Little Women: Life Lessons Hidden in the Novel

Categories: Novel

I am writing my winter term paper over the book Little Women. I will be writing about the general plot of the book things that I found interesting and the hidden meanings/ lessons that the author might want the reader to know.

To start off with I would like to talk about the basic back background of the book little women such as who wrote it when it was made and the general summary of the book. To start Little Women is a novel by Louisa May Alcott that was first published in 1869.

Louisa May Alcott's autobiographical account of her life with her three sisters in Concord, Massachusetts in the 1860s. With their father fighting in the American Civil War, sisters Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth are at home with their mother, a very outspoken women for her time. The story tells of how the sisters grow up, find love and find their place in the world.

Alcott’s story begins with the four March girls—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—sitting in their living room,talking about their poverty.

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The girls decide that they will each buy themselves a present in order to brighten their Christmas. Soon, however, they change their minds and decide that instead of buying presents for themselves, they will buy presents for their mother, Marmee. Marmee comes home with a letter from Mr. March, the girls’ father, who is serving as a Union chaplain in the Civil War. The letter inspires the girls to bear their burdens more cheerfully and not to complain about their poverty.Later that day, Marmee encourages them to give away their breakfast to a poor family, the Hummels. Their elderly neighbor, Mr. Laurence, whom the girls have never met, rewards their charitable activities by sending over a feast. Soon, Meg and Jo are invited to attend a New Year’s Party at the home of Meg’s wealthy friend, Sally Gardiner. At the party, Jo retreats to an alcove, and there meets Laurie, the boy who lives with Mr. Laurence.

To start off the novel the girls are talking about how poor they are and how unfair it is that they cant use the little money they do have on gifts for themselves while other girls are out there buying all kinds of things. Beth goes on to tell them that ‘We’ve got Father and Mother, and each other,’ basically saying that they should not be so upset becuse at least they have their family even though their father is out in the war they should be greatful for what they do have even though it might not be what they want.

Life Lessons/ hidden meanngs in the book:

Forgiveness Some offenses may seem unforgivable, but refusing to accept a sincere apology usually leads to nothing but more suffering. There is a scene in the book when jo refuses to bring her younger sister amy to this play that she margret are going to with these two boys and amy decides that she is going to retaleate by burning the only copy on this book that jo has spent so many years writing. Jo absolutly refuses to forgive amy just doesnt want to have anything to do with her anymore. It wasnt until amy almost dies in a skating accident because she decidid on following her outside the house that jo finally realizes that her sister is way more important that a book that shes worked on. When it came to almost losing her sister she realizes that holding grudes is more likely to lead to regret than to actually make her feel better.

Don’t be jealous: When it comes to this life lesson the March family doesnt live in absolute poverty but at the same time is not living in a lavish situation either. To start off the novel the girls are talking about how poor they are and how unfair it is that they cant use the little money they do have on gifts for themselves while other girls are out there buying all kinds of things. Beth goes on to tell them that ‘We’ve got Father and Mother, and each other,’ basically saying that they should not be so upset becuse at least they have their family even though their father is out in the war they should be greatful for what they do have even though it might not be what they want

Giving is a greater than receiving like we’ve established the girls arent living a extremly poor life but they arent rich etheir Not only do the sisters get frequent reminders of their relatively good fortune, they also find it’s better to focus on helping destitute neighbors than to gaze longingly at their rich neighbors’ lives. At the very beginning of the book the girls are complaining about how poor they are Jo said “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents” and Meg said “It’s so dreadful to be poor!” then a few pages later they go on to talk about how they are going to use the money they do have not to buy gifts for themselves but to buy gifts for their mother and not only that but they even take their own christmas breakfast to a starving family that lives near them.

What matters is what’s inside: As we discussed Meg was upset at the fact that she was too poor to afford a fancy dress but whe she went to this party that she was put in expensive clothes for she soon foundout that it isent what she wiahed it was like. She notices that those women with the expensive dresses bring a certain class of people upon them and thats how they are respected but they are being fake about it.The women that wore the expensive dresses whom she admired were also the woman who gossiped about her and payed her no attention when she was in a normal dress. Their behavior towards her while she was wearing the expensive clothes cant conceal the hipocrisy and shallowness hidden beneath their silk gowns.The lesson is that it is easy to judge people by the clothes that they wear but its not a good way of trying to figure out someones true character.

