*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.
For most of human history, there was a certain expectation of how women ought to behave. But even with the weight of those expectations, there are always a few women who have the courage or the instinct to follow their gut instead of blindly following the rules.
Jo March is one of these women.
Jo is the second eldest of the four March sisters. She is a tomboy, she is outspoken to the point of being temperamental at times and is far from ladylike. If she had her way, she would have been born a boy instead of a girl. She also wants to be a writer.
The reader meets Jo when she is in her mid-teens. At that point in her life, like many teenagers, she is rebelling against everything around her. She wants to be a boy and enjoy the freedoms that a boy has. Instead, she is a girl and bound to rules of what it is to be a girl. She alternatively fights and loves her sisters, while receiving sage advice from her mother.
Jo is best friends with Laurie, the boy next door. While on the surface, he would be a good match for her, but Jo knows in her heart that it would not be a happy marriage.
In the end, Jo is not only content in her own skin, but also finds happiness with Professor Bhaer, a German professor who she meets while briefly living in New York.
To sum it up: Sometimes the journey of a character is simple recipe: self-confidence and the instinct to follow what you know is right instead of just following the crowd. Over the course of the book, Jo grows from a young girl itching to find her place in the world to a woman who has not only found that place, but has also found the confidence to be herself. That is a journey that is both memorable and worth watching. It’s no wonder that Jo March is character the reader and audiences are still drawn to more than a century after they were first introduced to her.