full title Little Women
author Louisa May Alcott
type of work Novel
genre Sentimental novel; didactic novel; coming-of-age novel
time and place written 1868–1869, Concord and Boston, Massachusetts
date of first publication 1868–1869
publisher Roberts Brothers
narrator Omniscient. The narrator knows everything and provides analysis and commentary about the characters and their lives.
point of view Third person. The narrator focuses on all the different characters in turn.
tone Sympathetic and matter-of-fact; sometimes moralizing
setting (time) During and after the Civil War, roughly 1861–1876
setting (place) A small New England town
protagonist Jo March
major conflict The March sisters struggle to improve their various flaws as they grow into adults. Jo dreams of becoming a great writer and does not want to become a conventional adult woman.
rising action The sisters begin to mature; they meet Laurie, their next-door neighbor; Meg gets married.
climax Jo turns down Laurie’s marriage proposal, confirming her independence.
falling action Beth dies, and Amy marries Laurie; Jo marries Professor Bhaer; Jo founds a school for boys and puts her writing career on hold.
themes Women’s struggle between familial duty and personal growth; the danger of gender stereotyping; the necessity of work; the importance of being genuine
motifs Music, teaching, language
symbols Umbrellas, burning
foreshadowing When Laurie presents the March sisters with a postbox, the narrator hints that love letters will pass through the box in years to come. Laurie’s promise to kiss Amy before she dies foreshadows their future marriage.