It's been a long time since I read a book which touched me as deeply as Little Women did. The sweetness of the story was such a wonderful contrast with the bitterness of the social commentary. I fet very much like I was a friend of the girls while reading their coming of age stories.
The basic theme of the book was about a young woman's place in the world. Alcott does this three (debatably four) ways with her girls. True love, hard work and domestic life are discussed in detail. The strength required of girls to become women is shown through only through Jo. I don't agree with that because not only tomboys possess that strength. Meg fails to separate completely with Marmee after her marriage and can't manage her children without Marmee's advice. Beth is too weak physically to even enter womanhood (her life was entirely domestic, Alcott means to say that the woman doesn't belong only to the home). Amy's adult life isn't discussed much since her match is made so late. Joe is the only woman to find a partner to be her equal and to remain independent after marriage. She is Alcott's reflection of herself.
The most surprising part of the novel is the total lack of an antagonist. There's no evil. Not even a fight scene. But isn't that the best part? It's realistic. The villian is vanity and the fight is within each of the girls. Who can't relate? The goal is to be a wonderful woman. Each of them tries in their way to be good.
This is a book I'd like my daughters to read. More than likely, I'll read it again too. There's certainly a reason it's remained a girl's classic for all these years.