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Little Women

Little Women

  

by Louisa May Alcott

Dresses, Gloves, and Clothing

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The March sisters are often defined by their clothing and accessories. Jo's tomboyishness comes out in her burned dresses and dirty gloves; Meg and John Brooke's romance is symbolized by one of her gloves which he adopts as a keepsake; Amy's class aspirations are carried by her makeshift boots, which she painted instead of buying a new pair. The use of clothing and accessories as a symbolic category in the novel contrasts strangely with the values that Alcott encourages – abandoning greed and materialism and focusing on love, family togetherness, and principle. Instead of nice clothes and nice principles being antagonistic to one another, they compliment each other. Looking good, but not too good, is the sign of a good woman. It means that you are demure and proper, but that you're not a spendthrift.

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