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ENGB35 Little Women 1.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Pouneh Saeedi

ENGB35 Little Women 1 th  18 c, private/domestic sphere (women) o Not about leaving home, but about staying home o Or desire to find a home o Completely different from Crusoe o When Jo and Meg talk about going on adventures  Dancing and going to tea next door  Rather than finding treasure  Published in 1868, second part published after, and the two were bounded together  Very popular and praised from the get-go o A straightforward, moral book o Fictional sermon that will enlighten the little girls that read it  In line with teachings of female domesticity  Never far from the surface of the book  Hitting you in the head with the point  Puritan framework: o ICR: moral female child o Much stronger in American culture than European culture o Book written 150 years after Crusoe was written o Pilgrim‟s Progress provides moral structure for the book  Adult books, suitable for children  Allegory in which the main character Christian, takes up burden, leaves his family sets off quest for Celestial City (heaven)  Each adventure stands for a religious meaning  The meaning of what happens in the adventures comes from beyond the text  So allegory for the Christian soul o Girls in LW supposed to follow and recreate this journey, and get rid of their particular burdens o Ch. 4 called “burdens” o Ch. 7-10 describes how each sister deals with her respective challenge also del  Beth = Little Faithful, finds Palace Beautiful  Jo Meets Apollyon, her anger needs to be controlled  Meg goes to Vanity Fair, Moffat House  Amy‟s Valley of Humiliation o Not straightforward Puritan lit:  The child hero wants to make his maker as soon as possible, but the sisters are only playing Pilgrims, turned into a game at the beginning  The burdens that they bear not presented in the narrative that are issues that are terrible, like sin, or moral corruption  But are real-world issues that they face, largely social issues  Which solicits reader‟s empathy/sympathy even if puritanical model foreign to most of us  Beth falls ill, because she‟s the good girl, so she‟s closest to die  But she doesn‟t want to die, so Alcott is humanizing this moral  Very radical for American fiction (English fiction does away with its Christian bearings long before)  The first naughty children allowed to survive and prosper in American children‟s lit, but not punished, and instead taught to deal with them  Alcott wrote it to pay well „cause agent realized gap in children‟s lit, no girls‟ lit, so gave her a contract o Sort of has play within the confined rules in children‟s lit, but the way she manipulates it is interesting o Nodding to puritanical framework, but subtly turns it away  Book deeply split between fantasies of rebellion and proper moral message and social definition of 1860s womanhood o You can read it as:  Moral text that reinforces conventional social constructions of femininity  Radical text for its time  She was an early feminist, early supporter of female suffragists  Radical text because it muddies the waters so much, so fundamental, that it unleashes energies that it cannot be mana
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