Thesis

A March of Complexities: Louisa May Alcott's Conflicted Response to Transcendentalism in Little Women

In my thesis, "A March of Complexities: Louisa May Alcott's Conflicted Response to Transcendentalism" in "Little Women", I explore Louisa May Alcott's both admiration for and frustration with her father Bronson Alcott's transcendentalism. I provide textual evidence that her response to this transcendentalism exists within her novel, "Little Women". I provide evidence from Louisa May Alcott's journals and letters to show that her public and private response to transcendentalism was consistently conflicted. I also examine Louisa May Alcott's feminism in depth and compare and contrast it with the feminism of Bronson Alcott and show how that comparison and familial tension informs both Louisa May Alcott's response to Bronson Alcott's philosophy and the text of "Little Women".
 Procedure:
 In addition to exploring "Little Women", and Louisa May Alcott's journals and letters, I have explored two of her other novels, "Moods", and "Work", and show how these novels, written both before and after "Little Women", show Louisa May Alcott to be a passionate supporter of women's rights. I show how her feminism was ignited by Bronson Alcott and also explore the ways in which Louisa Alcott critiques her father's unknowing adherence to nineteenth-century patriarchy. I examine the time the Alcotts spent in Fruitlands, the vegan spiritual community started by Bronson Alcott and the ways in which that experience informed her experience of transcendentalism and is present in the pages of "Little Women". I also provide the historical context of Bronson Alcott's place in transcendentalism, explore his pedagogy, and take a close look at his major work, Conversations with Children on the Gospels.
 Findings:
 During the course of my "Little Women" scholarship for this thesis I have made discoveries regarding why Louisa May Alcott chose the name of March for the family in "Little Women" that was so much like her own family. I have also discovered why Louisa May Alcott may have chosen to have the characters of Laurie and Amy marry. The two seem to have little in common and the match has puzzled readers throughout the years. I also made a discovery regarding why Louisa Alcott chooses to have Pip the pet bird die due to neglect. This tragedy is incongruous with the way that animals are adored throughout the text. Louisa Alcott's response to Bronson Alcott's transcendentalism inform all of these discoveries about the text of "Little Women".
 
 Conclusions:
 I conclude that Louisa May Alcott was both publicly and privately conflicted in her response to Bronson Alcott's transcendentalism and that that conflict informs the text of "Little Women" with a spirited tension that contributes to the novel's continued relevancy
 to readers.

In my thesis, "A March of Complexities: Louisa May Alcott's Conflicted Response to Transcendentalism" in "Little Women", I explore Louisa May Alcott's both admiration for and frustration with her father Bronson Alcott's transcendentalism. I provide textual evidence that her response to this transcendentalism exists within her novel, "Little Women". I provide evidence from Louisa May Alcott's journals and letters to show that her public and private response to transcendentalism was consistently conflicted. I also examine Louisa May Alcott's feminism in depth and compare and contrast it with the feminism of Bronson Alcott and show how that comparison and familial tension informs both Louisa May Alcott's response to Bronson Alcott's philosophy and the text of "Little Women". Procedure: In addition to exploring "Little Women", and Louisa May Alcott's journals and letters, I have explored two of her other novels, "Moods", and "Work", and show how these novels, written both before and after "Little Women", show Louisa May Alcott to be a passionate supporter of women's rights. I show how her feminism was ignited by Bronson Alcott and also explore the ways in which Louisa Alcott critiques her father's unknowing adherence to nineteenth-century patriarchy. I examine the time the Alcotts spent in Fruitlands, the vegan spiritual community started by Bronson Alcott and the ways in which that experience informed her experience of transcendentalism and is present in the pages of "Little Women". I also provide the historical context of Bronson Alcott's place in transcendentalism, explore his pedagogy, and take a close look at his major work, Conversations with Children on the Gospels. Findings: During the course of my "Little Women" scholarship for this thesis I have made discoveries regarding why Louisa May Alcott chose the name of March for the family in "Little Women" that was so much like her own family. I have also discovered why Louisa May Alcott may have chosen to have the characters of Laurie and Amy marry. The two seem to have little in common and the match has puzzled readers throughout the years. I also made a discovery regarding why Louisa Alcott chooses to have Pip the pet bird die due to neglect. This tragedy is incongruous with the way that animals are adored throughout the text. Louisa Alcott's response to Bronson Alcott's transcendentalism inform all of these discoveries about the text of "Little Women". Conclusions: I conclude that Louisa May Alcott was both publicly and privately conflicted in her response to Bronson Alcott's transcendentalism and that that conflict informs the text of "Little Women" with a spirited tension that contributes to the novel's continued relevancy to readers.

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