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Entertainment & Media

Little Women Discuss “Little Women”

By Simar Thind, Sasha Smalls, and Kamille Shrestha

Volume 1 Issue 4

January 20, 2021

Little Women Discuss “Little Women”

Original image by Sasha Smalls

Who is your favorite March sister?

Sasha: Sweet-natured, romantic, and sensible, Meg remains my favorite March sister. The eldest of the bunch, she actively tries to pacify outbursts and clashes between her other sisters, Jo and Amy. Beth is not one for conflict either, but she shies away from it completely, leaving Meg, Marmee, and Hannah to break up fights. Meg’s serene nature complements her sister’s robust personality. The audience learns early on that marriage does not suit Beth, and Jo - Jo does end up marrying, but throughout the movie, she remains opposed to the concept. Amy desires to marry rich, but she has a key moment in the movie where she gives a speech to Laurie about her thoughts on marriage being an economic proposition. Meg never has such a moment. It appears Meg never opposed the concept of marriage or questioned it. In one scene, Laurie interacts with Meg and shames her for allowing her rich friends to call her out for her name (a pet name). This parallels a subsequent scene when Laurie calls out Amy for wanting to marry rich, saying, “It does sound odd from the mouth of one of your mother’s girls.” Unlike Amy however, Meg does not combat Laurie. She accepts his taunting and moves on. Her passiveness and appeasing nature chronicles her interactions and makes her stand out. Personally, Meg reflects many traits that I as an individual would like to develop and improve on and for that reason, she remains my favorite March sister.

Simar: “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!” Jo March adamantly rejects marriage and romance due to the constraints that accompany them. She is independent, bold, outspoken, and disagreeable. She is a dreamer, and she is stubborn enough to stick by those dreams and make them come true. Since childhood, Jo holds on to her writing, her one true passion. While Meg makes the sensible choice of growing up and adapting to adult life, Jo forever holds on to her writing. While it is important to adapt as you grow older, having a character that sticks with their dreams makes it seem like our dreams may not be as out of reach as we think. But maybe that’s just the optimist in me.

Kamille: Though I could see myself in Jo for how she wished to pursue her passion and find her own way, and Amy with how realistic she was in understanding her duties as a woman and daughter, Beth was definitely my favorite. I adored how sweet, kind, serene, and loving she was. Though the spotlight focused on her less often than her sisters, her heart was always big enough to be felt beyond the screen. I am a big piano fan, and I absolutely adored how much she loved playing it, for herself and for those around her. Beth was so selfless and simply wanted to do whatever she could for the people she loved. She had the most tragic storyline, but never allowed it to be a defining trait in her life. Beth was aware that her death was imminent and that she would leave the earth sooner than her sisters, and came to terms with the prospect, simply doing her best, as her sisters did. In terms of personality, Beth remained a stark contrast from her sisters in that she was shy, quiet, and good-natured, wishing to please everyone and keep her family together. She recognized her place amidst conflict and chose to not engage, yet consistently acted as the magnet that brought everyone together. Out of the four, Beth’s flaws were the least visible, which lends one to believe that her declining health served as more than just a tragedy, but an effort to show that she was not strong nor ready to challenge an ever-changing, seldom forgiving world. For me, she encompassed a tranquil, fleeting sort of beauty that plays a subdued chord throughout the movie.

How does the concept of being soulmates but not lovers apply to Jo and Laurie’s relationship?

Sasha: On the concept of Jo and Laurie as soulmates, I believe a quote from Meg helps us understand. Meg says to Jo, “Just because my dreams are different than yours, doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.” Jo embodies a strong spirit; one cannot help but to get caught up in her wild and enthralling nature. I believe Jo gets caught up in herself as well. She pushes her agenda on her sisters because she has determined what works best for them. As stated perfectly by Meg, this thinking is false. Jo marches to her own drum. As a result, she is deaf to opportunities that pass her by. Take Laurie for example - she told him they could not marry because it would never work, and she believes she may never marry. I do not think Laurie and Jo are romantically compatible, but she confuses the situation when she changes her mind and decides to marry him. Imagine the turmoil if Jo had told Laurie she loved him before he could inform her of his and Amy’s marriage. I think the story would have been consistent if she did not marry anyone. Despite being soulmates, I also believe her and Laurie should not marry either. Fredrich, although ultimately her love interest, foils her character arc. Jo should have stayed single.

Simar: Jo and Laurie grew up together as best friends. They know everything about each other, and their chemistry is undeniable. Laurie understands that Jo has vowed to never marry, but everyone knows that he’s in love with Jo - except for Jo. He confesses his love for her, after waiting and waiting for her to love him back. She loves him, but she says that she could never be in love with him, crushing all my dreams for this couple. Jo says they would be a disaster together, but he responds saying that he can never love anyone else. He desperately wants her to say yes, but when he brings up that everyone expects it, it pushes her away because Jo loves to go against what is expected of her. Jo refuses to marry Laurie, and further argues that she’s unlikely to marry at all because it would place her independence at risk. I understand that soulmates do not have to be lovers, but I cannot accept the fact that they did not belong together, especially since Jo ended up with another man that she barely knew. The book could not have been published without Jo getting married, but ideally, she should have remained single. I think Laurie was “the one”, so it should’ve been him or no one. Just because something is rooted in childhood does not mean we should get rid of it in adulthood. Soulmates are real, and it does not have to be a romantic dynamic. However, I think Jo and Laurie would be great together if they were given the chance.

