Little Women

Little Women


Louisa May Alcott

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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Little Women, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Role of Women

In Searchlights on Health: Light on Dark Corners (1895), a popular Gilded Age guide to health and sexuality, the authors caution male suitors to consider what they love in their brides-to-be: “Do you love her because she is a thoroughly womanly woman; for her tender sympathetic nature; for the jewels of her life, which are absolute purity of mind and heart; for the sweet sincerity of her disposition; for her loving, charitable thought; for her…

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Christianity, Morality, and Goodness

In the opening pages of Little Women, Mrs. March urges her daughters to take their cue from Christian, the main character in the allegorical tale The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. “Our burdens are here,” she says, “our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City.” And in many ways, the…

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Work and Social Class

Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, was preoccupied with what constituted women’s work, and how the Industrial Revolution spurred changes in a woman’s power to earn a living – so much so that, following the success of Little Women, she would go on to publish a semi-autobiographical novel called Work: A Story of Experience.

Work is central to the lives of the members of the March family, and it’s part…

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Genuineness, Simplicity, and Natural Beauty

“I don’t like fuss and feathers,” Laurie remarks when he sees Meg dolled up in borrowed finery at a dance thrown by one of her wealthy friends. Simplicity and genuineness are touted as values of the highest order in Little Women, and they’re often seen as an antidote to the difficulties of poverty. Similar to a number of other late 19th century thinkers (the doctor and cereal tycoon John Harvey Kellogg, for instance), Alcott…

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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…

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