Hello everyone and welcome back to #moviemonday.
This week on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), I mentioned that the last movie that I physically went to see in the cinema was Little Women, so I decided to watch it again and discuss it.
So let’s dive into Movie Monday.
Little Women was released in 2019 and the movie was directed by Greta Gerwig.
The movie is the seventh adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women.
The movie follows the lives of the March sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, although one could argue that Jo is the movie’s main protagonist out of the four sisters. The story follows the girls from childhood to adulthood. The sisters must find their own way in the world, and as they grow up they experience love and heartache. I would say that the main plot in this movie is Jo’s ambition and journey to becoming a writer. This is why I would say that while the story is about all of the March sisters, I would still say that Jo is the main protagonist because the movie starts and ends with her, and I think it could be interpreted that Jo is the one who is telling this story.
Jo March is passionate. She is stubborn. She is creative. She is strong willed. She has an active imagination, and she dreams of being a writer. At times she can seem unreasonable, or rash, but at the end of the day her heart is in the right place as she loves her family more than anything. She is very close with all of her sisters, and with her mother, even though they argue at times as all siblings do. Jo wants to be taken seriously as a writer, and she wants to make it clear that a woman can write, and that women can do more than just be romantic articles. I will discuss Jo’s character, and why I really like her in more detail in the themes section of this discussion.
Meg March is the oldest of the sisters. She is kind, she is mature, she helps her mother take care of her younger sisters while their father is away. Meg is the opposite of Jo because Meg wants what some would describe as a more traditional life. She is called the most beautiful of the sisters, and she dreams of having nice things that poverty doesn’t allow her to have. As she grows up, she matures, and she realises that her happiness does not lie in money. She marries for love, and although she and her husband are poor, she is happy. She does sometimes struggle with wishing she had more, but I think this makes her a very real, human character. She is imperfect, but none of the March sisters are perfect, and I think that is what makes them so relatable.
I will also talk about the difference between Jo and Meg in the themes section of this discussion too because I think that the story of Meg and Jo is one that carries a very important message.
Amy March is in my opinion, the most complex character in the movie. Many people dislike Amy as she can be spoiled, and a tad obnoxious at times, but I happen to really like her, and I will go on to explain why. Amy is extremely artistic, she loves to draw, she loves the idea of travelling and learning, and she looks up to her older sisters and she just wants to be like them. In her younger days, Amy can be bratty, she can be envious, and she can act out when she is angry, but she grows up to be a beautiful, educated woman who is a talented artist. It is Amy, who in this adaptation specifically, understands the reality of being a woman in this time period and I think that Florence Pugh did a remarkable job playing this arguably difficult part. I think that Amy can be a difficult character to portray because if it isn’t done correctly, she can be unlikable, but I feel that Pugh really captured how her character was feeling, and so she was able to make Amy understandable and likeable, and even admirable as she matured.
Beth March is the kindest of the sisters, she loves her family, she is always good natured, and she is extremely musical. I think that Beth and her story is what keeps the sisters so closely knit. They are aware of how precious life is, and it is Beth that teaches everyone about love and loss.
Laurie is the March’s neighbour, and he is quite literally the “boy next door”. Laurie loves being at the March’s house and he becomes fast friends with all of the March sisters but specifically with Jo. Her loves her stubborn mind, and he encourages her dreams to become a writer. Laurie is charming and kind, and he is a true friend. He is warmly embraced by the March family. Some people argue that Laurie and Jo were perfect for one another, however I disagree and I will explain why later.
There is a larger ensemble of characters in this story. Marmee March, the girls’ mother is the matriarch of the family. Marmee is warm, kind, and extremely understanding. She is a strong, steady presence and her girls are always able to lean on her. There is Aunt March, she is strict, she is somewhat cold, she is very demanding, but she wants what is best for the girls, and I would also argue that she, like Amy, understands the reality that she is living in.
I think that the movie’s key themes are love, family, loss, and maturity. The March family are connected by the love they have for one another, and they go through many trials and tribulations together, including a tragic loss. This story shows the girls as they mature from childhood to adulthood, and as they mature, we see how they grow as people. This is a family who sticks together. They argue, like all families do, they hurt each other, but when it comes down to it, they rally together, they support each other, and they realise how lucky they are to have each other.
I said earlier that I think Jo and Meg’s relationship is important and I am going to explain why. Jo and Meg are extremely different. Jo spends a long time being uninterested in romantic relationships. She wants to travel, she wants to write, she wants to be independent, and most importantly, she wants to be taken seriously as a female writer. She wants to make it clear that women “have hearts and minds”, and they can do more than simply get married.
Meg finds love, and when she falls in love, she wishes to get married. She wants to settle down, she wants to have a family, and she makes it clear that although her dreams are different to Jo’s, it doesn’t mean they are less than or invalid.
