by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Annie Moffat's foolish lessons in coquetry came into her mind, and the love of power, which sleeps in the bosoms of the best of little women, woke up all of a sudden and took possession of her. (23.34)
Sometimes Alcott's novel reinforces negative stereotypes and chauvinistic attitudes – such as that women are especially jealous, or that they say "no" when they mean "yes." These passages can be frustrating for contemporary readers, especially since we still combat these stereotypes in our culture today.
On her left were two matrons, with massive foreheads and bonnets to match, discussing Women's Rights and making tatting. (27.5)
In this passage, Alcott develops a contrast between the progressive discussion about women's rights and the more traditional female activity of needlework ("tatting" is a kind of lace). This contrast is emblematic of the novel as a whole, which includes both liberal and conservative approaches to woman's place in the world and in the home.
"You laugh at me when I say I want to be a lady, but I mean a true gentlewoman in mind and manners, and I try to do it as far as I know how. I can't explain exactly, but I want to be above the little meannesses and follies and faults that spoil so many women." (30.62)
Amy associates moral goodness with aristocracy – being a "lady" or a "true gentlewoman." Her sisters, by contrast, tend to associate goodness with hard work – rolling up your sleeves and diving in.