**WARNING: possible spoilers for those who haven’t read the book!
“Little Women”‘s Meg & Amy are, I think, characters not given enough credit. The boyish Jo is the one who, flying about, grasps everyones attention, holding all the dear on-lookers enthusiasm, quickly turning into an idol among young girls. The good Beth is praised by all as the saintly, pious giver of self. But what of Meg and Amy? Meg is admired by all as the beauty of the family, and Amy as the vain artist. Despite these seemingly shallow descriptions, there is so much to their characters, yet it’s tom-boy Jo who gets all the attention of young female readers. I don’t dislike Jo, I simply believe too much emphasis is put on her. Meg and Amy put such effort into becoming better women, and it goes unrecognized by girls in rapture with ambitious tom-boy Jo. So know that this post is not to criticize Jo, but rather to put some emphasis on Meg & Amy, in the hope of drawing female readers attention to these splendid female & truly feminine characters.
From when we first meet the sisters, Meg is the motherly oldest. She sees it as her duty to financially contribute to the family while her father is away at war, she takes it upon herself to tend to her youngest sister, she is the epitome of social etiquette, is kind, gracious, gentle, warm, cordial, if a little shy. She holds standards for the rougish Jo & Laurie. Certainly she has her flaws – she is too concerned with her social standing, and is materialistic, setting her desires on pretty and expensive things.
Amy is the spoiled youngest. She is too vain with her looks, headstrong and occasionally haughty. Yet at her tender age she is she sees the greater purpose in life. She sees the value in virtuous womanhood, and chooses to achieve it. She denies herself, understands that she must grow in love for Our Lord (and even strikes up a devotion to Our Lady via her great aunts Catholic French maid – ha HA!).
As the years pass, Meg marries the dashing Mr.Brooke, and we see her go through struggles and accomplishments. She looses her temper at John in frustration with her wifely duties, yet after consideration, she meekly apologizes and makes a firm resolution never to take the same steps that lead to her un-loving mistake. Self pity rallying up inside her, she allows her vanity to go un-checked and frivolously spends her husbands hard earned money. She immediately realizes her wrong doing, and feels atrocious when she witnesses the love and sadness in her husbands face when he discovers her lack of satisfaction. (Needless to say she sells the expensive fabric to Sally Moffat, her friend rich in money, but sadly lacking in love.) When her twins are born, months go by as she puts her husband aside to tend entirely to her babies. Eventually her mother tenderly and discretely steps in, and Meg learns yet another lesson for love. She makes adjustments and proves to John that he is needed and loved and wanted. Meg always tries her hardest to be the best woman, sister, daughter, wife, and mother, she can be. She makes plenty of mistakes, but she consistently strives to greater heights, to conquer her own self, and die to others.
Amy begins as a spoiled child and grows to be a dignified young woman. It’s when Beth is sick and Amy must stay at Great Aunt March’s when she begins to see the bigger picture in life. Her good, saintly sister is on her death bed, and Amy is heart-stricken as to what would happy if she died. She steps outside her own self, and longs to fill the void their family would have without good, gentle, pious Beth. Ultimately her sister is her inspiration, and she makes the conscious decision to grow in prayer and virtue. Her Catholic French maid sets up a little chapel for her (featuring a painting of the Blessed Mother!!), and she retires every day to pray while Aunt March takes her nap. She wishes to be a great artist someday, and drives herself to discipline and practise. She is popular with all of Laurie’s school mates, yet doesn’t allow this to play to her vanity. She goes abroad, and while there she learns about love, (looses her desire to marry rich), and aids Laurie in becoming a better man. She speaks her mind, yet knows when to bite her tongue. Without her, Laurie would not have become the man he does become – which is exactly right, for no man or woman is complete without their counter-part whom God has intended for them.
By the end of the book, both Meg and Amy have grown into beautiful women filled with love, consistently striving for virtue and loving others to the best of their ability.
p.s. Leave a comment on which is your favourite Little Women character, and why!