Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Ministry of Education
Sara Hussein Mohammed Faqeeh
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Purpose of the Study
Significance of the Study
Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.2. The Life of Louisa May Alcott
2.3. The Works of Louisa May Alcott
2.4. Little Women
Chapter 3: The Little Women of Louisa Alcott
3.2. Major Characters
3.2.1. Character of Josephine "Jo" March
3.2.2. Character of Margaret "Meg" March
3.2.3. Character of Elizabeth "Beth" March
3.2.4. Character of Amy Curtis March
3.2.5. Character of Marmee (Mrs. March)
Recommendations for Further Study
The research aims at a study of the novel Little Women of Louisa Alcott. The research is structured in the following way the first chapter deals with the purpose of the study, research questions, and the significance of the study. The second chapter deals with Life and Works of Louisa May Alcott. The third chapter Major Women Characters in Little Women. This is followed by the conclusion and the bibliography.
1.1 Introduction of the Chapter
This chapter discusses the overall structure of the research. This chapter, in other words, it serves as a prelude to the research.
1.2 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to make a detailed study of the qualities of the characters. There are five women characters in the novel and each of them is analyzed in detail.
1.3 Research Questions
Who are the main women characters in the novel?
Are they flat characters or round characters?
In what way do these characters influence the development of the plot?
1.4 Significance of the Study
Characters are one of the important elements of fiction. Characters analysis is very important in order to understand a literary work. Therefore, this research will be useful for students of literature in analyzing characters.
This chapter deals with the literature review. It discusses the life and works of Louisa May Alcott and presents a brief summary of the novel Little Women.
The Life of Louisa May Alcott
Famed novelist Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He was an American novelist and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886). Alcott was taught by her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, until 1848, she also grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Residing in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts. According to the biography site, "Alcott was a best-selling novelist of the late 1800s, and many of her works, most notably Little Women, remain popular today.
At age 15, Alcott's family suffered financial difficulties, and while she worked to help support the family. From an early age, she vowed: "I will do something by and by. Dont care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and Ill be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I wont!
In 1862, during the Civil War Louisa worked as a nurse in Washington. Here she contracted mercury poisoning from medicine used to treat the wounded. She suffered from the effects of mercury poisoning for the rest of her life, finally dying of it in Boston in 1888.
2.3. The Works of Louisa May Alcotts
Louisa was 21 in 1854, when her first book was published, but she was only 16 when she first told the fairy tales, Flower Fables to young Ellen Emerson. Alcotts last book, A Garland for Girls, was published in 1888, the year of her death. Like Flower Fables, A Garland for Girls was a collection of fairy tales; these Louisa told to Lulu, the child bequeathed to her by May Alcott, her youngest sister. During her 55 years, Louisa produced hundreds of works plays, stories, novels, poems, journals, and letters. By her bedside, at her death, was an unfinished story.
A Modern Mephistopheles (1877) is a novel based on the Faust story, in the lurid style, published anonymously after Alcotts public image as The Childrens Friend became a commodity too valuable to be risked
There are also many novels as Lost in a Pyramid; or, The Mummy's Curse, The Inheritance (1849, unpublished until 1997), An Old Fashioned Girl (1870), Will's Wonder Book (1870), Under the Lilacs (1878), On Picket Duty, and Other Tales (1864), Hospital Sketches (1863), Pauline's Passion and Punishment, Perilous Play, (1869), and Aunt Jos Scrap Bag (1871-1879). In all, Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories.
2.4. Little Women
Little Women chronicles approximately fifteen years in the life of the March family. Little Women was, and remains, Alcotts best-known and most widely read work of the family of the author Louisa May Alcott. According to the gradesaver site,
The Marches live in Concord, Massachusetts, and the book begins at Christmas, 1861, during the Civil War. It was her first novel for young girls and was so popular that her audience demanded sequels, a request that Alcott fulfilled, although most readers believe that Little Women is the most compelling of Alcotts novels about the March family. Part I of the book covers just over one year.
As the novel opens, the four girlsthe oldest, Meg (sixteen), tomboyish Jo (fifteen), sweet Beth (thirteen), and the youngest, Amy (twelve), who live with their mother during the Civil War. The March family is relatively poor, though they can still afford one servant and they often share whatever they have with others less fortunate.
Mr. March is a philosopher and teacher. He serves as a Chaplain in the Union Army until he gets ill. After being nursed to health by his wife, he returns to Concord and becomes a minister. A kind but unworldly man, he lost the family property trying to help a friend, which brought poverty upon the family for some time. He leads the family quietly, urging Christian morality and kindness.
