Little Women - PowerPoint by btsOX0S8

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									    Little Women

The American Female Myth
                  Thesis
• “In the eyes of many readers and critics,
  Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is ‘the
  American female myth’, and Alcott’s
  heroine Jo March has become the most
  influential figure of the independent and
  creative American woman” (pg42).
                          Summary
• The article depicts Alcott as one who wanted independence

• She saw marriage as an entrapment for women

• Even after her novel Little Women was published, she was asked to
  revise it to a certain standard

• The article went into detail on how Alcott portrayed herself in one of
  her characters, Jo, in the novel Little Women

• Jo is portrayed to women as being an influential figure
         The American Female Myth
•   Women were supposed to get married and raise a family
•   Women were the ones who took care of the household duties
•   They looked to men for all their needs
•   They only played with dolls, makeup, and dress-up
•   They were considered "Spinsters" if they did not marry
• They were seen, not heard
• Obedient to men
• Very lady like, and did girlie type things (Alcott was told to write more
  feminine stories)
• Proper and elegant at all times
Ways that Alcott and Jo are related
• Alcott’s life long journey is resembled in Jo’s literary progression
    – They both had a love of reading and writing

• They’d make fun of the idea of being a woman

• They both started out writing fairy tales and melodramas

• They are both criticized by the things they write

• They both had sisters that died
• Struggled against gender expectations

    – “I hate to think I've got to grow up and be Miss March, and wear long
      gowns, and look as prim as a China-aster. It's bad enough to be a girl, any
      way, when I like boy's games, and work, and manners. I can't get over my
      disappointment in not being a boy, and it's worse than ever now, for I'm
      dying to go and fight with papa, and I can only stay at home and knit like
      a poky old woman.” ~Jo
      (Pg. 12 and 13 in Little Women)

       “I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul, put by some freak
       of nature into a woman's body...because I have fallen in love in my life
       with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.”
       ~Alcott      (Pg. 48 of the article)
• As children and young adults, they both believe they will never marry

• For the young aspiring woman writer, such as Alcott and Jo, the
  models of male literary genius were confining

• Both of their families fell on the class hierarchy
    – Both Jo and Louisa had to make money by selling their books to help their
      family out financially


• They both changed their writing style
    – Jo changed hers on account of the professor
    – Louisa changed hers on account of her publishers and her readers
                   Alcott’s Identity
• Alcott’s identity as a woman and a woman writer was contorted
  according to society at that time

    – She “identified with the literary spinster as an American Arachne.”
    – She had ideas where the woman in a marriage was strong and loving, able
      to work and utilize their creativity
    – Her need for independence outweighed being confined to marriage
    – As a writer she explored possibilities of women sustaining a life as
      professionals and artists without being bound by marriage
            Alcott’s Identity Cont.
• Alcott was conflicted with her ideas of marriage, love, and sexuality

• She did not want to conform to the ways of the women in her culture
    – ‘I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe’


• She used pen names and then made fun of them to get back at women
    – “...calling herself first Flora Fairfield, then self-mocking names that
      expressed her discomfort with the role of woman intellectual or activist”
      pg49
Jo as an influential figure
• She aspired to be an equal to the male literary giants

• She is realistic about being a literary spinster and the loneliness it
  brings

• She opens up a school for rich and poor boys alike

• Her independence and wittiness made her intriguing

• The female public could relate to Jo in many ways
    – Simone de Beauvoir said: “I identified myself passionately with Jo, the
      intellectual…” “…I was able to tell myself that I too was like her, and
      therefore it did not matter if society was cruel…”
 Relationship between patriarchal culture and
               women’s culture

• Louisa Alcott was seen as a difficult child because of her passions in
  reading and writing

• She was imaginative, and would write about other people instead of
  herself


• Her father was constantly trying to mold her into a proper woman
  according to his standards

• Her father’s library was a place of refuge and literary resource
• Alcott’s novel portrayed a conflict between femininity and creativity
  for women in the nineteenth century

• Alcott was torn between her identity as a woman writer and her duty to
  her family

• In her novel, Alcott was not simplistic when using realism in the lives
  of her characters
          Insights about Jo


“Through the figure of Jo
 March, Alcott explored
alternative models for the
      woman artist.”
• Alcott’s character, Jo, has made a lasting influence on people, helping
  them with their own identification and decisions with their own lives

• This character inspired women to pursue their dreams as independent
  artists

• She has led women to believe there is more out there than just
  marriage and children

• Jo’s audacity and confidence boosts the reader’s certainty of happiness
New Light
• The way the author shed new light was by describing Alcott’s personal
  life and her experiences throughout
    – Alcott’s experience as a nurse in the war gave her insight in writing about
      death
    – Her belief that the fullest art has come from women who had fulfilled both
      their sexual and intellectual needs


• The imagery of the apple in the novel is paired with Alcott’s childhood
    – “identified...with female creativity and sexuality, with writing, knowledge,
      and transgression” pg. 45
    – In Little Women, Jo had a habit of eating apples when she read or wrote
    – Alcott compared apples to Eden and Eve’s temptation
    – Alcott’s drafts were called ‘green apples’ and her father’s utopian
      commune, Fruitlands, she called ‘Apple Slump’

								
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