Little Women: The Impact and Influence of its Author Louisa May Alcott

MC 2001 Project

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6 thoughts on “Little Women: The Impact and Influence of its Author Louisa May Alcott

    1. I’m not actually sure who was voted. After some further research I found this article, which I will attach, that discusses more in detail Louisa May Alcott’s part in voting.

      After being allowed to register in 1879, Alcott along with 19 other women were able to vote in 1880 with regards to helping to elect the school committee. The most interesting being that when “the superintendent of schools objected, he was ‘gracefully informed that it made no difference as the women had all voted as the men would.'” I find this extremely interesting noting that this perhaps showed the men, who “seemed to find the whole thing amusing” may have been proved wrong. Perhaps showing them that these particular woman seemed to have the same ideas and opinions with regards to politics as the majority of the men in town.

      You can read more about in at http://www.massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=97

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  1. Little Women has been one of my favorite classics since I first read the novel in 6th grade. Though I knew that her family was poor, I was unaware that Louisa May Alcott originally wrote the novel strictly for profit. How did you feel when you learned this? Did it change your perception of the story?

    Also, do you think Louisa intentionally included feminist undertones in the novel to promote the movement? Though she intended to make a profit from the novel, as you mentioned, the feminist ideals seem to indicate forethought on the author’s part. Do you think this was intentional or just a coincidence due to her upbringing?

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    1. I was also quite shocked to find out that Alcott wrote the novel for money and actually brushed over the novel’s accomplishment at many times in her life. I think it was eye opening to me because I had always admired Alcott due to the book and my admiration of her writing style hasn’t changed. I empathize with her, she did what she had to, and I think I will always be a fan of all her novels no matter what the back story is. I think I was at least comforted by the fact that Little Woman was largely based on her and her sisters so although she wrote it for money there was still a bit of truth in her book. Clearly she was a children’s author genius and I respect her skill.

      With regards to the feminist undertones in many of her books, I’m not sure if she intentionally meant to do that. I believe that her characters and plots may have had a little to do with how she was influenced as a writer (the way she was brought up and her own personal views). However, I don’t believe she wrote any of her books to promote feminist ideas. As many readers may know, Jo March was written to closely match the personality of Louisa May Alcott, and so perhaps that is how Alcott wrote many of her novels. She may have been drawn to the idea of having those strong female characters, such as herself, and that may have been how she as the author connected with her characters in her novels.

      I also think Alcott’s main purpose was to sell books that could sell. Originally, Little Women was only written because her publisher was pressuring her to write a book that was aimed at little girls. I think that in order to do so Alcott knew that she had to make those female character connection with her readers. She was a good sales women and knew what would sell and what her readers liked.

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  2. Ana, “Little Women” is one of my favorite classical books. I remember reading it when I was 11 and admiring Jo March’s stubbornness and individuality. I didn’t know that Alcott originally intended the book merely for profit. Did she advocate the issues she was passionate about after seeing the novel’s effects on American society? Surely she must have seen some of its impacts that you outlined. Even though it was originally written to make her family money, it has grown to be one of the most beloved American classics. She had to have been proud of that.

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  3. Based on many of the articles I read, while researching her, Alcott continued to write stories for children because that’s where the money was. To me this means that despite her passions, to write about other topics and for a different audience, she was a business woman so she wrote what sold. Many of the articles seemed to imply that Alcott may have written many of other types of stories, under several pseudonyms, and that may have been her outlet for her true passion for writing.

    I mentioned in another comment that perhaps she did advocate other “issues” in her books. Many of her books emphasizing a strong, female character.

    With regards to her feelings about the success of Little Women, that quote about it being “moral pap for the young” was a direct quote from Alcott after she had written the book and it had been a success. We can assume that she was probably proud of the book’s accomplishments but honestly more proud of the financial accomplishment. The earnings from the book helped her and her family financially for the rest of their lives. A lot of this may be an assumption on my part, and the writers of the articles I read, however it seems as if Alcott knew what she was doing. She knew the importance of a profitable book and she saw that writing children’s books was where she could make money so that’s where she continued to invest her time and energy. It seems cold and unfeeling, but I believe she acted as a shrewd business woman.

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