Jo sells her long, beautiful hair and she begins to take her writing seriously and even sells a few stories, which helps with the family budget, can travel to be with their father. Then there is gentle Beth, the homebody, content to sit knitting by the fire or to help her mother take care of the house.
The youngest is curly-haired Amy, a schoolgirl who dreams of someday becoming a famous artist like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. In Marmee's absence, Beth contracts scarlet fever and eventually dies. Later, Meg marries, Jo moves to New York City, and Amy leaves home to live in Paris. Laurie, a family friend who was once in love with Jo, ends up marrying Amy. Jo meets and marries a man named Professor Baehr, with whom she establishes a school on the estate of her late aunt. In the end, the three surviving March sisters are content in their new l
The Little Women of Louisa Alcott
This chapter pertains to the topic of the research. It discusses the major women characters in the novel Little Women.
3.2. Major Characters
The five major characters discussed in the novel are the March sisters Josephine, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Amy, and their mother Mrs. March.
3.2.1. Character of Josephine "Jo" March
The principal character, Jo, she's a tomboyish, geeky fifteen-year-old girl, is a strong, willful young woman, clumsy, blunt, opinionated and struggling to subdue her strong personality. Her lack of success in this renders her more realistic and contributes to the charm she has for readers. The second-oldest of four sisters, Josephine March is the boyish one; her father has referred to her as his "son Jo", and her best friend and neighbor, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence, sometimes calls her "my dear fellow", and she alone calls him Teddy. Jo has a "hot" temper that often leads her into trouble. With the help of her own misguided sense of humor, her sister Beth, and her mother, she works on controlling it.
Jo loves literature, both reading and writing. She composes plays for her sisters to perform and writes short stories. She imitates Dickens and Shakespeare and Scott. Jo hopes to do something great when she grows up, although she's not sure what that might be perhaps writing a great novel. Her dream may be sheer fantasy, but it is typical of Jo. Like LMA, Jos primary motivation for writing was to make money. When other activities and interests are available, Jo herself will do whatever brings her the most happiness; age and circumstance do not matter. It is no surprise, therefore, when she marries a man who is nearly old enough to be her father.
She initially rejects the idea of marriage and romance, feeling that it would break up her family and separate her from the sisters whom she adores. While pursuing a literary career in New York City, she meets Friederich Bhaer, a German professor. On her return home, Jo rejects Laurie's marriage proposal.
She is also quick to apologize and the first to make peace in the event of any rivalry. Her emotions are intense and honest, although in her own mind one emotion she is not interested in is romantic love. She is an easy friend because she is undemanding and quick to give of herself. However, her blunt nature also causes her trouble because she doesnt always stop to think that it might not be wise to express her opinions or feelings in every situation.
Jo feels as if she has the greatest burden of the entire family. Her first love is for her family and her initial goal is to keep her sisters, parents and closest friends near at hand for her entire life. She eventually realizes that her dream is impossible and unfair to her sisters. However, even though her sisters marry and live in other houses, Jo remains an active and daily part of their lives.
After Beth dies, Professor Bhaer woos Jo at her home, when " They decide to share life's burdens just as they shared the load of bundles on their shopping expedition". She is 25 years old when she accepts his proposal. The marriage is deferred until her unexpected inheritance of her Aunt March's home a year later. They have two sons, Robin "Rob" Bhaer and Teddy Bhaer. Jo also writes the first part of Little Women during the second portion of the novel. According to Elbert, "her narration signals a successfully completed adolescence".
3.2.2. Character of Margaret "Meg" March
Meg, the eldest sister, is sixteen when the story starts. She is referred to as a beauty, and manages the household when her mother is absent. Meg fulfills expectations for women of the time; from the start, she is already a nearly perfect " little woman". As such, Meg is based in the domestic household; she does not have significant employment or activities outside of it. Prior to her marriage to John Brooke, while still living at home, she often lectures her younger sisters to ensure they grow to embody the title of " little women".
Meg loves nice things, dainty food, and good society. She's the only sister who can really remember when her family used to be wealthy, and she feels nostalgic about those good old days. Their poverty state is difficult for her to endure because she is old enough to remember when they had all the money they needed and were able to enjoy some of the luxuries of the monied classes. She complains wistfully on occasion, but never within her mothers hearing. While she is nearly always ladylike and dependable, she is capable of forgetting responsibilities as she does when her mother goes to Washington and Beth becomes sick. She is also a bit too critical of herself; although she indulges in a little wild partying during her stay at the Moffats, she certainly doesnt behave any worse than any of the other girls.
