*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have seen any of the adaptations.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Little Women to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
There is something to be said about birth order and personality. In Little Women, Meg March is the oldest of four March girls. The March family is today what we would call middle class. They are not super wealthy, but they are not poor either. The book starts as The Civil War rages on, the girl’s father is fighting for the North. To supplant the family income, Meg works as a governess for a local family. Like many first-born children, Meg often acts as a secondary parent to her younger sisters.
But that does not mean that Meg is perfect by any stretch of the imagination. She is still growing up, trying to figure out who she is and how she wants to live her life. Along the way, she lets her wealthy friends turn her into their personal makeover project and eventually marries John Brooke (who shall be discussed at a later date), who according to Aunt March (who will also be discussed at a later date) is not an appropriate match.
To sum it up: Archetypes are one facet of character development. But the archetype is only the skeleton of the character. It is up to the writer to flesh out the character and make them feel alive. Meg March feels alive because despite being the archetypal responsible and level-headed first-born, she still has her imperfections and her faults. That is why audiences and readers still keep going back to Meg and the rest of the characters in Little Women more than a century after the original publication date.