“Little Women” has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless little women through the years, myself included. Why does a story that is over 150 years old (“Little Women” was published by Louisa May Alcott in 1868) still resonate with us today? If you have seen the latest installment in the screen adaptations of “Little Women”, you know exactly why “Little Women” is still relevant and needed in today’s world.
2019’s version of “Little Women” is a wonderful film with several Academy Awards nominations. Writer and Director, Greta Gerwig does a superb job of making a story many of us know and love come alive like it is brand new.
Timeless Themes are why “Little Women” is still Relevant Today
Women’s Ambition in Life
In the movie, Saoirse Ronan who plays Jo says “Women have minds and souls, as well as just hearts”. Jo wants to be more than just a pretty picture needed for her beauty. She also hopes her destiny consists of more than just marrying as well as possible.
Jo wants to make her own way in a man’s world. She has ambition and a strong desire to express her creativity. Women today have come a long way. However, it can still be an issue to be taken seriously in some fields.
150 years ago, a woman’s desires and ambitions were supposed to take a back seat when she became a wife and mother. This is a large reason why Jo isn’t in any hurry to tie the knot. Amy’s desire to be a painter and Meg’s desire to be an actress are other examples.
Today, while women need to work outside the home we are still the primary ones responsible for taking care of the kids and the house. Again, we’ve come a long way and many men (my husband included) are forward thinking but are we really equals in terms of using our gifts? This is definitely an area for more thought.
Women’s Relationships to each other as Mother, Daughter and Sisters
One of my favorite aspects of the book and the movie is the exploration of women’s roles not only in society but to each other. Louisa May Alcott was a genius for creating different female characters who each illustrate one particular aspect of what it is to be a woman.
Jo is the most complicated of the characters. She is a tomboy, ambitious, and fun loving. She is also giving and protective of her family. Meg is more concerned with propriety and conforming to societies ideal, but she is also true to herself and what she wants out of life even if that doesn’t meet what Jo thinks she should be.
Beth’s character is the most simple of the four sisters. She is sweet, nurturing, selfless and giving. Amy appears to be selfish and self-serving, yet she takes her role of “saving the family” through marriage seriously. She wants to be an artist and have control over her own destiny.
The mother of the March sisters, Marmee, is the guiding force for the girls while trying to make a difference in her community and the world they live in. She also has to raise her little women while taking care of issues like jealousy and sibling rivalry. In other words, the March women are very much like the girls today in terms of what you encounter in a family. And, this is another reason why “Little Women” is still relevant today.
Love and Prospects for Marriage
The book and movie spend a lot of time covering what is important to young people and during adolescence. There are aspects of growing up that haven’t changed over the years. Young adults and teens think about who they want to be when they grow up and who they want to marry.
The book and movie show why it is hard to be patient. And how you can tire of waiting for your turn when you aren’t sure who you will end up with romantically. Jo and Laurie both wonder “Will I always be lonely and will there ever be someone for me?”
Timothee Chalamet as Laurie does a great job portraying how Laurie struggles with who he wants to be. Laurie gets his heart broke because he doesn’t know what he wants from life and love. He also has to deal with pressures from society to follow in his uncle’s footsteps.
Ultimately, Laurie grows up and realizes his life lays in a different direction than what he initially thought. He may compromise in some regards, but in the end he ends up being content with his lot in life.
Just Being Human
“Little Women” is also a story mainly about sacrifice for those we love. From the father of the March girls going off to war as a chaplain, to Beth and Marmee helping their neighbors. The girls sacrificing their Christmas meal. Jo cutting her hair to help her family are all examples of the characters making sacrifices and doing the right thing for each other and their family. It is actually a great story about what it is to be human with all of the love and loss included. This is another reason why “Little Women” is still relevant today.
Why You Should See The Movie
In general, “Little Women” is a fantastic movie. Both men and women will enjoy it and see things they can relate to. Although, most men probably won’t see it which is too bad (just because of the name). If you are a Mom, definitely take your daughters. Mine went even though they hadn’t read the books and they still loved it. For more information on “Little Women”, you can read the reviews from Rotten Tomatoes – Little Women 2019.
If you are looking for other films with strong female characters (my favorite!), check out the following:
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