Why We All Want To Be Jo March - Born of Wonder (2023)

Interview any female writer and chances are she'll mention Jo March. Everyone from Nora Ephron to J.K. Rowling to Susan Sontag to Simone de Beauvoir claimed the studious, fearless heroine of Louisa May Alcott's 150-year-old classic,little woman, as personal inspiration. They cite Jo's literary prowess, independence, adventurous spirit and rebellious nature as having a profound impact on their impressionable young minds.

1“My favorite literary heroine is Jo March. It's hard to overstate what that meant to a simple little girl named Jo, who had a quick temper and a burning ambition to be a writer."½

I suspect many of these women are the same women who love Elizabeth Bennet. Both Lizzie and Jo are brash, witty, literary, and not afraid to stand up to the men in their lives. Both resist the status quo, constantly seeking authenticity in a world of superficiality. Yet Jo, even more than Elizabeth, touches something deep in many young women's souls.

I can't remember my first encounter with the March family, but I also can't remember a time when I didn't know them. I must have hadlittle womanread to me, probably from my grandmother, the person in my family who introduced me to so many beautiful fictional worlds. My grandmother's favorite, however, was Maud Hart Lovelace.Betsy Tracyseries, and it was the adventures of these girls (along with Tib, a later addition to the series), rather than the March sisters, that dominated my childhood imagination.

1"I like adventures, and I'll find some."½

when i rediscoveredlittle womanas an adult, I was captivated.I loved Jo's courage, honesty and big heart. Of course, like all bookish souls, I also identified with her penchant for writing and her thirst for adventure. (I predict these Jo-Lizzie compatriots of mine also claim that Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” is their favorite Disney character. I distinctly remember singing under my breath, “I want big space adventures somewhere…” while daydreaming many times late night ).

The feminist angle - a daring young woman resisting traditional roles and making her way into a man's world - is Jo's obvious modern appeal. I'll admit, I'm concerned that the latest adaptation, due out in December 2019, will focus too much on that aspect of the story at the expense of the deeper elements of Jo's character.

(Don't worry, I'll still be first in line on Christmas Day and spare myself any judgment until after I see the movie. Based on the trailer, it looks like they include the important scene with Jo and Beth at the beach, which is almost always cut in movie adaptations, so that's exciting. Not surprisingly, director Greta Gerwig also cites Jo as her personal hero. I remain optimistic!)

**Update: I saw it, LOVED it. read my reviewon here.

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These "deeper elements" of Jo's character are evident at several pivotal moments inlittle woman,but I will focus on two instances. Probably the most famous scene (besides the controversial rejection of Laurie by Jo), is when Jo cuts her hair and sells it for twenty-five dollars. A telegram has arrived with news that shocks the March family: Mr. March, who fights in the Civil War, was seriously wounded. Mrs. March (Marmie) must catch a train immediately to be by her side. Jo escapes during the general chaos and sells her hair.

"Your only beauty!" the dramatic and vain Amy cries when Jo removes her hat. Jo ignores her worry and shock. After all, it's just hair and it will grow back. We as readers are all in awe of this self-sacrificing gesture and Jo's apparent detachment from her looks.However, we quickly realize that Jo isn't as confident as she seems.That night, her sister Meg hears her crying and assumes that she is crying out of concern for her sick father. The truth is, Jo is mourning the loss of her shiny mane after all.

My… my hair! exploded Jo, trying in vain to smother her emotion into the pillow. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷

"I'm not sorry," Jo protested, in a chokehold. “I would do it again tomorrow if I could. It's just the vain, selfish part of me that cries like that silly."

Why We All Want To Be Jo March - Born of Wonder (1)

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Self-confident, resourceful and daring on the outside, Jo March is actually a very sensitive soul.

Here is a heroinewho is not perfectIn fact, Jo is incredibly flawed.She is often selfish and reckless. Jo chastises her more traditionally minded sister, Meg, for falling in love with the young tutor, John Brooke, and for wanting to "give up" on the family. For all her talk of great adventures, Jo really doesn't want much to change in her life. She loves having all her sisters home with her and is annoyed that Meg wants to have a family life of her own. When Meg's engagement is announced, Jo can barely make it to dinner because she is so upset.