Figure out what you’re good at and stick to it. Although from reading the book the March sisters seem like they are really good at what they do sometimes, none of them are particulartly distinguished in terms of talent. These girls dont let anything get in their way no matter how limited they are in their resources.Beth is the musical sister out of them all and she loves to practice her piano whenever she can get the chance to. Amy, is the artistic sister and when she is not obsessing over her appearance she spends most of her time improving her sketches and paintings. Now Jo ,(my favorite sister of them all), is the literary sister. She loves to write she wrote plays for the family when they were just kids and she writes poems about the war that was taking place since she longs to be there helping her father in the war and real life things. Now Meg definately is not much of a creative person becausse she was the oldest sister she had to focus more on taking care of the rest of her sisters throughout the day while there mother was gone so she focusses more on learning to cook and keep the house clean. She has a domestic art that is challenging in its own way. When you talk about these girls one thing you can’t call them is ,“Quitters”, because they know their strengths and passions and they’re willing to dedicate the time and effort that is needed to cultivate them. Further into the story Jo becomes an writer, Amy becomes an accomplished artist, and Meg runs the house for her family.This lesson is telling the reader to focus on the things that they are good at and passionate about so that they can be sussessful in life just as these girls were.

Everyone, even young ladies, should know how to support themselves. The two oldest sisters are only 15 and 16 years old at the start of the book and despite their age they are already helping out when it comes feeding the family. Unfortunatly the family came upon some difficult times and Jo and Meg insisted that it was time for them to go out and work.Meg worked as a governess and Jo was a helper/companion to their wealthy aunt.Later on Amy replaces Jo as aunt March’s companion and Jo starts earning money through her writings Everyone Except for Beth,( Who was sick at the time), were able to work and earn money to helpout around the house despite the time period they were in where young ladies with middle class backgrounds were expected to do little work outside the house and focus more on finding a husband that would support them. This provides the girls with a sense of accomplishment with their actions as well as the ability for them to provide for themselves and their family without needing the help of a man. This lesson is telling the readers that they should be able to provide for themselves, not expect someone else to do all the work when it comes to family matters, to get a job to help around the house and find a way to support our own living.

Keeping house is hard work, but the results are worth it. When Marmee (the nickname the girls gave their mother) and their maid Hannah take the day off, the girls are put to the test. They have to take care of themselves and they realized that vleaning the house was very difficult and they didnt like it when it was dirty, and dinner was also a lot harder to cook then they expected. The girls made a mess of the day housekeeping and after all their work they truly began to appreciate just how much work Marmee and Hannah put into keeping the house functioning. Compared to all the work that Marmee and Hannah had to do the girls realized that their job of dusting and tidying the place up a bit wasnt so bad at all. This lesson is to tell the reader that when our parents give us chores to do around the house, instead of complaining we should just do it because its not as bad as what they have to do.

Don’t get into debt for no good reason. Despite the fact that the girls were used to a finer lifestyle they were good at keeping their expenses down. But when they do they learn and grow from it. Meg impulsively bought an expensive silk dress and as a result her husband cant get a new winter coat when he really needed one. In the book it states “A week of remorse nearly made Meg sick; and the discovery that John had countermanded the order for his new great-coat, reduced her to a state of despair which was pathetic to behold.”this shows that her embarassment alone was enough to prevent such a thing from happening again. The lesson is to tell the readers not to waste money on things they dont need and cant afford.

Don’t obsess about dating. The book Little Women goes by the 19th century ideals when it comes to marriage and all Three girls who survived got married. They didnt go around flirting or gossiping with all the boys in their town and Marmee even told Jo not to get “ romantic rubbish” in her head. The girls mainly focused on their family and how they developed personally and went on to develop real friendships with good men with whom they later married. The lesson here is to be smart about the people that you are letting into your life romantically.

Love is a wonderful thing... Throughout the entire book the love of the Marches for each other, their friends, and their eventual spouses and children is the most aspirational. When reading this book you get this warm feeling showing that the girls truly care about eachother and other people. Meg had the option to marry a wealthy man but she chose to marry a poor man instead because she truly loved him for who he was and because of these actions they are always surrounded by those who love them and appreciate just how good hearted they are. The lesson here is to tell the readers when it comes to love it doesn’t matter how much money someone has or the clothes they wear but the person that those things belong to.

Family should come first. The main theme of this book is family love. There is sisterly love, parental love, and marital love. The Marches didnt randomly end freindships, disown family members, nor did they cheat on their spouses. Even when aunt march offers to adopt on of the girls to help with the family burden they refused the offer because they wanted to be together. The lesson to the readers is to not take your family for granted and appreciate what you have.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Little Women: Life Lessons Hidden in the Novel. (2024, Feb 10). Retrieved from

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