Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson were similar in many ways. They both grew up in poor households during the eighteenth century and were widely published and well-known writers as well as transcendentalists. However, Emerson never had to use a pen name like Alcott’s “A. M. Barnard” in order to be respected, and he was able to attend Harvard College to further his education. His writing would always be regarded more highly than that of Alcott, simply because at that time women were meant to stay at home and supposedly had no need for extended knowledge, advanced thinking, or personal opinions. Alcott defied this widely popular view, however, and followed more closely in her father’s footsteps than in those of her mother’s regarding political and religious views, along with sharing his writing gene. Although Alcott and Emerson shared similar ideas and this talent for writing, they did not share the same gender and because of this lone fact they were not both able to express all of their ideas in the same way or through the same facets. Therefore, the rhetoric that each of these writers employed in their writing was slightly different.
Alcott grew up in a poor family with three sisters. Early on in her life, she was forced to work as a teacher, nanny, seamstress, and at other odd jobs in order to help support her family. Her education came mainly from her father, Bronson Alcott, who was a teacher, philosopher, and vegan. From him Alcott obtained her transcendentalist beliefs and gained many of her ideas, techniques, and most likely her power of rhetoric. She possessed an independent spirit and was sometimes rebellious against the standards of society and the restrictions that they put on her as a woman.
Alcott is sometimes remembered only for her most famous novels including Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys, which are viewed mainly as young adult novels centered around romance, family drama and other “girlish” things. However, there was much more to this talented and brilliant woman; besides being a transcendentalist, Alcott was also an abolitionist and a feminist, and these and other political views are apparent in her work. Although she was not revered for her opinions as much as she would have been had she been male, her work remains influential even today. Her feminist views as well as her philosophy on life are apparent in her works, even in her novels which are not specifically politically inclined and seem intended for enjoyment purposes only. Alcott used the power of rhetoric to influence her readers about religion, feminism, and other political ideologies. Her clear, straight-forward tone and powerful, concise words summon respect yet are charming, allowing her to convince her audience that she is someone to be listened to, therefore not only giving credibility to her words but also promoting her ideas themselves – especially that of feminism because by commanding attention and respect she is advocating gender equality.