Love is everywhere in Little Women, a novel about four marriageable sisters and their various friends. Often it is romantic love, either reciprocated or unrequited. But there are many other kinds of love that sustain the characters, and it's even suggested that they could substitute for romantic love if necessary. These other forms of love include the different bonds of family, especially parent to child and sisters to each other. They also include more abstract affections, such as the love of country (patriotism) or the love of God (religion). Love is able to sweeten almost any sour situation, from poverty to loss to loneliness, and nothing can compensate for the lack of love.
Questions About Love
- What are the different kinds of love that provide structure for this novel? Try to brainstorm at least 3-5 different types. How do these different forms of love complement one another?
- Do you find it frustrating that Jo can't make herself love Laurie? Why or why not?
- How does the realistic love that the March girls experience contrast with the passionate love in the romantic plays and stories that Jo writes? What do you make of this contrast?
- What kinds of love does the novel suggest are essential for people to have in order to lead happy, fulfilled lives? What kinds can they do without, if necessary?
Chew on This
Because the March girls have the strong foundation of their mother's love, they are able to make intelligent choices when faced with different prospects for romantic love.
Little Women suggests that love between siblings, especially sisters, is more important than romantic love.