Warning: this message contains spoilers.
Halfway through Little Women, I realized every sister had something to offer to the loving, genuine March family. The bond their family shared was something so true, something that has inspired readers since 1880 (well, 1868 and 1869, really) when Louisa May Alcott published Little Women after she figured she'd try her hand at a "story for girls." I recently watched the new Little Women movie, directed by Greta Gerwig, with my friends and we all agreed there was something unique about each of the March sisters.
Marmee, the matriarch of the March family, kept them together while her husband was away serving his country in the Civil War. Although her girls were already thick as thieves and their love for one another was strong and evident, Marmee was a role model in every sense of the term and, in my opinion, the reason her girls turned out so well. Each girl learned something valuable from Marmee and I think everyone can learn something from Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth.
Eliza Scanlen as Beth March
Described by Mr. Laurence as "the quiet girl," Beth was her sister's biggest cheerleader but knew whose side to take when the other sister was in the wrong. Beth never needed anyone's approval in anything she did. She knew she was a talented pianist and her family loved to hear her play, so that was all she needed. When she got sick, she deserved all the attention from her family but if she wanted it, she never showed it. She fought until the end but knew it was her time to go. Beth teaches us to be humble and to stand up for what we know is right. She taught us to be courageous in our defeats and know that if you give something your best, that's all that matters.
Florence Pugh as Amy March
Often the troublemaker of the March sisters, Amy never took no for an answer. When she wanted something, she got it one way or another. While none of my friends wanted to admit they were "an Amy," it's definitely not a bad thing. Amy fought for the attention of anyone that would give it to her because she thought since Meg and Jo were "perfect," and since Beth was sick, there just wasn't enough attention for her. When she got older, her escape from her childhood was going to Europe with Aunt March. Years earlier, Aunt March told Amy she would take her to Europe, and Amy held her to that. She had a dream of learning to paint and she got to do it because she, begrudgingly, put up with Aunt March. It was in Europe that Amy thought she found the man she was going to marry, refused his marriage proposal, and eventually married Laurie. Sometimes things don't go our way at first because there are better things coming. Amy teaches us to never give up on our dreams and to never settle for anything less than we deserve.
Emma Watson as Meg March
The oldest of the March sisters, Meg is known for being motherly and setting the tone for the rest of her sisters. In somewhat of a sad transition, Meg goes from a happy, ambitious girl to a married woman struggling to get by. One thing that never changed was that she was always rich in love. Whether she was unmarried and living at home or living with her husband and two young children, Meg always knew there were people who loved her and she loved them in return. One of the saddest aspects of Meg's story was her conversation with her husband, John, at their dinner table. He wanted so badly for her to have the green dress she bought fabric for, but they both knew it wasn't a possibility within their budget. He was willing to give up a winter coat for his wife to have just one luxury. Meg understood the sacrifice John was going to make for her, but she understood that there were things she really needed, too. John apologized for not giving her everything she wanted, but Meg said she had everything she needed. "John Brooke is my husband, and I'm his wife," she said. While beautiful dresses are nice to have, Meg teaches us that there is rarely ever anything in this life that is more valuable than love and family. Meg's love for her family is an inspiration to all, much like how her own mother loved her and her sisters.
Saoirse Ronan as Jo March
From the get-go, Jo is headstrong and independent. At the beginning of the movie, we see that Jo moved to New York to pursue a career in writing. Jo wasn't afraid to jump into new opportunities, but she also wasn't afraid to say no. A turning point for Jo was turning down Laurie's marriage proposal (how someone could refuse Timothèe Chalamet's hand in marriage is beyond me). She told him they wouldn't be right together and that one day he would thank her for it. She ended up being right, as Laurie and Amy got married years later. Jo thought she'd never get married, but even she couldn't deny the feelings between her and Friedrich. She was extremely hurt when he critiqued her work, but his opinion meant something to her and she was crushed when he didn't give her praise for her writing. So, even though Jo knew her writing was good, she improved it until everyone knew it. She published her book and married Friedrich because sometimes things work out like they're supposed to, even if we never in a million years planned for what actually happens. One other key point in Jo's story is when Amy burns her novel when they're younger and afterward Jo tells Marmee that she has so much anger inside. Marmee says that she's angry every day, but she doesn't let it get the better of her. At that point, Jo decided she wouldn't let her anger get the better of her, either. This proved to be true when Laurie and Amy got married, and Jo was able to go on with her life because she didn't resent either of them for their decision. Jo teaches us to love fiercely and chase our dreams, even if it means moving away from our family. Jo was even willing to give up her life's work to take care of Beth. She was driven and persistent, and never gave up when publisher after publisher refused her work. Jo made sacrifices for her family and was one of the best friends to have. She teaches us that life is too short to be angry and that even our wildest dreams can come true.