Little Women

A House Without Love (Is Not a Home) College

According to Nina Baym, the heroine of woman’s fiction “brings into being a new kind of family life, organized around love rather than money. Money subsides into its adjunct function of ensuring domestic comfort” (39-40). Little Women is the epitome of this idea, and the character that champions this is Marmee. Marnee is the moral standard in Little Women, and this women’s fiction ideology is what she wants her daughters to internalize and embody. Marmee’s ideology can be summed up in this one quote: “I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected, to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives…My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, — marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting” (152-3). She imparts her wisdom with Meg, Amy, and Jo whenever one of her daughters strays from this idea. Each daughter’s individual transformation is often subtle until a climatic moment happens that invariably leads to marriage. By the end of the book, each Meg, Amy, and Jo gained what Alcott believed a “Little Woman” should have — a caring...

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