Louisa May Alcott: Life and Work Essay
Louisa May Alcott: Life and Work
Louisa May Alcott is a female American Novelist born on November 29, 1832 and in Germantown, Pennsylvania (“Louisa May Alcott”). She had three sisters, a philosopher/teacher for a father, and a loving Mother (“Louisa May Alcott”). Her family is said to be her primary inspiration for her success in literature and also served as the foundation for her most popular book, “Little Women”. Based on the biography written by Stern, the stories of Alcott were lifted from “episodes from her life, her observations, her travels, her experiences, her reading” (xxii).
The use of her own personal insights and experiences have made all of the stories as real as it could be during a time when the society is dominated by men and women are expected to become mere supporters. Nonetheless, Alcott has been a witness to her own strength and that of other women, which allowed her to accomplish a significant number of stories and literature that portrayed women as strong personages existing in a male-dominated society.
In order to examine how Alcott has presented women as strong characters in a predominantly male society, her stories, such as “Little Women” and “Work: A Story of Experience,” are used to show the distinct power and role that women held in relation to the existing power dynamics between men and women. “Work: A Story of Experience” Women experienced a pivotal role in the industrial era as workers and as channels for the advocacies of the female working class. In the novel “Work: A Story of Experience,” the main character, Christie Devon, is shown as a women of great character as she tries to find her rightful place in the industrial age.
After her several attempts, she ended up as mediator between the female working class and the owners of the businesses where they work in (Alcott 355). Christie has attributed her distinct capacity to serve as an instrument of negotiation to her mother and father, who are both seen of equally great importance (Alcott 355). In this particular work of Alcott, the author maintained a sense of reality in terms of the existing social structure between men and women in the industries and never denied the presence of gaps between the two.
However, women are given the chance to voice out their concerns regarding the oppression they felt, which consequently increases their chances of receiving better treatment. The need for women who are strong enough to bring forth the concerns of the female working class is expressed by Alcott, who states that such women were much needed and not always easy to find; for even in democratic America the hand that earns its daily bread must wear some talent, name, or honor as an ornament, before it is very cordially shaken by those who wear white gloves.
(355). In the said quote, there are three distinct elements that show the strength and renewed importance provided for females. First, females are given greater chances of participating in different affairs in the society provided that they have the necessary qualifications to do so. With the said qualifications, they are allowed to express their concerns and make contributes to decisions related to matters that directly affect them.
The use of qualifications as a form of permit to engage in matters usually dominated by male is also realized by Christie, who mentioned that the attributes she inherited from both her mother and father are enough for her work as a negotiator. Second, the author recognized the existence of women who have the ability to participate but also noted their inherent rarity. The recognition made by author shows that women have gained strength and shared a certain amount of power albeit in rare instances.
It is not to say that it is impossible for women to become as strong as Christie but should strive harder in order to gain a distinct position in the society. In fact, the words of the author do not serve as limitations but of recognition of the presence of strong and able women and implies the need to further increase their number. Third, the author also takes note that there are people in the society with who the females need to be at par with. Those with the “white gloves” can serve as representations of a class that the women should infiltrate through their qualifications.
To a certain extent, it can be understood as the domination of males in the different areas of the society. The congregation of males is seen to be one where affiliation is strictly confounded by certain limitations. Nonetheless, the author still maintained the ability of strong females to break the barriers and become affiliated with the male-dominated fields in the society. Aside from the points mentioned above, the novel also represents women who are able to work outside their houses and take on roles that are different from the ones they usually did inside the household.
The women portrayed in this particular novel of Alcott are shown to have the ability to work in different careers and are indeed allowed to do so. It is an indication of their ability to break the common stereotype attached to women at that time, which is to remain inside the household and attend to the needs of the family members. Nonetheless, the women are not spared from their household chores and are still expected to fulfill the usual roles attached to being a mother and a wife.
