Little Women: Class and Gender

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Louisa May Alcott Pages: 4 (1604 words) Published: November 15, 2013
Louisa May Alcott’s mid nineteenth century novel Little Women is a book often known as a novel of identity while recognizing and breaking the normal social order. Highly criticized identity developments often used by critics are the social and gender aspects. The March girls are often recognized as an abnormal case in socio-economic order and challenge gender roles, mostly credited to their upbringing by Mrs. March. In the article Resentful Little Women: Gender and Class feeling in Louisa May Alcott, author Stephanie Foote argues that the negative emotions and positive values the March girls learn in their home shape their relationships to the outside about their class, social status, and gender behavior.

Foote initially argues about what class means in terms of Little Women. She states, “Class and status are ... always about emotional affect, for class and status, although deeply structural, are first experienced as deeply personal” (Foote 66). Not only is class personal, but referred to as a personal attribute. A supportive text she uses is when Meg goes to vacation with the Moffats and Meg compares herself to their fashions and possessions. Meg begins to be affected by their possessions, feeling that the more time she spent with Annie, “the more she envied her, and sighed to be rich” (Alcott, 77). Foote refers to Meg as injured, along with feeling ashamed and angry. Mrs. March takes this opportunity to “indirectly [indict]” the Moffats and insist that people should know “their worth is not based on how much money that have but in how they understand the meaning of money in a ‘home’ ” (Foote 73). Mrs. March is teaching that, “class...is a personal quality”, a positive lesson that the March girls follow throughout the novel.

Although the March family has moved to another home and has lost a great deal of money, they have been able to maintain their spots in the same socioeconomic class. Foote accurately makes the argument that although the March’s have...
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