THE FEMALE FAMILY | LITTLE WOMEN
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Flexibound, 472 pages, Published September 1st 2012 by Canterbury Classics (first published 1869)
As a New England mother struggles to support her family in the wake of her husband’s service in the Civil War, her four daughters struggle, too - caught between childhood dreams and the realities of burgeoning adulthood. For Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, raised in integrity and virtue, negotiating the right path in life means making choices that will either narrow or expand their destinies.
Based on the author’s life, Little Women transcends genre, gender, and class with its examination of personal quests, societal restrictions, family ties, and the end of innocence.
None, it isn't mentioned at all! However, the entire plotline revolving the strong female family and the similarities between both the book and the series can be construed as a nod to the novel and its characters.
S8: E4 It's the last episode of the revival and Rory walks through her grandparents' home, nostalgically reflecting on the life she has lived with her family. An homage to her grandfather, Richard (Ed Herman), whom she shared her love of literature and books, she decides to start her novel of the Gilmore family's memoir in his office. The book of Little Women is essentially never mentioned or even referenced, but the entire plotline of the revival can be compared most closely to Jo March's story who also encapsulated the essence of her family onto written pages. This particular scene, embedded below, is also filmed similarly to a scene in the 1994 film adaptation of Little Women where Jo also walks through her home to an audio montage of memories, facing the grief of a lost loved one. Coming full circle in AYITL: Fall, Rory contemplates her family and spirited upbringing and writes The Gilmore Girls, later shortening the title to simply Gilmore Girls, "It's cleaner".
There is a parallel to Little Women and Gilmore girls where Jo March can be compared to that of both the mother and daughter Lorelai's. Jo, being the spirited and somewhat black sheep of the family, disagrees that a woman's femininity or marital status will bring her meaning in life, so she sought out a remarkable and independent lifestyle away from her family. Eventually, she returns to her family as a self-made woman with a successful career and her own ideas about what she would like to do with her life, much like Lorelai Gilmore.
As for Rory, she turned down a proposal from Logan Huntzberger, her very own version of the charming, flirtatious, and wealthy Theodore Laurence in the final episodes of Season 7. She was unsettled with the idea of not making her own mark on the world before becoming a wife, despite the type of love she may feel for him and an unknown future. Little Women then continues as a plotline for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life where Jo March is a young New Englander who struggles to find her way and purpose, taking advice from Professor Bhaer, a family outsider, to write about her life. In the case of the Gilmore girls, Jess Mariano does the same for Rory by suggesting she write a book from the perspective of her own life, a story only she can tell. It can be inferred that ASP is comparing Laurie to Logan and Professor Bhaer to Jess, proposing that Jess is the right choice for Rory and Logan was meant to find a better-suited match for himself by way of travels to Paris (ahem, Odette).
“I want to do something splendid . . . , something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous, that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream." - Chapter 13
"I don't think I have any words in which to tell the meeting of the mothers and daughters. Such hours are beautiful to live, but very hard to describe, so I will leave it to the imagination of my readers, merely saying that the house was full of genuine happiness..." - Chapter 20
“You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone.” - Chapter 36
I could say this all day, I ship Jo and Laurie! Although now looking at Little Women through a Gilmore girls lens this makes perfect sense to me. I'm partial to Rory and Logan's relationship (ugh, yes I know, all opinions aside, I like all the boyfriends and I am #TeamRory). However, Jo and Teddy's relationship kept me turning pages throughout the novel. I had a fervent need to know what happened with them and found it a personal let-down with the final outcome. I do, however, believe it to be the perfect and most fitting ending for each character and I agree with Alcott's reasoning (see below). As I do with ASP's in AYITL!
WHAT THE WHAT?:
Alcott's real family life was much different and quite progressive comparative of that within her novel. Her family consisted of abolitionists during the Civil War, participating in the Underground Railroad and teaching slaves to write. The family even protested, moving to a community that only consumed items without animal products or any commodities that had been generated by slavery. The new way of living failed but started a life that compelled Alcott to serve against slavery during the Civil War. Much like Jo's story, her father opened a co-educational school that accepted all races and taught a controversial curriculum. Also much like Jo' s storyline, Alcott wrote scandalous romances under a pseudonym that made her family revenue, the women each working ardently to provide for themselves. The biggest selling piece to lift the Alcotts out of poverty being Little Women.
CARO'S RATING: 4 of 5 STARS
Whilst reading Little Women, many others from the book community reached out to me proclaiming it their favorite book. I gave it 4 stars due to my fangirl inclination not craving a deep dive any further than where the book finished, but I see the reasoning behind its fanbase. Marmee and her 4 daughters create such a wholesome and picturesque showing of adolescence and lean into a seemingly perfect, Stars Hollow-like feel in the world that Marmee has created in their household despite the poverty and ongoing war.
There are instances where the feminist in me could piece together a problem in the widespread reading of this book, due to the old-fashioned ideas of a woman's place and foundation in marital purpose, but it was quite forward-thinking for its time. Little Women was created by Alcott, an independent and career-oriented woman, who forewent marriage altogether. Her life was loosely based on Jo, who she originally wanted to remain unwed, but married off in the book to conclude a happy ending for her readers of that time period. However, Alcott refused to have Jo and Laurie marry just for a humoring happily ever after. This book gave a voice to women who identified with Jo and paved a vision for independence that scarcely existed for women in the era it was written.
Mental Floss: 10 Things You Might Not Know about Little Women
Louisa May Alcott: Abolitionist, Suffragette, and Mercenary
Blurring the Boundaries: The Sexuality of Little Women
Tales of Little Women (I grew up watching this on VHS!)
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