Little Women (was Re: [DWJ] Re: The Last Battle (was witches in fiction, and exploiting) )

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise jenne at
Thu Jun 22 00:23:43 EDT 2006

> My own suspicion is that this is less Alcott than market pressure, but I
> don't know enough about her literary history to insist on this
> interpretation.  I wonder how acceptable a spinster ending would have been
> to her readership.

According to _The Dictionary of Literary Biography_ (yes, I looked her 
up just this afternoon because of the discussion), it's absolutely about 
market pressure:

"The second volume of the book was written at least partly in response 
to Alcott's readers' demands to see how and whom the March sisters 
marry. Though it is difficult to ascertain whether Alcott had the sequel 
to volume one clearly designed when she wrote the first volume, it is 
clear that her readers' demands changed markedly the direction that the 
second volume took. Though in real life Alcott's older sister Anna, the 
model for Meg, had married, neither Alcott nor her younger sister May, 
the models for Jo and Amy, had marital prospects. Her sister Elizabeth, 
Beth in the novel, was dead, so that finding a partner for Beth to marry 
was unthinkable. If Alcott were to continue in her autobiographical 
vein, it was clear that she would frustrate her readers by not marrying 
off Jo and Amy, which might hinder the sales of the novel and might 
endanger future books that she might write. On the other hand, were she 
to proceed to marry off the March sisters, she would have some strenuous 
fictionalizing to do. "

--Ruth K. MacDonald, "Louisa May Alcott," Dictionary of Literary
Biography, Volume 42: American Writers for Children Before 1900.  Edited
by Glenn E. Estes. The Gale Group, 1985. pp. 18-36. 

For myself, the marriage that I really am not comfortable with in Little 
Women is where Amy marries Laurie. I know there isn't time to match them 
both up with other people, but geez, I just don't see them actually 
making a go of it either; I think she succumbs to the pressure to marry 
ONE of 'the March girls' off to Laurie.

-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne at 
"Justice is better than chivalry if we cannot have both." 
   -- Alice Stone Blackwell

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