The story Little Women takes place at a time when women were taking on uncustomary roles like physical laborer, family protector and provider, and military volunteer while their husbands served during the Civil War. Keeping within the boundaries of the time, Louisa May Alcott uses herself and her own three sisters to create this classical novel from personal experiences. Each sister is different. They each set goals and dreams for their selves whether it goes along with their contemporary society or not. With the assistance of their mother, friends and experiences, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy struggle between their personal expectations and society’s expectations as they plan for their future and choose their destinies.
Mrs. March, also known as Marmee, like many women during this era had to learn how to balance working outside the home with raising a family while her husband served in the Union Army. Marmee shows, “that a home can be run successfully without a man supporting it, as hers is while Mr. March is away at war” (Thomason 123). She proves to have a strong influence on her daughters as they weave through their daily lives and dreams of their futures. The young girls, whom are each unique in their personality and expectations, tend to make poor choices throughout the novel. However, Marmee is there with just the right advice each time. The girls decide they would like to spend their summer break doing only the things they enjoy, but soon they become bored. When they are ready, Marmee passes on words of wisdom to her four daughters. Marmee inspires, “Work is wholesome,” she continues, “It keeps us from mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of independence” (Alcott 92). Throughout the story, she passes along this type of advice to her daughters and each girl uses it to interpret where she fits into the world.
Meg, the oldest of the four sisters is said to be responsible, kind and beautiful. Alcott’s expressing of character brings conclusion that, “Meg is regarded as beautiful and, as a result, she struggles with her own vanity” (Thomason 122). Meg always wants what everyone else had. She wants to be better and thinks she deserves only the best no matter what it took to get it. Meg says slowly, “I would like a lovely house, full of beautiful things. Nice food, pretty clothes, handsome furniture, and heaps of money” (Alcott 108). Meg, unlike her sisters, is the most comfortable with society’s role of womanhood during this time.
Meg is able to relay her acceptance of her social role when she chooses her husband long before she is of age to marry, according to her parents. The relationship she wants for herself is tested when Aunt March threatens to cut her out of any money she is planning to give her should she marry Mr. Brooke. Aunt March does not agree to the match because Mr. Brooke lacks the income she feels is required to live comfortably. Taking a stand for her independence,...