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Louisa May Alcott And Her Work

1555 words - 6 pages

Louisa May Alcott and Her Work

   Louisa May Alcott was a great writer of her time and is the perfect example of

how mixed messages during the American Renaissance affected the lives of young

women everywhere. In the book Little Women Louisa gives Marmee the appearance

and attitudes of her own mother, Abba Alcott. Her mother once wrote women should

assert their, "right to think, feel, and live individually·be something in

yourself." In contrast, Louisaâs father, Bronson Alcott, felt that Louisa was

more of a challenge because she was willful like her mother and should be taught

to control her impulses. The American Renaissance had a profound effect on

Bronson Alcottâs educational theories and this in turn affected the life and

writingâs of his daughter Louisa May Alcott.


Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832 to Bronson and Abba Alcott. Abba Alcott was

the daughter of Colonel Joseph May who was a supporter of womenâs rights and

abolition. Louisa was somewhat spirited, and she came by it naturally, so her

father blamed her mother for this. Her father was a transcendentalist, and he

believed that his lighter coloring betokened a deeper spirituality and closer

connection to divinity (Saxton 205). Bronson felt Louisa could not control

herself because she was born with dark hair like her mother. He referred to her

as the "possessed one" "pathetic" and "bound in chains·which she could not

break"(Sanderson 43). This somewhat clashed with his other belief that children

were considered blank slates, or tablulae rasae. This theory simply states that

the mind is in its hypothetical primary blank or empty state before receiving

outside impressions: something existing in its original pristine state. (ECED

notes). So if he truly believed in this theory he would not have thought Louisa

was willful simply because she had her mothers hair color. Finally as a

Transcendentalist he believed that parenting was "the means to create new

generations" and that one must encourage "having all that is great, and noble,

and good in man, all that is pure, and virtuous, and beautiful, and angelic in

woman"(Russett 199). Therefore, Bronson Alcott believed that he would make the

world a better place by molding his daughters in the image of his perfection.

This caused Louisa much conflict because she did not look like her father or act

like her father thought she should. This was the case throughout her life; she

would always struggle between what she wanted to do and what her father or

family wanted her to do.


Louisa May Alcott wrote many books during her time and most of them were not

novels for children. Alcott herself was an example of everything that made

American women troublesome at this time. She included her concern for different

social issues in...

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