Review: ‘Little Women’ movie strays from gender norms


The classic American novel Little Women, was written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868 and has now been turned into a motion picture. The story follows the four March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy as they experience the gender constraints of the time as well as poverty. They look up to their mother and her lessons that family and love come first, that one should always forgive no matter how hard it may be, and that one of the greatest joys is giving.

In this coming-of-age film, the four sisters navigate through the ups and downs of life’s uncharted map to become the truest, most authentic versions of themselves. They all must recognize their strengths and weaknesses and attempt to do better and learn from their mistakes. Their mother, Marmee, played by Laura Dern, plays a role model to look up to as well as someone to come to in a time of need. 

This movie adaptation also covers situations one may encounter in life such as disappointment, loss of trust, loss of a loved one, uncertainty, betrayal, and the judgement of others. Through all of this, they overcome adversity through love and kindness. 

Unlike most movies, there is no villain. Instead, the director, Greta Gerwig’s, adaptation of the film shows all of the characters inner struggles, whether it’s Jo’s loneliness, Laurie’s laziness and broken heart, Beth’s shyness, or Amy’s pressure to marry rich and support the rest of her family. The girls must also uphold the expectations of women in society to marry as an economic proposition and to take care of their children.

In addition, Greta Gerwig does an outstanding job of echoing the books characters whom were originally based off of the former Alcott sisters. Although the lives of the March girls were very different than the Alcotts, Jo March in the 2019 film, played by Saorise Ronan, reenacted a magnificent portrayal. Jo lived in New York as a writer and school teacher to pay the bills, similar to what Alcott did to support her family when writing Little Women. She was also a free spirit who redefined the trends of the time making her way in the world by not marrying and supporting herself while proving to others that “ Women…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” as Jo March had stated. It was palpable that she wanted to support herself and not depend on a man, to be a “free spinster” as Alcott had said in her journal.

In the end, the March girls were able to guide themselves with the life lessons they learned when following their hearts, whether it was to pursue their talents or to find love. The film exposes viewers to topics of the time including gender inequality and the American Civil War. This movie would be great a watch for viewers who enjoy quirky coming-of-age movies or even enjoyed Louisa May Alcott’s novel which is also followed by two others of the series. 

Featured Photo: The main characters of the novel stand together during a scene in a movie. (Photo Credit to Columbia Pictures)

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