The Character of Women in "Little Women"

Beth is the most compassionate and accommodating of the March girls.   The book introduces us to Beth as a young woman who suffers from a type of avoidant personality disorder in which she fears being around people, with the exception of her immediate family.

One might identify this disorder as her “flaw”.   But as the story continues, we see that Beth’s true flaw, which causes the most conflict and despair, is her willingness to put the needs of others before the most basic needs and desires of her own.   The character trait that makes her the most beloved sister to the family, and to the reader, indeed is the “flaw” that causes her to disregard her own well-being, as she acts so unselfishly to help care for a needy family whose infant child has Scarlet Fever, ultimately leading to Beth’s untimely death.

Although Little Women is a story of four sisters facing poverty and hardship set upon them by the ravages of the Civil War, it is also a story of life and values.   Each girl has a unique talent and a passionate dream, but at some point each has to let their dreams go for things more important to the survival of their family and the values they hold dear.   Each lesson learned through their loss demonstrates a great sense of strength of character and dedication to family and love.

With Marmee’s wisdom and unconditional love for her girls, she teaches them, as well as the reader, that although our girlish childhood dreams may not always come true, with faith in what we believe and dedication to upholding our values, we as women can overcome trials and tribulations to reach the goals that we set for ourselves and find true happiness in the reality of our accomplishments.

Jo is a very strong-willed, tomboyish girl.   So much so that her father makes reference to her as my “son Jo” and Laurie sometimes calls her “my dear fellow”.   With her father away at war, Jo adopts the role of “man” of the house.

It appears that out of the conflict between who she is...