Little Women

Little Women

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Flowers Symbol Analysis

Flowers Symbol Icon
“Having no ornaments fine enough for this important occasion,” Alcott writes, “Amy looped her fleecy skirts with rosy clusters of azalea, and framed the white shoulders in delicate green vines.” Because the March girls can’t afford jewels and silks on their working class budget, they often adorn themselves with flowers. It seems that, in the world of Little Women at any rate, ideal beauty is natural, simple, and wholesome. The blooms that the March girls adorn themselves with therefore become symbolic of ideal beauty, as well as a commentary on the less ideal beauty valued by those with wealth.

Flowers Quotes in Little Women

The Little Women quotes below all refer to the symbol of Flowers. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Role of Women Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of Little Women published in 2012.
Part 2, Chapter 25 Quotes

Meg looked very like a rose herself, for all that was best and sweetest in heart and soul seemed to bloom into her face that day, making it fair and tender, with a charm more beautiful than beauty.

Related Characters: Margaret "Meg" March
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

At Meg's wedding, she is dressed simply and adorned with flowers. In this passage, Alcott compares Meg's beauty to a rose in that it is simple and natural, and Alcott suggests that this beauty is rooted less in her appearance than in the pure happiness and virtuous intentions with which Meg is entering her marriage. To be this happy with her marriage is a triumph for Meg, who has previously been tempted by wealth and vanity. Her lovely and simple appearance contrasts with, for instance, the night that her rich friends dressed her garishly for the dance, and the comparison shows the tremendous progress Meg has made in overcoming her vanity. In fact, Alcott seems to suggest that it is only in overcoming vanity and finding things more precious and important to value that Meg has become this beautiful. This is an auspicious beginning to Meg's married life, and the whole scene of their wedding suggests the virtues of simplicity, nature, and genuine emotion.

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Neither silk, lace, nor orange flowers would she have. “I don’t want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self.”

Related Characters: Margaret "Meg" March (speaker)
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

As a further credit to Meg and her simple wedding, Alcott makes it clear that the simplicity of the wedding was Meg's choice, and not just a reflection of the means available to her and John. Meg (who was once taken in by vanity and envy of her wealthy friends' beautiful clothes) understands now that for her wedding day she should just be herself. After all, the only people whom she wants to impress are those who know her and love her best, and those are the very people who would be least taken in by fancy things, as Meg's family only cares about her character. This passage is an indication that Meg has made meaningful progress in her quest for a more virtuous life, and it shows the confidence that she has in herself and her marriage, since she is willing to rely on genuine sentiment to make the wedding beautiful, rather than striving to make it fashionable. 

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Flowers Symbol Timeline in Little Women

The timeline below shows where the symbol Flowers appears in Little Women. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 6: Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
...Mr. Laurence’s generosity that she resolves to make him a pair of slippers, embroidered with pansies, as a token of her appreciation. After giving him the slippers, though, Mr. Laurence’s reply... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9: Meg Goes to Vanity Fair
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
...their splendid things. The Moffats treat Meg like a pet and take to calling her Daisy. (full context)
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...that looks shabby compared to Annie’s. As she prepares for the party, a box of roses is delivered. They’re from Laurie, accompanied by a note from Mrs. March. Meg uses the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 18: Dark Days
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
...spreads throughout the house, and hope is renewed. Beth’s pet bird begins chirping again, and a half-blown rose is discovered outside, which are seen as good omens. Beth, meanwhile, is unconscious. The doctor... (full context)
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Dawn is breaking. Meg brings Jo the rose that they’d found in the garden. “I thought this would hardly be ready to lay... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 25: The First Wedding
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
It’s Meg’s wedding day, and the roses are out in full bloom at the March residence. Meg is attired in a simple... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 30: Consequences
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
...art table (for which Amy had prepared a number of beautiful handmade items) to the flower table (located near the back of the fair). Amy is hurt, and sweeps the artworks she... (full context)
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
...table. Amy spends a long, disappointing day at the flower table – many of her flowers wilt, and she sells few things. After supper, however, the tide turns: Laurie sends in... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 37: New Impressions
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
...swaths of tulle “illusion,” which is inexpensive in Nice. She adorns the dress simply with vines and azalea . “If I only had a classical nose and mouth I should be perfectly happy,”... (full context)
The Role of Women Theme Icon
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
Amy sweeps into the ball and greets Laurie, who has brought her flowers. The ball is filled with minor aristocrats (including a Russian prince), and Amy is pleased... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 39: Lazy Laurence
Work and Social Class Theme Icon
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...When they arrive, Amy comments that it’s a “regular honeymoon paradise,” given the abundance of roses and romantic nooks. A thorn pricks Laurie as he attempts to pluck a single red... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 40: The Valley of the Shadow
Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
...Beth dies one day at the break of dawn. Sunlight streams onto Beth’s face, and snowdrops are blooming outside. Her family is glad to know that “Beth was well at last.” (full context)