| Quote #1
"I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good. To be admired, loved, and respected. To have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Meg, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy." (9.142)
Don't kid yourself: this is a nineteenth-century novel about four sisters, and getting married was considered the most important thing for a woman to do at that time period. Even Mrs. March, who is liberal and even radical for the time in many of her views, still thinks that marriage is the ideal for which women should strive.
| Quote #2
"I just wish I could marry Meg myself, and keep her safe in the family." (20.29)
Jo's wish is intriguingly taboo, suggesting same-sex desire and an almost-too-intimate bond between sisters. It's also a reminder that marriage will divide the March girls; as each girl marries and becomes a wife, she will become the center of a new family, separate from her siblings.
| Quote #3
I may be mercenary, but I hate poverty, and don't mean to bear it a minute longer than I can help. One of us must marry well. Meg didn't, Jo won't, Beth can't yet, so I shall, and make everything okay all round. (31.30)
Amy approaches marriage pragmatically: she's going to marry for money. Don't judge her too harshly until we see whether she can force herself to do something so mercenary or not!