Little Women Speak Big Words

Strength and InfluenceMedia

Little Women is one of those famous works people often bring up to you, but you never get the chance to either see the film or read the novel. However, that did not stop me from watching the newest adaptation of it, released in 2019, on the silver screen.

Before watching the film, my first impression of Little Women was that it would definitely be heavily related to feminism; however, I was shocked at the array of issues Little Women is able to touch upon. Not only does it brilliantly showcase the realistic aspect of sisterly love and an empowering image of feminism, it also displays the difficulties of wealth disparity in society and the struggles of young people to find their own identity.

As the oldest sibling in my family, I can easily relate to the love-hate relationship between the March sisters in the movie. While I have just one sister, let alone four, I can already think of countless times we have wanted to kill each other for the dumbest reasons possible. I’m going to dive deeper on the most misunderstood sister, Amy. Amy and Jo have the strongest personalities among the four sisters, so tension between them frequently escalates more abruptly than it does with Beth and Meg. One of the most dramatic scenes in the film is when Amy decides to take revenge on Jo because of a very small slight. Obviously, not every single person has acted so extremely, but I’m pretty sure everyone with siblings has these types of evil thoughts come across their mind every once in a while. To me, Amy is the most realistic and relatable sister out of all four because she displays the raw emotions that any sibling normally has, including jealousy and what I call nonchalant love.

Nonchalant love is a term I made up to explain the situation when people’s affection toward one another is purposely not shown. They want to appear to be nonchalant with each other despite secretly looking out for one another. This is often seen in Asian households where parents never say the word “love” out loud to their kids or even compliment their children, but show that they care through small actions such as packing an extra banana for their kid’s lunch in case they are hungry and forcing their kid to wear an extra jacket because they worry it will get cold outside. Tying this back to Little Women, Amy, after angering Jo, tries to redeem herself for her reckless action. Jo, being the headstrong one, of course doesn’t forgive her easily.

Lastly, as the sisters move forward to adulthood, economic problems begin to unravel in their life. Meg, the eldest among the sisters, neglects the social norm of marrying for wealth and decides to follow her heart by falling in love with a middle class man who is a teacher. Amy claims that “marriage is an economic proposition,” since after a woman marries a man, her money and children will all belong to the husband. Women rarely make enough money to support the entire family, so marrying rich is a necessity. Her statement may be controversial to many others, but it is undeniably correct given the status of women during the 19th century. Similarly, Jo is constantly doubted by the people around her, as they don’t expect a woman to make a name for herself from an unconventional career, such as being a writer. When Jo is proposing her work to a publisher, it is obvious that the publisher doesn’t take her seriously through his condescending attitude towards her. Although as time progressed, women slowly gained more rights, including suffrage through the 19th Amendment and the feminist movement in the late 1900s, many women still suffer from prejudice in the workforce.

The lively performances of the actors and artistic costumes also contributed greatly to the overall success of the movie. It brought the fictional characters written in the original book to life. Florence Pugh, who played Amy, is the perfect embodiment of Amy. Since the movie lets the audience peek through the characters’ different stages of life, Pugh is able to accurately personify Amy’s maturation process throughout the years. I also would like to commend Timothee Chalamet, who played Laurie, for bringing dimension to the character by charming the audience with his overflowing charisma while simultaneously bringing out Laurie’s vulnerability. Moreover, this movie won an Oscar for Best Costumes in 2020. What makes the costumes in this movie particularly breathtaking is that the designers not only make them realistic, they also add an essence to each character’s costume to make it look like it was made for the character. Most notably, Amy’s distinctive hat that she wears in her adult life radiates a sense of regalness and reservedness, showing the audience her change from childishness to maturity.

Watching Little Women makes me feel like I am not little anymore. It demonstrates how four sisters with different personalities progress from naivete to maturity. Instead of slamming social issues right in people’s face, the movie projects them to the audience in a subtle way that doesn’t appear to be preaching. The unique backgrounds of the four sisters intertwine with each other to form a versatile lesson that can apply to every audience that is watching. With all these qualities in mind, I rate this movie a five out of five without question.

Nanyee Lin is a 17-year-old living in Taipei, Taiwan. She enjoys listening to different types of music and sometimes plays them with her guitar. She is also a huge "Potterhead" and has memorized every Harry Potter spell by heart.

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