Motherhood in Alcott’s “Little Women”

Happy Mother’s Day, friends!

I decided there really was no better day to discuss my recent read Little Women than today: Mother’s Day. I have decided not to call this post a “spotlight” post, but it actually is a post of that nature. The only reason I’ve decided not to call it a spotlight post is because I want to really have a title specific to my topic, and not get too ahead of myself or get off topic (as I am usually prone to do).

Since it’s Mothers’ Day, I want to just look at the key themes of motherhood in Little Women and kind of make this post into a Mother’s Day commemoration at the same time. The themes of motherhood were a big takeaway for me in this book, and I got a whole lot of messages relating to the efforts of maternal love.

So, let the analysis begin!

Hilariously, Little Women was a book recommended to me by my mother. That does not stress my point enough. The book itself was a token of motherly affection to me, and as such it holds a dear place in my heart. Little Women is a book primarily about four young sisters who grow into young women. However, they grow not only into women, but they grow into women like their mother. Every daughter has so much respect and love for her mother, which is unlike what is seen in society today.

The ending of Little Women is what truly resonates the theme of motherhood and its impact on the entire story. The closing lines, in fact, are what sum up the message of the entire book.

The last words in the book are spoken by Mrs. March, the mother of the four girls: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The girls have grown throughout the course of the book, and they have grown into such lovely young women by the end of the story because of the love, care, and efforts of their mother: Marmee.

Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility—

“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!”

From Little Women, “Harvest Time”

And these are the last words spoken in the entire novel. They are spoken not by the eldest daughter or even by the narrator, but by the mother.

There is a constance throughout all of Little Women that really echoes maternal presence. Whenever there is any kind of moral dilemma or social fear in the hearts of the March girls, the reader always knows to whom the character in question will turn: Marmee.

Throughout the entire novel, the graceful, loving, and amiable qualities that make us love Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are taught them by their good mother. The backbone of Little Women is Marmee. Without Marmee, there is no Little Women.

The most significant relationship between mother and daughter seems to be of that between Jo and Mrs. March. All of the girls have a radically different and complex relationship with their mother, but Jo’s relationship with Marmee was the one that I took away from the most.

When Jo courts the German scholar Mr. Bhaer, Jo begins to fear that Mr. Bhaer does not feel the same way she feels for him. Marmee knows Jo’s plight so well, and as most mothers mischievously do, tells her daughter:

“If you happen to meet Mr. Bhaer, bring him home to tea. I quite long to see the dear man,” added Mrs. March.

Jo heard that, but made no answer, except to kiss her mother, and walk rapidly away, thinking with a glow of gratitude, in spite of her heartache, “How good she is to me! What do girls do who haven’t any mothers to help them through their troubles?”

From Little Women, “Under the Umbrella”

And Jo’s question is one that stands out among the others. Indeed, what do girls do who haven’t mothers to help them? Jo’s question encapsulates the happenings of the four March girls. What would their lives have become if their mother had not helped them through their troubles?

Meg probably would have become absorbed with vain fantasies without her mother’s guidance, Jo would never have met Mr. Bhaer if Mrs. March had never affirmed her decisions of going away to New York, Amy would never have fell in love with Laurie had she not gone away to Europe without Mrs. March’s consent, and Beth would never have been the sweet, amiable young woman she was without her mother’s love.

The entirety of Little Women primarily focuses on the actions of the girls, but the actions of the girls are influenced solely by the love of the mother.

This is true not only in the story of the March girls, but in the story of life itself. Women are influenced, and their courses of life are influenced by the mothers who love them. People of influence all around this globe have incredible tales and stories to tell. Their lives have been incredibly structured by the hand of God, and the hand of God gave many of them amazing mothers to inspire them and encourage them to be amazing.

In fact, this weekend was a life changing weekend for me, and I owe it all to the hand of God in my life, who used my mother to change my life.

I graduated with my AA from Liberty University!

True, I am seventeen, I graduated with honors, and I was the youngest of the LU graduating class this year, but that could never have been possible if my mother had never homeschooled me for sixteen years and enrolled me in LUO dual enrollment at age fifteen. And I would never have made it through all that schooling without my mother encouraging me, reminding me of my worth, and showing me how God was shaping my life.

My mother was the driving force of my life, and Christ used her in ways I could have never deemed possible.

And there she is.

There never has been such a driving force in my life as my mother.

But, returning to Little Women, in the lives of young women everywhere, so much is owed to their mothers. Behind the stories, behind my story, and behind your story, there is a mother. They are the crafters and creators of our dreams and the holders of our hearts.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

—Proverbs 31:28 ESV

I have certainly risen up this weekend, and in my success I call my mother blessed. Happy Mother’s Day, mom.

In fact, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the “Marmees” everywhere.


Emily 🐻

6 thoughts on “Motherhood in Alcott’s “Little Women”

  1. Emmy, you bless me so much…my heart is full of joy and love to see Christ in you and Christ working out of you! You are my treasure, a gift that belongs to the Father, yet I get to be apart of your story – what an honor I have! You and your siblings, thank you! You have no idea how much the Lord uses you and your siblings to grow me, shape me and show me love…I love you to the moon and back! God bless you my daughter, you have made me proud from the moment I knew you were in my womb! Let’s journey on…so much more adventures awaiting… 👍🥰💕

    1. Oh, mom, you are the best. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I am so grateful for you. Jesus blessed me with you! Without you, I don’t know where I would be. I love you! 🙂

  2. Hey there Emily, how you doing!? I just went through your blog and its totally fab, keep up this effort love and have a nice day! ❤
    Looking forward to reading from your blog more 🙂
    You have a new follower 😉

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