Louisa May Alcott, aged around 25.

Louisa May Alcott, aged around 25.

November 29th was the birthday of Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. This book, which has become timeless throughout the years, is about four young sisters and their adventures in 19th century New England. I fell in love with this book after participating in the theatre production of Little Women my junior year of high school. Each sister grew into a different path, some more traditional and others more daring of the stereotypes of women during that time. The main character, Josephine, takes the most daring path and becomes a writer and manger of her own boarding house. This character is based on Alcott herself. Many do not know that Ms. Alcott based Little Women on her own life as she too grew up with three other sisters.

Alcott was rased in Massachusetts by her parents, Amos and Abigail. The other children’s names were Anna, Elizabeth, and Abigail. Alcott’s parents were transcendentalists, a group of people who believe in the goodness of people and want to achieve perfection. Alcott’s childhood was shaped by her parent’s belief, the idea that children should love learning, and famous family friends: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. With all of these influences Alcott wanted to use her passion and talents in many ways. Throughout her life Louisa Alcott taught small children, washed laundry, was a Civil War nurse, and an author. She used her life experiences to show the lives of girls and women during the 1800s in Little Women. Young women could become authors, be in danger of fatal diseases, travel the world, or simply stay home and be loving wives and mothers.

I read Little Women in middle school but it did not make sense to me until that I watched and participated in the play in high school. There is a perception that the lives of women were controlled by social norms during the 1800s. Alcott showed that even through those norms there is a choice that can be made about your own life. Social norms still exist today. There are things that are expected from young girls and young women. It is the choice of the young girl what they want to make from their lives. Alcott also shows that no matter what you go through your sisters, whether blood or in tight friendship, will be there for you and understand. The story of Louisa Alcott and her sisters help to create is a great “coming of age” story for all girls around the world to read.

To learn more about Louisa May Alcott and Little Women visit http://www.louisamayalcott.org/, or to see the trailer of the 1994 movie of Little Women here.

-Hannah Hill
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Pin It on Pinterest