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 story arc of Little Women can be seen as a shadow of The Pilgrim’s Progress – through their mishaps and misdeeds, and through their constant struggle to do what is good and right, the March sisters’ progression from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood can be seen as a story of moral growth. How does one become a virtuous person? What constitutes virtuous behavior?
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness ThemeTracker
Christianity, Morality, and Goodness Quotes in Little Women
“Our burdens are here, our road is before us…Now, my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get before Father comes home.”
“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.
“Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for everyone. It keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion.”
“…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 remember a time when this hand was white and smooth, and your first care was to keep it so. It was very pretty then, but to me it is much prettier now, for in these seeming blemishes I read a little history. A burnt offering has been made to vanity, this hardened palm has earned something better than blisters, and I’m sure the sewing done by these pricked fingers will last a long time, so much good will went into the stitches.”
“Meg and John begin humbly, but I have a feeling that there will be quite as much happiness in the little house as in the big one. It’s a great mistake for young girls like Meg to leave themselves nothing to do but dress, give orders, and gossip.”
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.
“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.