Her dream is to be wealthy once more, and have a huge mansion with lots of servants and expensive possessions. She's also a bit of a romantic; when she has to tell a story to amuse her sisters, it's about love and marriage. Meg is employed as a governess for the Kings, a wealthy local family. Because of their father's family's social standing, Meg makes her debut in to high society, but is lectured by her friend and neighbor, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence, for behaving like a snob.
Each of the March sisters has at least one major character flaw that she struggles to overcome, and Meg is no different. Meg's problem is, greed and envy, wanting stuff that other people have. Meg tries to set aside her materialism, and gradually learns to value simple things more because of the hard work that it takes to earn them. Meg marries John Brooke, the tutor of Laurie. They have twins, Margaret "Daisy" Brooke and John "Demi" Brooke.
They have portrayed Meg as lacking in independence, reliant entirely on her husband, and "isolated in her little cottage with two small children". From this perspective, Meg is seen as the compliant daughter who does not "attain Alcott's ideal womanhood" of equality.
3.2.3. Character of Elizabeth "Beth" March
Beth, thirteen when the story starts, is described as kind, gentle, sweet, shy, quiet and musical. She is the shyest March sister. Infused with quiet wisdom, she is the peacemaker of the family and gently scolds her sisters when they argue. As her sisters grow up, they begin to leave home, but Beth has no desire to leave her house or family.
Beth is almost a minor character, except that she is so important to her own family and to the Laurences. Her familys adoration of her contributes to her development more than anything she does on her own. Also, for a short time she fills a gap in the life of Mr. Laurence who lost a granddaughter much like her. She is devoted to her parents, committed to household chores and performing kindnesses to others, and is incredibly shy, a flaw that Laurie and Mr. Laurence help her to overcome. Her primary purpose is to bring out the best in other characters. Thus she finds the gentleness in Mr. Laurence and has a calming influence on her sisters, especially Jo.
Beth has no ambitions, no desires, doesn't dream about getting married, and thinks about God and Heaven a lot. These are all the signs that a nineteenth-century author uses to tell you that a kid is not long for this world. The only thing that really surprises us is that she survives her first bout of scarlet fever and doesn't die until the second half of the novel. Beth's only earthly love is music. She adores playing the piano and singing, and the only material thing that she wants is a nicer piano, since her family's is old and out of tune.
The piano that Beth longs for is provided by her wealthy neighbor, old Mr. Laurence, who gives her his dead granddaughter's old piano. If you were still missing out on the signs that Beth is going to die, then you should get suspicious when you find out that Beth reminds Mr. Laurence of the little granddaughter he had who died young. Beth shares this anonymous girl's musical talent.
She is especially close to Jo: when Beth develops scarlet fever after visiting the Hummels, Jo does most of the nursing and rarely leaves her side. Beth recovers from the acute disease but her health is permanently weakened. As she grows, Beth begins to realize that her time with her loved ones is coming to an end. Beth has a significant effect on the people around her, especially her sister, Jo. As Jo nurses Beth through her final illness, she realizes how important domestic duties really are. Jo resolves to take over Beth's role as the glue that holds her family together, caring for her parents and cherishing the everyday tasks that Beth did so lovingly.
Finally, The main loss during Little Women is the death of beloved Beth. Her "self-sacrifice" is ultimately the greatest in the novel. She gives up her life knowing that it has had only private, domestic meaning."
3.2.4. Character of Amy “Curtis” March
Amy is the youngest sister and baby of the family, she fits the stereotype of the spoiled youngest child. Interested in art, Amy's vanity begins with her appearance she's a pretty child and turns into a beautiful, stately woman, she is described as a "regular snow-maiden" with lovely golden hair and blue eyes "pale and slender" and "always carrying herself" like a proper young lady. The only thing that bothers her is that her nose isn't quite aristocratic it's a little snub nose, instead of a stately Roman nose. She has to try to reshape her nose herself by wearing a clothespin on it while she's sleeping. Amy can behave in a vain and self-centered way. She has the middle name Curtis, and is called by her full name, Amy.
She is a little rebellious and doesnt take her education too seriously-hence her problems with grammar and spelling- but she is very bright and shows an ability to do whatever she sets her mind to. As she matures, she learns to think of other people first, something her father notices immediately when he returns from the hospital in Washington. Her self-centeredness transforms into an innate knowledge of a behavior that will impress the right people and acquire the things she desires without much effort on her part. In spite of their financial situation, Amy learns early to conduct herself with class.