When petulant Amy burns Jo's manuscript, Jo vows never to speak to her sister again. While anger at her is certainly understandable, the force of Jo's hatred is intense. Her mother warns her not to let a passing moment spoil her relationship with Amy, but Jo is heartbroken. Finally, Amy, distraught and filled with regret, almost drowns under the ice when she tries to keep up with Jo and Laurie. Fortunately, Amy survives and Jo is spared the regret of disowning a sister for a momentary lapse in judgment.

And while no one in the family can blame the angelic Beth, Jo must finally realize that her grief over her ailing sister's illness and impending death has far more to do with her own anguish than her sister's well-being. She must also realize that no matter how much money she makes from her stories and how many seaside spa vacations she can afford, Beth is still going to die.Jo's need to control situations and people often suppresses her ability to fully love them.

And even in her moments of selfless heroism (like getting a haircut), Jo is often a lot more scared and conflicted than she lets on.

However, it is in these moments that our worship is most deserved.Here is a young woman plagued by so many recognizable flaws - selfishness, selfishness, need for control - and yet she valiantly fights against the darkest parts of her own nature, insisting on creating a life with meaning, purpose and authenticity.

1“I want to do something splendid before I enter my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I die. I don't know what, but I'm watching and I intend to surprise you one day.½

The second example of profound importance in Jo's character development is the initial criticism she receives from Professor Bhaer and his reaction to it. Having moved to New York to trythe bohemian lifeJo has been typing furiously. He has made new friends and is enjoying earning a good amount of money from his writing. She has sold high drama stories involving swooning women, monsters, vampires and thrilling duels. However, during a German lesson with her new friend Professor Bhaer, she finds out what he thinks of stories like hers. He fires a local newspaper for publishing tabloid bullshit and actually accuses these writers of moral delinquency, filling young people's heads with nonsense. Jo is deeply hurt. The teacher sees her blush and notices her misstep.

Most modern readers hate this scene. They see the professor as an old fool trying to put Jo, a forward-thinking young woman, in his place. But while I can enjoy a good gothic romance now and then,I understand the teacher's point. He knows that Jo is an extremely intelligent and capable woman. He knows she can do better.

Although Jo's initial reaction to the teacher's comments is one of shock, anger and bitterness, she is finally able to read her own work with new eyes.She realizes that while she may be paying the bills, she is not progressing as a writer.He knows he is capable of making deeper and truer works of art.Jo always strives to do better and ultimately appreciates the people in her life who challenge her.

I won't try to get into the Laurie vs. Professor Bhaer debate here (suffice it to say I'm on Team Bhaer), but the important point here is that Jo is a woman who needs honest and challenging people in her life. 🇧🇷I think many women, especially women writers, recognize this need for authentic mentors. Jo didn't need someone to pat her on the back and tell her she did a good job; he needed someone to give him an honest review.

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1"Above all, be the hero of your life, not the victim."½

So while many readers can relate to Jo March's ambition and drive, it is ultimately her kindness, tenacity, and selfless nature that make Jo March such an enduring literary figure.Jo's heroism is of the normal kind. She may dream of dueling in foreign lands, but ultimately, her biggest battles are against the all-too-common evils of anger, selfishness, and fear. I'd say it's this courageous battle in the realm of the mundane that makes Jo March everyone's favorite heroine.

And when Jo and Professor Bhaer finally realize their love for each other, he is deeply moved:

"Ah! You give me so much hope and courage, and I have nothing to repay you but a full heart and these empty hands," exclaimed the professor, completely moved.

Jo would never, ever learn to be right, for when he said that as they walked up the steps, she simply placed both her hands in his, whispering tenderly, "It's not empty now," and bending over, she kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella. 🇧🇷

Why We All Want To Be Jo March - Born of Wonder (2)

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How we love Jo in this scene! Delightful audacity of hers, for she would "never learn to be right", and her insistence that all of life's burdens can be redeemed with open hands and hearts. While Louisa May Alcott intended for Jo to end up single (like Alcott herself), I don't think this scene diminishes Jo's strength or independence. Even if Jo ended up being a successful single writer, her character development would still depend on the love she was willing to give and receive.Jo's vulnerability is part of what makes her brave.

