A Deeper Look at Little Women

(The 1994 Remake)

The Story Line.

 

The movie, over time, tells the story of the March family.  It’s an adaptation of the book, Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott about her own family.  The setting is Concord, Massachusetts during the Civil War.  Marmee, the girl’s mother, is managing her girls and her home without the help of her husband, who is away at war. 

The four “girls” who become the “little women” are:  Meg, the beautiful, very proper oldest sister, Jo, the next born, a tom-boy who often embarrasses Meg with her behavior, then Beth, the shy, emotionally fragile third sister and last, the romantic, elegant Amy, the youngest. 

As time passes, the “girls” become “women,” each taking a different life path that is true to their individual personalities.  

Meg and Amy fall more into the expectations of the time; they know that they want to marry and have children and they do.  Jo, on the other hand, wishes she were a man and had the independence and rights that men have.  She takes an entirely different path from her sisters when she moves to New York, to pursue a writing career.    Beth, the quiet, self-conscious, and socially timid, sister just wants to stay at home with her parents and she does.

One of the things that draws me to this movie is that each of these women, all five of them, including Marmee, have a self-awareness that is unusual for the time they live in.

The girl’s self-awareness is due to two things:  their father and mother joined the German philosophical movement, which stood for two major ideas:  (1) Transcendence (part of the German philosophy, meant “perfecting oneself,” and (2) the movement embraced the idea that (a) all humans have a right to be respected, and (b) every person has a right to a good education, no matter their race, color or creed. 

We see that this movement was most played out in Jo’s life.  While she does later marry, she also opens a school of her own and becomes a renowned writer.

The second influence in the girl’s lives is their strong mother, Marmee, who teaches them:  (1) to value themselves for their inner qualities rather than their beauty, and (2) emphasizes that they should share their individual gifts with the world.  She encourages them to explore the “wonderful workings of their minds” and is sad that she cannot give her girls a “more just world.”  She encourages them to be realistic about possessions and men but to value things other than those.

Even just looked at on the surface, this movie is a really good one.  

 

A Deeper Look at the Personalities and the Values.

 

One of the most interesting things about this movie is that the whole family system is rich in its diversity.  Each of the girls is different in personality from the others in significant ways.  Meg is a typical eldest child, over-responsible in every way, her mother’s best helper. Her two strongest personality types are Pleasing and Control: Over Herself and Over Her EnvironmentHer personal needs and ambitions are modest.

Jo is a strong Superiority type.  She’s a heavy goal-setter who eventually accomplishes her dream of publishing her book.  And then, she sets a new goal of starting her school. Really completely the opposite from Meg.  She also takes Control Over Herself about her career and marriage.  And she tries for Control Over The Situations she finds herself in. She even tries to Control Others — Meg and the man she marries when Jo sees that they’re serious.

And then there’s Beth; completely opposite from Jo. Where Jo is adventurous, Beth shrinks back.  Where Meg and Jo are both comfortable with men, Beth is not.  Where Meg and Jo want to go forward with their lives, Beth does not.  She’s content with the simplicity of her life with her parents and sisters.

And finally, there’s Amy.  From very early on in her life, she’s clear about what she wants.  Some very interesting lines come from Amy when she’s still a young girl:  (1) one does have a choice as to who to fall in love with (to all of her sisters), (b) you don’t need scores of suitors, you only need one, if he’s the right one (spoken to Meg), and (3) I always knew I would never marry a pauper.   And she doesn’t; she marries rich Laurie whom she’s known since she was young.  She’s definitely the Control Over Herself and Control Over Her Situation personalities.  The purpose of all of her Control is to achieve Comfort in her life.

The other big draw for me is the Values I see acted out and talked about in this movie.  It was such a civilized time in family living.  Some of the Values I see are:

 

  • Civility.
  • Courteousness.
  • Encouragement for each other.
  • Family.
  • Modesty.
  • Offering aid when someone needs it.
  • Obedience.
  • Respect for each other and their differences.
  • Respect for elders.
  • Deep listening and valuing of parents.
  • Sacrifice for the family – Jo’s selling her hair.          
  • Honesty – after Jo sells her hair.  Later that evening Beth finds Jo crying and asks is it about their father.  Jo says, No, it’s about her hair.
  • Responsibility – when their father and husband need Marmee, she goes, having faith in her daughters that they can manage without her.  They do.
  • Faith in each other.
  • Self-denial.
  • Independence.
  • Hard Work.
  • Acceptance of their “Poor” situation and they don’t complain but cope with it gracefully.

 

Overall, I give this movie four stars out of four.  If what I’ve written appeals to you and you have time, rent it and watch it.  If you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Also, if you’d like to know more about Values and the different Personality Types, just check out the Menu and you’ll find more explanation about them.

 

My warmest wishes until next time,

                                                           Joan

 

            Thanks so much for reading and if you think anyone else would enjoy this, please pass it along.               

 

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