Study Guide

The Vaughns in Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott

The Vaughns

The Vaughns are an aristocratic British family and friends of the Laurences. The March girls meet them at a picnic hosted by Laurie, and there is much friendly British-versus-American banter. Kate Vaughn, the oldest girl, is patronizing to Meg because Meg has to work as a governess; Fred, the twin brother of Frank, tries to cheat Jo at croquet and she exposes him; Grace, the youngest, becomes fast friends with Amy. In later years, Fred Vaughn falls in love with Amy and asks her to marry him. She almost does so, simply because he is wealthy and pleasant, but eventually realizes that her affections lie elsewhere.

The Vaughns are minor characters in Little Women, but they stand in for an entire segment of British society that hard-working families like the Marches would have had to deal with. They're a crude stereotype of nineteenth-century British aristocrats – horrified by the idea that someone might have to work for a living, interested in appearances more than principles, and not really able to understand American values.