Study Guide

Literary Qualities of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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In writing Little Women, Alcott broke much new ground while adhering, structurally, to many conventions of mid-nineteenth-century young adult literature. The novel is an unusual example of young adult literature of the time because Alcott endows her characters with both faults and virtues; avoids preaching to the reader; writes in a simple but accurate style; employs simple and often humorous dialogue; and demonstrates great skill as a local colorist. Little Women is typical of young adult books of the time in that it is episodic in structure, with chapters often devoted to individual sisters. Each sister's quest to overcome her "burden" in life, to become a "little woman," and to find true love serves as the unifying theme of the novel.

Alcott's application of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress reflects both the traditional and the innovative strains in her work. By structuring the moral development of her characters around...

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This section contains 428 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Little Women Study Guide
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