by Pritha Nag
During quarantine, I’ve been trying to read more and more books that I wouldn’t normally, and I came across the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It’s a classic that was written in the 1800s, but anyone reading the book would think the way the characters speak and think would have been a modern-day girl-empowerment book. Little Women is slowly turning into one of my favourite books!
The story follows 4 young sisters; Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg. The bond the four of them share is so lovely and magical to read and it’s something I can definitely relate to as a sister. All the fights, competitiveness, and kindness make the book very realistic to myself as a sister. Having a strong bond, but also fighting with your sisters a lot! My favourite character in the book is Jo, she’s a strong independent girl, who is well ahead of her time. Questioning everything on why girls are said to stay at home, be petite, delicate when they can be so much more!
One thing that I think is notable about this book is the relationship between the whole family. The father is away fighting in the civil war, the mother is a lovely kind woman who’s always out trying to help everyone. Jo is considered “boyish,” not feminine, independent and loud, Beth is called a “dear” by the rest of the sisters, very similar to her mother, but very quiet, timid and always puts others before herself. Amy is the youngest of the four and is obviously a little more spoiled than the rest (like all youngest siblings) and Amy and Jo both butt heads quite often because of how similar they are in knowing what they want. And finally Meg. Meg is considered to be vain, care a lot about her looks, but very kind and caring. All of her sisters look up to her, and to me, she is the most relatable character. She realises her wrongs and loves all of her sisters dearly. All in all, these characters are such pragmatically written characters, who all have amazing things about themselves and also downfalls and negatives. But that’s precisely what makes them so magical! The character development of each of the girls is so well-written because they’ve matured in ways in so many different ways. The way they think, their bond, their love for each other and so much more detail!
The female empowerment in this book is incredible, considering it was written in the 1800s, but also very inspiring even to this day (two centuries later)! Jo, who considers herself the father of the family (while their father is away), is so inspiring in how much she works to be equal. When she is proposed to, she refuses it down, saying why would she need to do that when she can be by herself. Jo shows us that we can be strong females, and we may have to keep fighting, shouting, losing our temper to get equal but it can work.
The book is written in a narrative style, told from a second person. But zoom in on different characters through different chapters, so we can feel all their emotions, and understand it from their perspectives. The book jumps ahead in time, but to not give away too many spoilers, we get to view both their childhood and some of their early adulthood. We can see them grow up, grow as characters, find love and find their ways back to each other!
This book was such a fantastic book for its time and even for today. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a feel-good book that you’ll relate to. Because of how well-written it is, and the characters and the warm and nice feeling or vibe, rather that it gives. It’s like you’re sitting in the living room with the girls. It empowers me to realise that these girls aren’t spectacularly rich, but they’re all so happy because they’re always there for each other despite their differences