Kamille: Right before Laurie confesses his love for Jo and proposes marriage, Jo mentions running off and joining a pirate ship with him, thus escaping reality. The dynamic of the exchange begins with both of them not being on the same page, and they remain that way during the conversation. Jo did not even want to get married, yet Laurie attempts to convince her that they should be together since everyone else sees it that way. Further, she tries to guilt her into changing her mind - both being childish tactics to sway her. Their connection is built entirely off childhood fantasies and nostalgia, and as a result, their relationship could never properly mature to the point where they could be more than just friends. They were memories they were not ready to relinquish. There is no doubt that they love each other, but one does not need to seek romance to have an intense, serious connection with another. Soulmates are more than just who you fall for, and people can have more than one. They were amazing as friends, but they would clash as partners. Jo ends up contemplating changing her answer when she realizes that she might end up being alone for the rest of her life. It is never because she loves him in a romantic way, but because she wanted to be loved and not lonely, and Laurie was the easy choice. Jo writes a letter to Laurie when she decides that she wants to change her answer to him and places it in their childhood mailbox. She does not even attempt an adult conversation about it, but resorts to putting letters in a childhood keepsake mailbox. Jo would be able to feed off his love but not truly return it, as her true love was writing, which would absolutely conjure up issues had Jo chosen to marry him. And in any case, a relationship, speaking in the context of marriage, does not merely float on love. There is a point where love becomes a choice because of the sacrifice associated with it. Jo and Laurie’s relationship was far too immature to sustain the nuanced aspects of a relationship more demanding than a friendship and would most likely ruin each other. I wish she did end up single because that is what suited her agenda best and it was defeating to see her change her mind about something she felt so strongly about, but I am glad she did not end up with Laurie.

What role did childhood fantasies play in the context of the movie and how is it applicable to our lives?

Sasha: Each March sister has a thing. Jo, the writer. Amy, the painter. Beth, the pianist. Meg, the actress. I believe Meg’s talent symbolizes her biggest flaw in the movie, a childhood fantasy that follows her into adulthood and threatens the livelihood of her family - Meg wants to be rich. In her youth, Meg attends countless social events and basks in the idea of having disposable wealth. However, Meg does not have disposable wealth. Further, she marries a loving, intelligent, yet poor fellow. Meg’s wedding symbolizes the transition from childhood fantasies to adult duties as she begins her family. But Meg the actress has a role to play. She makes a terribly irresponsible purchase of fabrics with money originally saved for her husband, John Brooke, to purchase a new winter coat. While discussing their situation with Brooke, she makes a comment about being tired of being poor. Despite knowing her financial situation, Meg gets caught up in the idea of having more and living auspiciously. Eventually, she sells the fabrics, and as much as I would like to say this symbolizes her finally relinquishing her rich fantasy, it does not. Meg names her daughter Daisy, a pet name given to Meg by her rich friends. Meg’s reluctance to quit on her childish fantasies defines her character arc. Unlike Jo, Meg cannot embrace her passion mind, body, and soul. Similar to how she acted as a peacemaker, she sets her passions aside (she does not dispose of them) in order to do what is best for the time being.

Simar: As many high school seniors are making pivotal changes in their lives, picking colleges and potential careers, it’s incredibly daunting. Everyone wonders what their thing could be and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses in order to make their next move. Many students have one thing they are known for: their athleticism, intelligence, artistic ability, etc. This notion is highlighted in the movie since each sister has a unique talent. However, life does not always go the way we want it to. Beth passes away before breaking through her shyness and showcasing her natural talent on the piano. Meg marries a poor tutor instead of marrying to elevate her social status, placing her in a position where she must make sacrifices in the name of love. Amy wishes to give up her art because she sees no value in it; she believes that there are very few ways to elevate your status, and the main way to do so is marry. She is set on marrying rich in order to secure her future, as well as shine light on her family, but she says no to a man that seemed to be a perfect suitor because she wanted to marry for love. Childhood fantasies often drive our futures, and although we shouldn’t reject them entirely, it’s critical to be open to change, since nothing is certain.

Kamille: Childhood fantasies are just that: fantasies. In the case of the March sisters, their fantasies were not necessarily abandoned, but exchanged for more achievable dreams and aspirations. In this context, compromise does not necessarily mean subjecting oneself to misery, because dreams can change. Meg adored acting but found that settling down with the man she loved to become a housewife was what was meant for her, despite wanting a lavish life. Amy wished to paint but recognized that painting’s long-term value would not work in her favor while marriage as an economic proposition could, hence her fixation on marrying rich. Beth lived for the piano but accepted that her sickness would eventually consume her. The only sister who stuck to her path mapped out since childhood was Jo. Their fantasies (for the most part) simply became more realistic, but that does not negate their importance. Most of us will or already have outgrown childhood dreams and wishes, considering that it is a time in our lives that is supposed to be fleeting and indicative of rapid development. The beauty of fantasies lies in that they refrain from limiting the wild imaginations of a child; they evolve as an individual grows up. One does not simply desert their childhood, as it has major formative implications on an individual. The period of growth out of a childhood fantasy can shatter one’s perspective on everything and force themselves to see who they truly are and if their aspirations are worth the trouble. Each March sister had a talent that they wished to hone in on, but simply put, a talent or passion does not necessarily mean anything in a cutthroat world where people vie for any opportunity they can acquire by any means. They are called fantasies because it is rare that they metamorphose into reality. It means nothing to like something or be good at it if the individual in question does not have the will to make it happen. Childhood fantasies act as a filter from a merciless truth; the world is seldom a happy, forgiving place. Dreams tend to become more realistic for that reason; it is merely a privilege to fantasize.

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