Women Roles in Society by Alcott
Alcott’s Little Women emphasizes that women are human beings with complete thoughts, vices, virtues, desires, creative genius and capable of accomplishing gender roles in the society in conformity to what the 19th Century allowed. The novel frames Marmee as eager to see her daughters married as well although she equally accepts that remaining unmarried is also right. Alcott’s Little Women illustrates a favorable portrait of the upstanding lives that the March girls and their mom lead in their allotted societal roles in their patriarchal culture. Alcott illustrates how young women should act to gain respect, experience happiness, and find husbands while in the society. In her young age, Jo hates the constraints put on her by being a female; “I can’t get over my disappointment at not being a boy….I Can only stay at home and knit like a pokey old woman.” (Alcott, 5). Jo does not want to rely on a man when she grows; she desperately wants to be independent. Since her childhood, Jo is rebellious against societal beliefs about women. Just like Alcott herself, Jo is characterized as a talented writer. However, her great talent is not appreciated in the society since women are restricted to certain independence of mind and though by the society. ORDER PAPER NOW
Alcott’s Little Women presents the unforgettable March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy who live with their mother (Marmee) in a small house next to the Lawrence mansion while Mr. March is off at war. Apart from Amy, all girls have jobs to help in supporting the family. These many moneymaking exploits by March girls shows how women are not home vessels alone. Alcott clearly points out that women are able to get along with a greater degree of independence than the gender norms of the time might have people believe. Jo is seen to complain about how disadvantageous is to be a female, and clearly admires to be a boy, free to spread her legs comfortably and use slang to play ball and not have to be “proper” at all time. Marmie is takes time to discuss about the girls roles as women in the society. Marmie encourages her daughters to get educated and “interesting”. She tells them it is “better to be happy old maids than unhappy wives.” (Alcott, 126). This attitude is completely against that of a contemporary fictional mother, Mrs. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, who is a satirical character hell bent on getting all her daughters married to rich men. Also, Marmee is shown to be against corsets for she feels they confine women’s bodies and are not natural. Breaking from traditional roles of women is highly emphasized by Marmee to her daughters.
Alcott’s Little Women takes place during a time when women took on uncustomary roles like family protection and provision, physical laborers, and military volunteers when their husbands war at the civil war. Assisted by their mother, the four March girls struggle between their personal expectations and societal expectations in their attempt to plan for their future and destiny. Unlike the other sisters, Meg is much comfortable with the roles of women in the society at the time period. Meg says slowly, “I would like a lovely house, full of beautiful things. Nice food, handsome future, and heaps of money” (Alcott 108). Meg relays her acceptance of her societal role when she chooses her husband while at a younger age. The marriage she desires is tested when Aunt March threatens to cut her out of any money she is planning to offer her should she marry Mr. Brooke. Aunt March disagrees with the match since Mr. Brooke lacks wealth she thinks is sufficient for a comfortable live. Taking stand for her independence, “Indignant, Meg says she can marry whomever she pleases and Mr. Brooke is a fine man” (Thomason 118). However, Meg continues to be loyal and responsible to her parents despite standing up to her Aunt after being told she is very young for marriage.
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