Tma02- Discuss Instances of ‘Ideological Ambivalence’ in Either Little Women or Treasure Island.

TMA02- Discuss instances of ‘ideological ambivalence’ in either Little Women or Treasure Island.

The purpose of this essay is to discuss instances of ideological ambivalence in my chosen set text, Little Women. It is my intention to draw examples from the text, study resources and also from the information we have been provided about Louisa May Alcott herself. My understanding of the term ‘ideological ambivalence’ is the practice of having, or promoting, notions or opinions that reflect what is considered acceptable in society but exhibiting conflicting viewpoints. An example of this could be a love/hate relationship. I chose Little Women as I felt it had many examples of ideological ambivalence to draw on within the text but also because Alcott herself felt that by writing the book she went against many of her own beliefs and opinions as highlighted in the critical essays in reader 2. I shall be highlighting two areas within the text; conformity in women (including marriage and submitting to males) and nineteenth century gender expectations.

We were introduced to the concept of ideology at the very beginning of Block 1 of study. In his essay ‘Instruction or Delight’, Hunt addresses the opinion that whilst children’s literature may, on the surface, appear to be ideological, that it is impossible for the author not to express their own ‘ideological stance’ in their writing whether intentional or not. (Hunt, Reader 1, Approaches and Territories, p.15) He also makes the point that ‘if we, as adult readers, see…male exploitation and female repression in Little Women…do we not have a duty to do something about it?’ (Hunt, Reader 1, Approaches and Territories, p.14) I read Little Women at the age of 10 and (whilst I have no recollection of awareness of the repression of the females in the story) I do recall quite clearly relating to Jo’s character and admiring her. Perhaps, by making Jo such a strong and likable character, Alcott managed to subliminally...