The power of a woman: Louisa May Alcott

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Chloe Strickland, Opinion Editor

Taking up the entire month of March, Women’s History Month is celebrated all over the world. Corresponding with National Women’s Day on March 8, the month is a time to honor women of the past, educate the present and inspire the future.

One important and inspirational woman in the scope of women’s history is Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888.

Alcott was a woman writer known best for her novel, Little Women, published in 1868, about the stages of womanhood through the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.

The novel itself was ahead of its time and was catered to a woman audience, who was not a target audience for writers at all during this time.

Alcott led an unconventional life herself by never marrying; she challenged gender norms by being a self-proclaimed writer during a time when women writers were an unconventional idea. She published under her own name (most women writers of that era published under masculine pseudonyms) and was successful during her lifetime.

In her writings, she wrote about non-traditional and controversial female characters who rejected the paths that were forced onto them.

The notorious Jo March from Little Women is an example of this character. Jo was based on Alcott herself. Jo. just like Alcott, was a writer and rejected the expectations of femininity. Jo’s most significant trait is her strive for independence and constant repulsion to romance and marrying.

Along with many other quirks, like being hot-tempered, opinionated and refusing to wear a corset, Alcott’s Jo March started a conversation that did not exist during that time.

It is a conversation, still at hand today, regarding women’s rights, like equal pay, sexual freedom and the overall need for equality.

Alcott is significant in women’s history because she encouraged women of her era to step out of the box they were forced into and has continued to inspire women over a century later.

Her book, Little Women, has had several television and film adaptations since the 1930s.

Famous writers such as J. K. Rowling and Margaret Atwood have said they found inspiration in Alcott. Rowling, in particular, has said she found comfort in Jo March as a child and that there is an influence in her character, Hermione Granger, from Harry Potter

As a woman writer myself, I find Alcott to be a person that continues to impact and is significant today.

In today’s modern society, women may not be expected to wear corsets and be indoors doing household chores, but there are still limitations and expectations. Alcott inspires us to combat these expectations and choose our own bliss.

Louisa May Alcott proved that the blueprint that society built for her as a woman was not set in stone; she went out and found her own path and encourages anyone who reads her work to do the same.

As Alcott said, “We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”