The general perception is that books with strong female protagonists are few and far between, and even then, the readership is limited. So what if you have a book with four female leads? Yes, that’s Little Women for you!
Written by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is the story of the four March sisters, who live with their mother while their father is away at war. Even though there are four leads, there seems to be a great many female characters in the book, and very few men among them! If you ask me, it only makes the story much more interesting!
The main character is Jo, the tomboyish second sister, who is based on the author herself. The other sisters are – Meg, the eldest, prettiest and a homebody of sorts; Beth, the sickly sister who is also the calmest and most loving; Amy, the youngest and spoilt sister. Among them all, Jo seems to be the one most people can relate to, since her character is the most ‘human’ one, with flaws that you and I share. The sisters’ lives revolve around their mother, Marmee, who is a kind, compassionate woman, always helping those in need.
Of late, many readers seem to think that this book is no longer relevant. It’s true that the book is from a time when a young girl’s main job was to find good marriageable prospects – it was seen as a major achievement! But look deeper and it goes to show how life isn’t really that simple – Meg’s life shows that people really need to put in the effort to make a marriage work; Jo writes for money, and makes no pretences about it being for art’s sake; Amy gets jealous of the other rich girls who have everything they want. Beth seems to be the only exception, and is almost saintly in her speech and behavior, probably due to her frequent illnesses.
I feel that the author is really trying to show that women do want more than being married; they want to make a life of their own, with their own unique talents. There’s also a lot of focus on being dignified and helpful despite not having much money, and the sisters are also shown to get frustrated because of this at times. All in all, any woman would feel like she’s a mix of all the four sisters and having all their various characteristics – truly multi dimensional!