One of the first to-do’s if I ever come into money—I’m banking on this e-mail I received about my long lost millionaire uncle who died suddenly in South Africa—is to reshoot a version of one of my favorite books growing up, Little Women.
Now, for those of you who have yet to be amazed by Louisa May Alcott’s tale of morals and female struggle into adulthood, you’re probably either a boy or hate reading. If you’re neither, then the quickie summary goes along the lines of…
There are four women, the March sisters.
Meg, who is the eldest. Her gripe with life is her poor circumstances. She just wants to be part of the society that she sees all of her so-called friends taking part of, but eventually she falls in love and sees that marriage and happiness and family are more important than having pretty dresses or social standing.
Jo is the second eldest. She’s a tomboy, essentially a blue-stocking with no qualms about having boy habits such as whistling or running around exercising. Alcott does a lot to encourage young girls to exercise.
She’s really the belle of the book. She speaks her mind, she gets angry, and she’s steadfastly loyal. She sounds awesome, right? Well, despite the anger issues that is. Essentially, she’s everything we should be teaching little girls and whatnot wrapped into one heroine right there! But no. She gets screwed over by her youngest sister!
Not this one. No, this is Beth. She’s all really good, like really. She risks her life helping to take care of a baby with scarlet fever. Who does things like this? No one in modern times surely, though an argument can be made for those heroes I see saving people from the subway tracks on morning news programs.
Beth’s pretty rad too. She has a good conscience and is selfless, but Alcott kills her off in the second half of the book. I’m sorry to spoil that, but excuse my bluntness about Beth’s death mostly because that’s the only way I can cope with it. I mean, I thought that Beth’s goodness was supposed to be a model for me, but when she dies halfway through, what am I supposed to think?
Last and least, in my mind mostly, is Amy. Amy is the baby of the family. She’s vain and self-conscious of their social standing like Meg, and she’s overtly dramatic. So what happens? She screws over sister Jo, three times!
First, she burns Jo’s book of stories, the one that she uses her best handwriting and her best ideas in, because Jo refuses to beg Laurie for another ticket to the opera. Their mother’s on her side too when Jo starts to shake her.
Then, she steals Jo’s trip to Europe. Granted, Alcott tries to assure us that it’s because of Jo’s temper towards Aunt March that costs her the trip, but Amy doesn’t really put much of a fight up does she? Tra-la-la, Aunt March just happened to do it.
Finally, and this put the feather in the cap, Amy steals Jo’s suitor and childhood friend Laurie. Granted, when Laurie first proposed to Jo, Jo had to say no, because deep down she didn’t love him. He runs away to Europe where he runs into Amy on Jo’s trip!
So what is Louisa May Alcott saying to those little girls reading this book? That goodness and equality aren’t merits? That essentially, selfishness and beauty wins over? Granted, she could be going for realism, but that’s not what I need to hear at that age! I’m going to have to fix this one day. Probably through a movie version . . .