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Louisa May Alcott --the


New Year's Eve Ball. Marches disapprove of vain fashion. But without some show, the family would have no social presence. Good breeding not enough ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Louisa May Alcott --the

Louisa May Alcott --the good daughter--
and Little Women
LMA at 25
Bronson Alcott
Abba Alcott
  • Abolition of slavery
  • Womens rights
  • Critic of fashion
  • extremes

Both Parents Social responsibility Non-material
values Christian compassion Self-sacrifice
  • Transcendentalism
  • Fruitlands
  • Educational Reform
  • The Pilgrims Progress

Abba Alcott Abolitionist
  • How does this issue enter Little Women?

Abba Alcott Advocate of Womens Independence
  • Women at work
  • How viewed in Little Women?
  • Restrictive gender expectations
  • Lady-like appearance and behavior
  • Jos burden transformed
  • Wifely duty
  • Meg the new wife
  • The house-band

Abba Alcott Critic of Ostentatious Fashion
Abba republished John Owens The Fashionable
World Displayed
  • Extreme Fashion
  • Enforces social inequities
  • Uses exploitive manufacture
  • sweat shops
  • cotton slaves
  • Promotes egotism and self-indulgence

Silk afternoon dress, 1868-78
New Years Eve Ball
(Ch. 3)
  • Marches disapprove of vain fashion
  • But without some show, the family would have no
    social presence
  • Good breeding not enough

Winona Ryder in Little Women 1994
Meg and Fashion
  • Megs Wedding?
  • The violet silk?

Cinoline period silks, 1863-67
Bronson Alcott Transcendental Philosopher
  • Nature (including people) is rooted in God
  • People can know God through nature and intuition
  • Self-reliance, compassion, self-sacrifice

Asher B. Durands Kindred Spirits 1849
Bronson AlcottEducational Reformer
  • Education should draw out of the child his innate
    nobility and wisdom
  • My father taught in the wise way which unfolds
    what lies in the child's nature, as a flower
    blooms, rather than crammed it, like a Strasbourg
    goose, with more than it could digest. LMA

Where is Bronson Alcotts educational philosophy
strongly reflected in LW?
  • The entrance to paradise is still through the
    strait and narrow gate of self-denial Bronson
  • Experimental commune 1840s
  • Dress code
  • simple work clothes
  • non-exploitive manufacture
  • no cotton, wool, or silk
  • Vegan diet (fruit-lands)
  • No animal labor or provision (manure, honey)
  • No trade with outer world no surpluses
  • Failed insufficient crops without animals some
    members failed to perform equal labor

Experiments (Ch. 11)
  • You may try your experiment for a week, and see
    how you like it. I think by Saturday night you
    will find that . . . (LW 109)
  • What did the girls try and what did they learn?
  • How did their utopian
  • community compare to
  • Fruitlands?

The Pilgrims Progress (Bronson Alcotts
Favorite Book)
  • The Pilgrims Progress from This World to That
    Which Is to Come Delivered Under the Similitude
    of a Dream (1675)
  • John Bunyan (1628-1688) poor,
  • uneducated tinker
  • Imprisoned 12 years/1 year
  • as unlicensed Nonconformist
  • preacher
  • Wrote PP during 2nd prison term

The Pilgrims Progress Opening
  • As I walked through the wilderness of this
    world, I lighted on a certain place where was a
    Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep
    and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream. I dreamed,
    and behold I saw a man clothed with rags . . . a
    book in his hand, and a great burden upon his
    back . . . As he read, he wept, and trembled . .
    . saying, What shall I do?

Christians Journey
  • Christian, instructed by the Evangelist, sets out
    for the Celestial City to escape destruction of
  • Bogs down in the Slough of Despond pulled out by
  • Visits the House Beautiful, the Valley of
    Humiliation, Doubting Castle, Vanity Fair (show
    of worldliness, materialism, feasting, etc.)

William Blakes illustration of Christian
How does Little Women reflect the structure and
themes of The Pilgrims Progress?
Mrs. Marchs Proposal
  • Do you remember how you used to play Pilgrims
    Progress when you were little? Nothing delighted
    you more than to have me tie my piece-bags on
    your backs for burdens, give you hats and sticks,
    and rolls of paper, and let you travel through
    the house from the cellar, which was the City of
    Destruction, up, up, to the house-top, where you
    had all the lovely things you could collect to
    make a Celestial City. . . . Now, my little
    pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play,
    but in earnest, and see how far on you can get
    before father comes home (10-11)

  • Megs burden
  • Jos burden
  • Beths burden
  • Amys burden

I think too much of my looks and hate to work
Ill try to be . . . a little woman, not
rough and wild.
Mine is dishes and dusters, and envying girls
with nice pianos, and being afraid of people.
I am a selfish pig!
Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful
  • The very big house did prove a Palace Beautiful,
    though it took some time for all to get in, and
    Beth found it hard to pass the lions. Old
    was the biggest one. . . . The other
    lion was the fact that they were and
    Laurie (Little Women 58)
  • Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and
    are placed there for trial of faith where it is,
    and for discovery of those that have none keep
    in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come
    unto thee. (The Pilgrims Progress, part I,
    stage 3)
  • What courageous things does Beth do in this

Amys Valley of Humiliation
  • I should not have chosen that way of mending
    a fault . . . But Im not sure that it wont do
    you more good than a milder method. You are
    getting to be altogether too conceited and
    important, my dear, and it is quite time you set
    about correcting it (Little Women 70).
  • What had happened?


Jo Meets Apollyon
The Destroyer -- a name used (Rev. ix. 11) for
the angel of the bottomless pit, variant of the
Hebrew Abaddon.
  • You dont know you cant guess how bad it is!
    I get so savage, I could hurt any one, and enjoy
    it (LW 79)
  • What had happened?

Christian Defeats Apollyon, Illustration in The
New Amplified Pilgrims Progress
Meg Goes to Vanity Fair
  • Belle Moffats soiree
  • How does Med dress?
  • How does she behave?

Champagne, flirting, silly talk Im not Meg
tonight Im a doll, who does all sorts of
crazy things. To- morrow I shall put away my
fuss and feathers, and be desperately good
again (LW 94)
Part I and Part II
  • Female-centered world (1 male pro-visionally
    admitted) where burdens are tackled and
    Progress achieved.

Men are incorporated in a strictly
non-patriarchal arrangement with males exhibiting
the nurturing behavior conventionally reserved
for women in separate spheres society.
A New Vision of the Family
  • Dont shut your husband out of the nursery, but
    teach him how to help in it. His place is there
    as well as yours, and the children need him . . .
    That is the secret of our home happiness.
    Father does not let business wean him from the
    little cares and duties that affect us all. . . .
    Each do our part alone in many things, but at
    home we work together, always (392)

(No Transcript)
Graphics Acknowledgements
  • www.louisamayalcott.org
  • William Blakes illustration of Christian
  • apollyon www.orionsgate.org
  • vanity fair www.thebaptistpage.com
  • Fruitlands www.esoteric.msu.edu/Tours/Alcott.html
  • Durands Kindred Spiris www.artchive.com
  • movie stills www.erasofelegance.com/littlewomenph
    otos.html and www.romanticmovies.about.com
  • www.costumes.org/history
  • Bunyan, Allegorist www.wmcarey.edu/carey/portrait
  • Violet silk dress http//www.columbia.edu/itc/bar
  • Victorian schoolchildren www.pembschool.org/uk
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