She wants friends among the wealthy, so she emulates the expected behaviors but does it in a way that gains many friends. She does learn the hard way that friendship with the wealthy is sometimes a one way street, and the girls that seem to be her pals in the art school ignore her invitation to pursue a longer lasting friendship outside of school.
Amy's great ambition is to be a gentlewoman. She tries to make the most of her clothes and accessories, cultivates grace and politeness, and makes social calls on the family's wealthy friends and neighbors. She's pretty successful at it, too. Amy's interest in high society might be shallow, but her kind heart is deep, and people appreciate her classy behavior.
As a child, Amys ambitions seem ridiculous she's always misusing big words and affecting little snobby behaviors. Sometimes she even shows signs of a violent temper, such as when she burns one of Jo's manuscripts in revenge for being left at home while her sisters and Laurie attend a play and she's also overly sensitive.
Amy's tries every kind of visual art, from painting to sketching to sculpting. Most nineteenth-century young women dabbled in these arts, but Amy hopes to make a career out of them. In fact, she wants more than a career; she wants to do the work of genius. Eventually, Amy has to admit to herself that, while she's talented, she doesn't have that special extra inspiration that would mark her as a true artist. Instead, she contents herself with fashioning her life artistically.
Laurie realizes that Amy is exactly the kind of graceful, principled woman who would make a good wife for him, and Amy realizes that Laurie's strength and comfort mean more to her than anyone else's ever could. Sadly, this disrupts Amy's plan to be a gold-digger and marry the wealthy Fred Vaughn for his money. But, as Marmee's daughter, Amy was always destined to realize that love means more than money, and that respect is an important component of marriage.
3.2.5. Character of Marmee (Mrs. March)
Marmee is the affectionate name that the March girls use for their mother, Mrs. March, whose real first name, like her eldest daughter, is Margaret. Mrs. March is essentially the perfect mother: she works hard but is never too busy to console and counsel her daughters; she cheerfully does charitable work and helps out with the war effort; she's an ideal housekeeper, a loving mother, and a highly principled woman. She never loses her temper, she never misses anything, and she protects her children while still allowing them to make mistakes and learn their own lessons. She doesnt "work" outside the home but spends a great deal of time visiting all of the sick and needy in the community.
Marmee is a bit of a mystery; to have so much emotional strength, although Alcott suggests that her religious faith helps a lot. The only time that we really get a glimpse of the woman underneath the perfect mother is at the moment that Marmee reveals to Jo that she used to have a really bad temper. Of course, she has managed to cure herself of it almost completely, or at least to hide it so that she doesn't snap at people.
Marmee's perfection contrasts intriguingly with her unconventional beliefs. She doesn't encourage her daughters to marry for money, even though their family is poor. She believes that hard work, faith, and strong principles are the most important things in life. In short, Marmee makes sure that all her daughters are educated and can make their own decisions, instead of marrying them off to men who will make those decisions for them.
The conclusion deals with findings of the study. It also deals with recommendations of the study.
Finding of the study
Margaret March ( Meg ) is the oldest of the March sisters. She hopes to conquer her vanity and do her work cheerfully, a plump governess to unruly neighborhood children. She marries John Brooke and has twins, Daisy and Demi. Josephine March (Jo) is the second oldest March sister. She is a writer and a tomboy. Jo is modeled after Louisa May Alcott herself, a tall, awkward, girl who likes to write and to devise plays and entertainments for her sisters. In character and personality, she corresponds to the author. She resents Megs interest in John but later is happy to have him as a brother-in-law. She writes and sells stories and becomes a governess for Mrs. Kirke in New York. She famously cuts and sells her hair to help her sick father. Though best friends with Laurie, she eventually marries Professor Bhaer and opens a school for boys.
Elizabeth March ( Beth) is the third eldest sister. She is a quiet, selfless, shy girl, a gentle homebody helpful to Mrs. March in keeping house, who only wishes to be at home with her family. She loves music and plays the piano. Beth gets scarlet fever, and recovers, She dies during the spring after Jos return from New York.
Amy March Curtis The youngest, Amy is the pet of the family. She loves art and is quite vain, but learns to be elegant, kind, and generous., a curly-haired dreamer who aspires to be a famous artist. Always planning to marry rich, she considers but rejects Fred Vaughn and marries Laurie. Mrs. March (Marmee) the kindly, understanding, lovable mother of the four March girls are Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy..
Recommendations for Further Study
No research is complete. Hence, every research work needs to be advanced further. In this case, research may be conducted at a higher or advanced level on the women characters in two or three different novels of Louisa Alcott.
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