This is something that I really like about these two characters. It is important to note that this story is set in the 19th century, and at that time women were expected to thrive in the domestic sphere. They were supposed to grow up to be wives and mothers, and Jo could be described as a feminist character because she is stubbornly refusing to do that, she wants to do more, she is not demure, she is not gentle, she is not what a 19th century woman was “supposed to be”, and this is great. Jo is a great character. She is complex, she is dynamic, she has agency and it is wonderful to see, but something that I really like, is that this movie doesn’t belittle Meg’s dreams either.
It is okay to want to be a wife and a mother. It is okay to be more traditionally feminine. Meg’s dreams are just as important as Jo’s even though they are different, and as Jo grows up she sees this. She sees that if Meg is happy than that is what is important, and she also learns that she can be strong willed and independent, and she can be a writer, but she can also let love into her life.
I think this is very important, because it acknowledges that while yes woman are, and should be portrayed as more than simply being love interests to men, it is perfectly okay to choose to have love in your life, it is okay to want a relationship, and I like this modern take on this story.
I think that when it comes to women making choices, all of their choices are valid. If a woman chooses to be career driven, that is wonderful. If a woman chooses to travel, that is wonderful. If a woman chooses to be a stay at home Mam, that is wonderful. I think that we should all be free to make our own choices, and there is a big difference between someone choosing to do something as opposed to being forced to do something by someone, or by society, simply because they are a woman.
In the 19th century, women were expected by society to become wives and mothers, simply because they were women, and so it is great that Jo pushes that boundary and makes her own decisions, however Meg wants that life, and so her choosing to have that life is equally as impressive. It can be hard to present Jo’s narrative without belittling Meg’s, but this version of the story manages to do it very nicely.
I also mentioned that I don’t think that Jo and Laurie should have ended up together, and I think that Laurie and Amy are a very nice couple, and I am going to explain why. I think Jo and Laurie are wonderful friends, and Jo mentioned that they wouldn’t ever work because they’d get sick of each other and I think that that is true. Amy pushes Laurie to be his best, and I think that the adult that Amy grows up to be is the perfect match for Laurie. Amy is a very difficult character to play because she can be unlikable. Amy is always living in Jo’s shadow, and I think that in many ways the two are similar. They are both stubborn, they are both headstrong, and they can both sulk if they don’t get their way. Amy is artistic, Amy wishes to travel, Amy has dreams, she is creative, and she grows up to be an educated, smart, intuitive young woman.
Amy understands what it means to be a woman in her time. She understands that marriage is a contract. She says so in her amazing speech to Laurie that Pugh delivered so wonderfully. She knows that she grew up poor, and in order to do well in life, she must marry well and she is prepared to do so, but ultimately she ends up going with her heart and she marries Laurie.
I think that my favourite scene with Amy is the scene where she draws Laurie, he tells her how he feels, and she gets up and walks away. She tells him he is being mean, she tells him she won’t allow him to choose her just because Jo turned him down, she will not be second best, not when she has loved him all of her life, and this is the moment that captures the complexity of Amy. She has always been second to Jo. Jo is a writer, Amy is a painter. Amy got to travel with Aunt March instead of Jo because Aunt March decided to bring Amy to punish Jo. If it wasn’t for this, she likely wouldn’t have been considered. Amy is upset when she can’t go to the ball, she says why should Jo get to go when Jo doesn’t even care about it, and it is a fair point. She strikes out when she is hurt, but so does Jo, and yet it is Amy who is placed at fault. The two sisters love each other deeply, but they are the ones who argue the most and I think it is because they are so similar.
I think that this version did a great job of capturing what a nuanced character Amy actually is, and I think that she and Laurie are very well matched.
I think that this adaption is very interesting because the story isn’t told in chronological order, instead it jumps back and forth which is really interesting because I think it changes the way we view the events. I also think that the movie is a little bit slow moving at some parts, but overall I really enjoyed it, and I especially liked the movie’s ending. There won’t be any spoilers here, but I would say to anyone that they should watch this movie if they want to know what I’m talking about. Another thing to note is that Jo is our narrator seeing as it is her who is reflecting over her life, and the events of the story, so we are seeing things through Jo’s recollection of them.
I enjoyed this movie when I went to see it in the cinema. I cried in the cinema. I enjoyed watching it again, and I did cry again. It is a very touching tale, and I’ve always enjoyed the book. I think the cast was brilliant, and I think that the story managed to be somewhat modern while also staying true to the original text. I enjoyed the complexity of the themes and the characters felt very realistic and compelling. I would watch the movie again, and I’d highly recommend it.
This has been Movie Monday. Have you seen Little Women?