunities. This book is inspirational as is shows that even though each girl is very different and have different dreams they also know what they want in life and how to take control of the situation. They make sure their voice is heard. This novel almost reminds me of my friends as we all have different dreams and aspirations but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important.’ Overall, Little Women is an excellent novel which shows feminism and it is a book that everyone should read. Each girl is different but they are all equally as important. Even though they want different things out of life, they still have similar beliefs and want to be the best version of themselves.