In Little Women, the March girls learn about the importance of love, both familial and romantic. The book can be seen as a record of the March girls’ progression from an innocent, idealized vision of love to a more complex, worldly understanding of it by the end of the novel. The girls’ idealized notions of romantic love are embodied in Jo’s picaresque plays, in which swooning damsels find true love in spite of their hardships. (These plays can be seen as a reflection of the way romantic love was viewed in the 19th century – they represent an ideal that even Jo aspires to, even if she chafes against conventional femininity.) Laurie, the rich boy next door, offers Jo her first lessons in love, and helps her come to better understand what she’s looking for in a successful marriage. By the end of Part 2, all of the March girls (with the exception of Beth) have found their way to true love. Working in tandem with this notion of romantic love is the notion of familial love – motherly love in particular. Mrs. March’s love for her daughters is consistently upheld as an ideal that the March girls long to achieve both in their romantic lives and in themselves when they go on to become mothers.
Love Quotes in Little Women
“I burned it up.”
“What! My little book I was so fond of, and worked over, and meant to finish before Father got home? Have you really burned it?” said Jo, turning very pale, while her eyes kindled and her hands clutched Amy nervously.
Jo’s breath gave out here, and wrapping her head in the paper, she bedewed her little story with a few natural tears, for to be independent and earn the praise of those she loved were the dearest wishes of her heart, and this seemed to be the first step toward that happy end.
“…she can’t love Bethy as I do, and she won’t miss her as I shall. Beth is my conscience, and I can’t give her up. I can’t! I can’t!”
“I knew there was mischief brewing. I felt it, and now it’s worse than I imagined. I just wish I could marry Meg myself, and keep her safe in the famiy.”
“I’m not ambitious for a splendid fortune, or fashionable position, or a great name for my girls. If rank and money come with love and virtue, also, I should accept them gratefully, and enjoy your good fortune, but I know, by experience, how much genuine happiness can be had in a plain little house, where the daily bread is earned, and some privations give sweetness to the few pleasures.”
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.
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.”
It wasn’t at all the thing, I’m afraid, but the minute she was fairly married, Meg cried,” The first kiss for Marmee!” and turning, gave it with her heart on her lips.
…Meg learned to love her husband better for his poverty, because it seemed to have made a man of him, given him the strength and courage to fight his own way, and taught him a tender patience with which to bear and comfort the natural longings and failures of those he loved.
[Jo] began to see that character is a better possession than money, rank, intellect, or beauty, and to feel that if greatness is what a wise man has defined it to be, “truth, reverence, and goodwill,” then her friend Friedrich Bhaer was not only good, but great.
“I can’t love anyone else, and I’ll never forget you, Jo, never! Never!” with a stamp to emphasize his passionate words.
“What shall I do with him?” sighed Jo, finding that emotions were more unmanageable than she expected. “You haven’t heard what I wanted to tell you. Sit down and listen, for indeed I want to do right and make you happy,” she said, hoping to soothe him with a little reason, which proved that she knew nothing about love.
“Oh yes!” said Jo, and he was quite satisfied, for she folded both hands over his arm, and looked up at him with an expression that plainly showed how happy she would be to walk through life beside him, even though she had no better shelter than the old umbrella, if he carried it.
“Ah! Thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands,” cried the Professor, quite overcome.
Jo never, never would learn to be proper, for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she just put both hands into his, whispering tenderly, “Not empty now,” and stooping down, kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella.
Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility…
“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!”