Jo teaches us that our words have meaning. The stories we tell and the stories we livematter🇧🇷 With each adaptationlittle womannew audiences are rediscovering the endless allure of a woman's quest for greatness. Jo gives us permission to pursue true art and true love in a world that is often opposed to both.

We all want to be Jo March because in many ways, most important ways, we already are.

1"I like good, strong words that mean something."½

Why We All Want To Be Jo March - Born of Wonder (3)

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Why does Jo March want to be a boy? ›

As she aspires to make her own name as a writer, she constantly wishes that she could be a man so she can enlist in the war, not worry about finding a husband, and not fuss over “girly” things like frilly dresses and extravagant balls — unlike her sisters Meg and Amy.

What does Jo March symbolize? ›

At a time when women's lives were restricted to hearth and home, Jo represented the possibility of another kind of life. "Jo always makes you think anything is possible and anything is possible for a woman," says Silvey.

What does Jo March teach us? ›

Jo March gives us a picture of what strong femininity means. She is independent, yet maintains close ties with her family. She pursues her dreams and develops her talents, eventually learning that it is best to be true to who she is instead of who the world would like her to be.

Why is Jo March a good character? ›

Jo March is a dazzling and original invention: bold, outspoken, brave, daring, loyal, cranky, principled, and real. She is a dreamer and a scribbler, happiest at her woodsy hideout by an old cartwheel or holed up in the attic, absorbed in reading or writing, filling page after page with stories or plays.

Who was Jo's favorite sister? ›

Jo's story dominates Little Women. But each of her sisters play a crucial role in the narrative. Meg, the oldest, is Jo's confidante. Shy, sensitive Beth is the most beloved.

What personality type is Jo March? ›

Enfp: Jo March, little Women

Energetic, optimistic and creative, Jo has a vivid imagination and thrives on entertaining others and dreaming about the future. Her enthusiasm and high expectations often lead to frustration and disappointment, though, when they inevitably clash with reality.

What is Jo March's flaw? ›

Her "fatal flaw" was her temper, which could be exceptionally bad and volatile when provoked to her breaking point, but as her guidance under her mother's wise teachings as well her own life experiences progressed, Jo learned how to properly control it.

What is Jo March best quotes? ›

Jo March Quotes

I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen. “I'm happy as I am, and love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man.” I like good strong words that mean something. Don't try to make me grow up before my time.

Who did Jo March end up with? ›

In Alcott's book, Jo March spends much of the pages talking about how she never wants to marry or have children. At the end of the story, however, Jo eventually marries her boarding housemate Professor Bhaer and has children.

What is Jo's special talent? ›

And also like Alcott, Jo is most successful as a writer when she produces sentimental works about everyday domestic life.

How do you become a Jo March? ›

12 Things To Do If You Want To Be Jo March
  1. Learn to love russets. ...
  2. Use slang à la Jo. ...
  3. Grow your hair extremely long. ...
  4. Dye your hair brown if it's not already. ...
  5. Cut it off, sell it, and give the money to your mother for medical bills.

Why did Jo sell her hair? ›

Jo sold her hair as a heroic gesture because she was too proud to beg Aunt March for money. In real life, Alcott lost her precious three and a half feet of brown hair helplessly.

How is Jo March a tomboy? ›

The most common interpretation of the masculine Jo March is that she is a tomboy who behaves masculinity to escape the expectations and confinement of womanhood.

Who is the prettiest March sister? ›

Meg, short for Margaret, is the oldest and (until Amy grows up) the prettiest of the four March sisters. She's also the most typical of the sisters – we think of her as everything that you might expect a nineteenth-century American girl from a good family to be.

