Hannah is the March family servant. She has lived with them and served them since Meg's birth, and even though the family has fallen on hard times she feels loyal to them and continues to work for them, possibly sometimes without wages. She is like one of the family, but she also isn't one of the family – she's a servant, and there is a class boundary between her and the Marches. Hannah's presence reminds us that the March family is still somewhat genteel and upper-class in spite of their reduced circumstances. It also reminds us of just how much work was necessary to keep a nineteenth-century house going – Marmee, her four daughters, and Hannah can only barely keep up with it!