Little Women: At the End of the Female Tether

Suhail AlHammady

“I just feel like…. I just feel like women (sighing), they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts, and they got ambition; they’ve got talent as well as just beauty”, said Jo to her mother as she was trying to invoke the spirits that haunts her in the shape of her frustration from the unjust presuppositions society expect from her and womankind to fulfil.

When “Little Women” was published in 1868, the world was introduced to the concept of women beyond the mere abstraction of flesh and desire and, furthermore, a bit beyond the romantic perspective prevalent at the time…. In other words, the world was introduced to Woman the spirit, the mind, and the heart as well as Woman the human being.

Louisa May Alcott encapsulated the voices of women who were living under the tyranny of the restrictions imposed on their faculties, which inevitably lead to the demise of the role of women and the limitation of their production as active members in society aside from their axiomatic role as housewives.

The novel dwells in the eccentric nature of the upbringing as well as the relationship among 4 sisters of the March family: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Essentially, it is a semi- autobiographical that follows the details of the life of the author but in a fictional, almost rom-com mold.

The novel was brought to life as it was adapted by Columbia Pictures production company in 2019. In spite of the fact that the novel was previously turned, on different occasions, into multiple shows on prime TV, plays, and movies, nonetheless, this adaptations, directed by Greta Gerwig, was a fresh depiction that exhibited the core of the novel in a modern mold, which really reshaped the adaptation and helped the narrative into becoming a collage of the artistic, romantic, dramatic, and real.

The movie was a massive hit, culminating 206 million dollars worldwide and generating over 16 million dollars in its opening week. It was also nominated for 183 awards, such as the BAFTA, the Golden Globe, and the Writers Guild of America amongst others, claiming victory of 71 awards- perhaps, the most prestigious is the Oscars for the best achievement in costume design, and a nomination for both best motion picture of the year as well as best
performance by a leading actress (Saoirse Ronan).

The Unbelievable performance of the actresses, under the artistic guidance of the director, sparked a new light in the adaptation of the novel, bringing a history of struggle and triumph into being. The great Roger Ebert, a prolific and world renowned movie critic, says” Gerwig captures her ahead- of- its- time spirit and turns into something infectious for a new generation with their own aspirations, whatever they may be”

Numerous underlying themes come to play in the movie; the most intrinsic one, perhaps in the entire adaptation, is limitations in terms of the role given to women in society.

In actuality, restrictions were not merely a direct product of the external factors that were predominant around that epoch but a birth child of the idiosyncratic relationship between the external and internal as well.

The stark contrast among the sisters was, undoubtedly, conducive in perpetuating their suffering. Meg, the oldest of the March sisters, were a clear example of a woman who tries to break from the traditional mold by her unhinged proclivity towards writing, and her aspiration to become a renowned writer. And although she reached for the skies in her attempts as a prolific amateur, Meg used to sell the pieces she made as incognito under an alias name she attributed to her friend…” it’s just, no one even cares to hear my stories anyway” speaking to her sister Beth….

The other March sisters, beside Beth, on the other hand, are caught in a rift between accepting the norms and settling for an arranged marriage, or deciding to drift in the direction of the compass of love. In one of the most moving, heart breaking scenes in the movie, the notion of physical, mental, and emotional restriction is perfectly brought to live in the form of an intense dialogue between Amy and Laurie (the flamboyant male character who fell in love with Jo and later got rejected after announcing his love)” …. I’m just a woman. And as a woman I have no way to make money, not enough to earn a living and support my family. Even if I had my own money, which I don’t, it would belong to my
husband the minute we were married. If we had children, they would belong to him not me. So don’t sit here and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is ….”

An argument can be made on the fact that women were held prisoners in the hands of a pre-programmed proclivity towards feelings of insecurities and self-content. It can be self-evident that this issue is still prevalent till this day despite the unprecedented technological advancements, the progress in the area of liberties, and the rights given to females around the world.

Social conditioning, from childhood, under the consensus of traditional roles in society for genders, can be seen as a manufacturer of a sense of agreeability in terms of what females should or shouldn’t do. Women, in this regard, are, basically, spoon-fed what roles they are going to carry out in the future regardless of their inclination towards anything that interests
them.

On the other side of the spectrum, psychologist, Dr. Jordan B Peterson, argues against the idea of temperamental inclination under the effect of social engineering. He holds the view of an inclination in terms of biological and characteristic distinction between the male and female gender. The case, according to Dr. Jordan, is clearly exhibited in Scandinavian countries, where equality of outcome was billed as a law. Fields, like engineering, were found to be predominantly occupied with males compared to fields as nursing, where
women represents the majority of the demo graphs.

Regardless of how the movie can be interpreted, or how it resonates, the spectator is immediately put inside a blender of conflicted emotions, where, in the end, a revolution arises internally in which what was before is not the same as now. Feminism, whether now or in the realms of the past, becomes a battleground between the notion of accepting presupposed images versus an aspiration for making an imprint in the world, as it was perfectly elaborated in the transformation Jo went through from being the archetypal subservient female and into the fearless, not-taking-no-for an answer woman. It brings about a mesmerizing sensation that elevates the experience of being indulged in this genre
of movies, and it caresses both; the heart and mind.


Suhail Al-Hammady An Aspiring creative writer and a “fun” guy. A graduate of the English Language Department of the Faculty of Languages . Currently on a journey to become a household name ahead of the many established frontiers in the writing community. 

Categories: 13TH ISSUE, GENERAL

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