Why is Jo so mean to Amy? ›

Jo and Amy develop a harsh rivalry that drives the plot of “Little Women.” They are alike in their passion but hold different values: Jo, the writer, would willingly cut off her long hair, her “only beauty,” to help provide for her family without much concern for vanity, while Amy, the artist, shamelessly celebrates ...

Why did Aunt March take Amy instead of Jo? ›

For a while, Jo works as Aunt March's companion, reading to her and taking care of her spoiled little dog. Aunt March is fussy and particular and extremely irritating to Jo. After Beth catches scarlet fever, Aunt March is forced to take in young Amy, who needs to be quarantined.

How old is Beth when she dies? ›

Beth's dying had a strong impact on her sisters, especially Jo, who resolved to live her life with more consideration and care for others. Beth was twenty-three years old at the time of her death.

Who is the youngest March sister? ›

Amy March, the youngest of the “Little Women,” has historically been the least liked of the four. Louisa May Alcott's 1868 coming-of-age novel positions her as a foil to her older sister Jo, the author's semi-autobiographical stand-in, and by contrast emphasizes Amy's youthful selfishness and materialism.

Is Jo March a feminist? ›

Jo March is a feminist icon. But, while her feminism may not resemble that of the modern day, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women offers a thoughtful inspection of the female struggle to re- define womanhood and gain financial indepen- dence in a world of men.

Is Jo March a tomboy? ›

The main character of Little Women, Jo is an outspoken tomboy with a passion for writing. Her character is based in large part on Louisa May Alcott herself. Jo refuses Laurie's offer of marriage, despite the fact that everyone assumes they will end up together.

Who was the best Jo March? ›

'Little Women' (1933)

Without a doubt, Katherine Hepburn is film's greatest Jo March. Hepburn plays her with playful, temperamental boyishness and delivers every New England-accented line like the crack of a whip.

What is Jo March full name? ›

Josephine "Jo" March

Second oldest of the four sisters, Jo is boy-like, the smartest, most creative one in the family; her father has referred to her as his "son Jo," and her best friend and neighbour, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence, sometimes calls her "my dear fellow," while she alone calls him Teddy.

Who is Jo in love with? ›

The best example of why Jo rejected Laurie´s proposal and why she did fell in love with Friedrich is to examine the two proposals. When Laurie proposes to Jo he says he loves her because Jo has always been so good to him.

Does Laurie love Jo in the book? ›

Jo Has Been Laurie's Romantic Interest for Years

In all film versions and the book, Laurie basically tells Jo that he's been in love with her for a long time. His affection for her didn't occur suddenly; it manifested throughout their friendship. Because he's enamored with her, he becomes enamored with her family.

What accent does Jo March have? ›

Saoirse Ronan, who portrays Jo March in "Little Women," has a rich, thick, glorious Irish accent.

Why did Amy burn Jo's book? ›

In the novel, Amy burns a manuscript by Jo—“the loving work of several years,” as Alcott put it—in retaliation for Jo's dismissive behavior toward her earlier that night. (The elder sister had impatiently fended off a crying Amy when Amy had wanted to accompany her to the theater.)

Does Jo marry Friedrich in the book? ›

The end of Little Women sees its heroine, tomboyish and ambitious Jo, married off to the pointedly unromantic Friedrich Bhaer, a middle-aged and unattractive German professor who disapproves of the sensational stories she writes.

What is the age difference between Amy and Laurie? ›

I know the age difference between Amy and Laurie is only three or four years, but their love and marriage would seem more normal to me if Laurie was ten years older yet they simply hadn't had much interaction when Amy was a kid.

How much older is the professor than Jo? ›

Stanley, an actor best known as one of the Night's Watch from “Game of Thrones,” is younger in age than Bhaers past. That means the age gap between him and Jo is smaller, only about 10 or so years, versus the 20-plus-year gap in previous versions.

What does Billie Jo look like? ›

Billie Jo Kelby is the strong and courageous protagonist, or main character, of the novel. She is 14 years old when the story begins, tall and slender, with red hair and freckles, and she loves apples. She is a dynamic character. Her experiences and actions cause her to change during the novel.