Despite the inherent difficulty, the women are still able to cope with the need to balance both the demands of their work and families that renders them capable of succeeding at different tasks at one time. “Little Women” The novel, “Little Women” was published in 1868 and revolved around the story of four different women who are considered to be taken from the experiences of Alcott with her three other sisters (Richards 123). The novel’s main characters, being women, are used by the author to send “a feminist message about the shared challenges all women face in male-dominated society” (Richards 123).
The author placed emphasis on the different barriers that often limited the opportunities made available to women. The obstacles enumerated in the novel are the burden of finding a husband who can serve the needs of the female, restrictions with regard to the choices in terms of career, and problems with regard to access to college education. All four women are shown in the novel to have their own distinct characters and their own means of coping with the difficulties they face as women. Jo, whose experiences are often related to that of the Louisa Alcott, is known to be a tough and free-spirited character (Walker and Dresner 115).
All of the other characters are known to be struggling with the factors that limit their capacities. One well-known example is that of Jo who took great leaps in order to fulfill her goals and dreams. The three other women have also shown their own strength as they conquer and fulfill the problems and the expectations. All of them are shown as individuals who are able to work their way out of the comforts of the households and successfully overcame the different dilemmas they faced. The portrayal of the lives and struggles of the four women is successful and also appealed to the senses of the audience.
As a result, a sequel to the novel was published and showed a different phase in the lives of the four women. In the second volume, the women are also shown to have their own individual struggles and the means they used to overcome the said struggles. In both volumes of “Little Women,” the females are presented together with their experiences with regard to the struggles they have to face in a male-dominated society. Interestingly, all of the women are able to face their problems with utmost strength, which shows that women have the capability to overcome the challenges because they have the skills to cope with the said difficulties.
Likewise, it allows women to find their strength with other women and to provide the needed comfort and help, especially during difficult times. In fact, there is no other substitute for the kind of care provided by women and the courage they exhibit during critical times. At the time when Beth became ill from scarlet fever, it is her sisters who decided to take care of her. All of them remained strong despite the condition of Beth and took the initiative to solve their problems without needing much help from other people.
On another note, Alcott have also shown that despite the dominance of males in the society, the females are still able to succeed in their own professions through their own little ways. In this respect, women are able to show that it is not the number that counts but the skills, knowledge, and abilities that they have. Other Stories In the other stories written by Alcott, the focus is also on the females and how they tried to overcome the problems they face in their own respective fields of profession. An example of this is how a woman is used as the main character for the “Candy Country.
” In the said story, the woman is shown as a person who is capable of acquiring knowledge for the sake of enhancing their own welfare where the author states that “she goes home and grows up from a ‘sickly, fretful child’ to a ‘fine, strong woman’…” (Alcott xxxv). Despite the simplicity of the story, Alcott ensured that the main character portrays the strength of women despite the domination of men in the society. Conclusion The stories of Alcott are used to represent the strength of women despite the dominance of male in the society.
Stories, such as “Work: A Story of Expereince” and “Little Women,” the author is able to show the difficulties faced by women and the distinct coping mechanisms carried out in order to solve their problems. Aside from this, Alcott have also shown that women are able to enter aspects of society that are known to be dominated by male. The access stems from their qualifications and abilities that prove they can also be at par with the rest of the population. Works Cited Alcott, Louisa May. Louisa May Alcott’s fairy tales and fantasy stories. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1992.
Print. Alcott, Louisa May. Work: A Story of Experience. Charleston, SC: Bibliobazaar, 2008. Print. Louisa May Alcott. Louisa May Alcott Memorial Association. 2004. Web. 18 July 2010. Richards, Paulette. Terry McMillan: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 1999. Print. Stern, Madeleine. Louisa May Alcott: A Biography. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 1996. Print. Walker, Nancy and Zita Dresner (Eds). Redressing the Balance: American Women’s Literary Humor from Colonial Times to the 1980s. Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1988. Print.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 September 2016
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