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Little Women

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Literature and Writing Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"I don't see how you can write and act such splendid things, Jo. You're a regular Shakespeare!" exclaimed Beth, who firmly believed that her sisters were gifted with wonderful genius in all things. (1.58)

Beth's faith in Jo's writing tells us more about her love for her sister than it does about Jo's ability. In fact, Beth's over-the-top praise makes us think that, just maybe, Jo might not be that good a writer yet…

Quote #2

The storm cleared up below, for Mrs. March came home, and, having heard the story, soon brought Amy to a sense of the wrong she had done her sister. Jo's book was the pride of her heart, and was regarded by her family as a literary sprout of great promise. It was only half a dozen little fairy tales, but Jo had worked over them patiently, putting her whole heart into her work, hoping to make something good enough to print. She had just copied them with great care, and had destroyed the old manuscript, so that Amy's bonfire had consumed the loving work of several years. It seemed a small loss to others, but to Jo it was a dreadful calamity, and she felt that it never could be made up to her. Beth mourned as for a departed kitten, and Meg refused to defend her pet. Mrs. March looked grave and grieved, and Amy felt that no one would love her till she had asked pardon for the act which she now regretted more than any of them. (8.36)

This scene recalls a famous anecdote from earlier in the century that Louisa May Alcott may have known: Thomas Carlyle, after writing the first volume of his history The French Revolution, sent the only copy to his friend John Stuart Mill – and Mill's maid accidentally burned it. In Alcott's novel, this story is transformed into a domestic conflict between sisters. Jo is forced to put her love for her little sister ahead of her love for her writing.

Quote #3

Gardening, walks, rows on the river, and flower hunts employed the fine days, and for rainy ones, they had house diversions, some old, some new, all more or less original. One of these was the 'P.C.,' for as secret societies were the fashion, it was thought proper to have one, and as all of the girls admired Dickens, they called themselves the Pickwick Club. (10.2)

Jo – and her sisters – hone their appreciation for literature by imitating Dickens's style and acting out the plot of his first novel, The Pickwick Papers.

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