How old is Jo March in the movie? ›

June Allyson was nearly 31 when she played 15-year-old Jo March, although her character is meant to be close to 25 by the time of the events that close this movie.

Does Jo have depression? ›

Last season ended with Jo checking into Grey Sloan's psychiatric unit to treat her depression following the revelation that she was the product of rape.

Does Jo have get pregnant? ›

Jo's mother, Vicki Ann Rudin (Michelle Forbes), reveals Dr. Wilson-Karev was conceived during a rape. Jo informs her mom she was in an abusive marriage, which viewers are already painfully aware of. Then, Jo drops what may be the final major secret of her past: She had an abortion.

What was the secret of Jo disclosed to Laurie? ›

Laurie tells Jo that he has a secret, and that he'll tell her his secret if she tells him his. After some coaxing, Jo reveals that she's submitted two stories to the local newspaper. Laurie, in turn, reveals that he knows the whereabouts of Meg's missing glove. Jo is quite displeased when he tells her where it is.

How is Meg different from Jo? ›

Meg is proper and ladylike, yearns after wealth and beautiful clothes, and has a sweet, romantic nature. By contrast, Jo is awkward and tomboyish, doesn't care about money or clothes at all, and gets herself into all kinds of trouble because she's so blunt.

Who did Jo March married? ›

At the end of Little Women, Jo doesn't marry Laurie, her childhood friend. Instead, she marries Friedrich Bhaer, an older German professor she meets while living in New York. However, Jo and Professor Bhaer's “happily ever after” is sealed quite cinematically: With a kiss, in the rain, under an umbrella.

What ring did Jo give Laurie? ›

As seen in Greta Gerwig's Academy Award-winning adaptation of Little Women, discover the exact ring Jessica designed for the scene with Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and Laurie (Timothée Chalamet). Crafted from a 19th Century Victorian seal, the ring is available as a limited edition of 25.

Why does Jo cut her hair? ›

Jo even cuts off her hair, erasing her own femininity, in order to fulfill the stereotypically male role of providing money for the family.

Why did Jo marry in the end? ›

In short, Alcott needed to marry Jo off to complete her transition from “little woman” to “good wife,” and satisfy the era's narrative expectations.

How do I live like Jo March? ›

12 Things To Do If You Want To Be Jo March
  1. Learn to love russets. ...
  2. Use slang à la Jo. ...
  3. Grow your hair extremely long. ...
  4. Dye your hair brown if it's not already. ...
  5. Cut it off, sell it, and give the money to your mother for medical bills.
Jul 9, 2016

Did Jo have feelings Laurie? ›

In the books, Jo never likes Laurie romantically and his romantic interest only makes Jo feel uncomfortable. Not only does their dynamics change because Jo doesn´t want to fit into the traditional female role of the time but because Laurie fits into the traditional 19th-century male role almost too well.

Where did Laurie think that Jo had gone? ›

Laurie assumes that Jo has had some teeth removed and thus needs help getting home. It is also implied that Jo, being a woman, needs a man to “save” her. Laurie tells Jo that he has a secret, and that he'll tell her his secret if she tells him his.

Did Jo become a writer? ›

Jo did become a writer, and a rather rich and famous one at that. But we have to wait until the next sequel, Jo's Boys, to find that out. Louisa didn't do the best job of explaining just how a 19th-century wife, mother, and school-overseer would have woven a writing career in with all her other duties.

Why did Amy marry Laurie? ›

Laurie ended up with Amy because Alcott decided to make Amy Laurie's romantic partner. It could've been the way that Alcott, often a writer of more scandalous stories, wanted to bring in a little scandal to this otherwise moral story.

Does Laurie ask Jo to marry him? ›

Laurie asks Jo to marry him so that they don't disappoint his grandfather, who really wants them to get together. Jo continues to refuse – she can't give Laurie a genuine "yes," so she won't give him any kind of yes.

Why did Jo turn down Laurie? ›

It is therefore extremely significant that Jo rejects Laurie despite the fact that he is handsome, kind, loving, and rich, and that she rejects him for no other reason than that she does not love him as she wants to love a husband. Alcott depicts this decision as admirable.


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