Maruo-Schröder, Nicole (2018):
"Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868)." Handbook of the American Novel of the Nineteenth Century. Eds. Gerhardt, Christine. Berlin: De Gruyter. 399-417. Handbooks of English and American Studies; 7.
Article in Anthology

Little Women is one of the most popular American children’s books of all times, and only rather recently have scholars (re)discovered the ways in which it can also speak to adult audiences. Tracing the development of the March sisters from “little women” to adults, the novel touches upon various aspects central for the self-conception of the American nation in the second half of the nineteenth century, ranging from an increasing influence of the capitalist marketplace to the changes regarding women’s roles. This essay foregrounds the main character Jo, focusing not just on Alcott’s criticism of the gendered restrictions that women had to face but also on their implications for female writers. Moreover, this essay briefly discusses the novel’s portrayal of the growing importance of consumption, ranging from its significance for the characters’ identity to the commodification of literature.