Wrapping up Little Women Part One – Amy and Laurie

I finished reading Little Women last week and will comment on that in the last post that I do on this book. But first, I wanted to address how Louisa brought about the pairing of Amy and Laurie.

I wish that I had not known that Amy married Laurie because I could never feel the obvious disappointment that readers felt when Jo turned Laurie down. In her usual, logical fashion, Louisa laid out the case for why Amy was the best match for Laurie and I bought into it.

It always appeared to me that Jo and Laurie had a brother-sister relationship, and that it seemed unnatural to Jo to feel any differently for him. I’m not so sure that she was running away from a more passionate relationship – she may not have been capable of such a relationship. Her pairing with Professor Bhaer felt very right to me – they seemed to be soul mates intellectually and emotionally, and he brought out the best in her, at least to her way of thinking. She wanted to be more like Beth and he enabled that.

Laurie tapped into the more rebellious and volatile side of Jo and while fans may have applauded that, Jo would not have ( at least as I see her character).

Amy, on the other hand, seemed like a perfect match for Laurie. He wanted to be improved and she did that, bringing out the best in him. She was able to challenge him out of his doldrums without causing a huge fight (which I think would have happened had Jo challenged him like that). They shared similar sensibilities and desires. I found their courtship to be very charming and loved hearing descriptions of Amy’s deftness in getting Laurie to do what she wanted.

Laurie ended up then bringing out the best in Amy, tapping into her generous nature. She had begun to mature, realizing that wealth alone was not enough. She needed true love, and she needed something philanthropic to do in her life. Laurie made that possible, not just through his wealth, but through his nature.

Passion makes for a great read but doesn’t always make for a lasting relationship. While it was highly disappointing to many that Laurie and Jo did not end up together, I felt that Louisa’s treatment of both relationships showed maturity. Yes, it’s true that she avoided such commitment in her own life but I’m glad she was able to realize it at least in her characters.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one – what do you think? Even if you knew already that Amy and Laurie were married, were you still as disappointed?

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41 Replies to “Wrapping up Little Women Part One – Amy and Laurie”

  1. I didn’t know who Jo married until I read the book. And since then I have always been disappointed.

    Amy once again got what she wanted. She wanted the rich man. She always wanted to be wealthy. She got it. Laurie brought nothing out in Amy, in my opinion, but her dreams. Her dreams were to marry someone safe, someone she knew and someone who was rich.

    Alcott couldn’t get away with Jo being a spinster so she had to throw some radical suitor in for her. While I understand he may have been smart, and caring and all that, did he really have to be twenty years older? Creepy.

    I never liked the ending of Little Women. I struggled through Little Men and had a lukewarm response to Jo’s Boys. However, I find the ending to Rose in Bloom more to my liking and there are times I find myself enjoying Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom more than Little Women. At least Alcott got that one right

  2. A fascinating post, thanks.

    I was shocked by and very disappointed in the match of Laurie and Amy, way back in 1972 when I first read LITTLE WOMEN at 13. I identified with Jo and wanted her to be happy with her wild, moody boy. As a romantic adolescent, to me Professor Bhaer was dull potatoes.

    However as I’ve reread the book many times as an adult I’ve always agreed with your post. In my view the relationships are completely logical and I am only sorry that Louisa never had her own Fritz.

  3. I read Little Women before I knew much about their creator. As I recall, I felt sorry for Laurie, but to me there was no disappointment. I could understand why Jo couldn’t love Laurie as a woman loves her husband and why she could love Prof.Bhaer.

    I’m not a writer and I can’t relate to Jo and Alcott in that way. Some people say Prof.Bhaer was good for her writng, for he pushed her to give up pulp fiction, others say Laurie adored her writing as it was and that meant he was better for her for he never asked her to give up anything.

    When it comes to choosing a husband, I think that the most important thing is to choose someone with whom you can be yourself. Here, I don’t think about Jo’s writing, I think about her as a person.

    There is a saying in Bosnia, which when translated literaly goes “The one with his stomach full doesn’t believe that another in hungry.” I always remember Marie Antoinette on the brink on French Revolution, when she couldn’t understand that her people were starving. When they told her that the crowd was hungry because they didn’t have any bread and she replied “Let them eat cake.” 🙂

    In life, there is that line between groups of people, inevitable and as real as there is a line between people who passed away and people who hasn’t yet. Those who passed know something we don’t. People who lost someone they loved know something that is still unknown to those who haven’t experienced that yet. And I could go on with this; there’s a line between people who are married and those who are not, and those who are in a relationship and those who are single, and those who experienced true love and those who never fell in love, and people who suffer from some disease or live with some disability and healthy people who”don’t even know that they have body.”I guess that’s why people are organizing themselves in supporting groups, they seek support from those who have experienced the same kind of thing, so that they would “believe that he or she truly is hungry.” 🙂 And I think that Louisa’s childhood and youth spent in poverty, hunger and feeling that she wasn’t good enough (to her father’s high expectations) marked her for life.

    I think that a rich man who never knew how that really felt, no matter how sweet and loving and adoring, as Laurie truly was, could not be as good match for Jo as a mature self-made man, who knew, experiencing on his own skin, what was hunger and poverty and how it felt to be treated as unequal.
    Now, when I read Harriet Raisen’s LMA:TWBLW I know what she meant when she wrote that Louisa’s heroines that were like herself were at ease only with men who were disadvantaged in some way. And Jo is one of her semiautobiographical heriones. Jo had to have a fellow sufferer of the same “disease” to feel herself. Someone who was dealing with their “condition” in the same way – being proud and working hard and taking care of the other family members.

    Pairing Jo and Prof.Bhaer and Amy and Laurie is natural to me. Louisa paired together people of the same “supporting groups.”
    And age, hmmm, why Prof. Bhaer is in his early 40s when Jo was in her mid 20s. Don’t know, maybe because Louisa’s teen crush on Emerson. Anyways, I find Prof.Bhaer an attractive man.

    I’m reading Eight Cousins now. It is different from Little Women. I can’t see Louisa in Rose, but I can see Bronson’s educational methods in the way her Uncle Alec manages her, insisting on her phisical execise, not letting her wear corsets and high heels, encouraging her to learn by seeing things herself, thinkig for herself and asking questions, instead of simply memorizing… It’s interesting reading, though I do know that Rose will marry her cousin Mac, but I wonder what kind of people will young cousins grow into and what will become of Rose’s maid Phebe, how will she deal with her disadventages.

  4. I didn’t like the ending either but I’ll leave that to my last post about Little Women. 🙂

    I see something more in Amy than just her desire to be wealthy. I think she truly wanted to be virtuous. There were strong hints of that in Chapter 30, “Consequences” (see my post https://louisamayalcottismypassion.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/amy-wins-the-day-and-jo-pays-the-price/).

    While Jo was the big-hearted one and performed big-hearted acts (a perfect example being her devoted nursing of Beth), Amy performed little acts, often unseen acts. Small and unseen acts are often just as virtuous as the big-hearted ones. Saints such as St. Therese of Lisieux made it possible for average people to aspire to be saints through small, unseen acts of kindness (and Mother Teresa based her spirituality on St. Therese, remarking, “do small things with great love.”) While I don’t see Amy as a saint by any means, I do see her as working out her salvation one little act at a time.

    I admire the fact that she had the guts to call Laurie out of his apathy. The use of such strong language (“I despise you!”) was very risky but it did the job. She helped Laurie find his better self again. If she were just a two dimensional vain and selfish girl (as she is often portrayed in commentaries), she never would have bothered to take the chance.

    Amy admitted that she wanted to marry rich and felt it to be her right. But her growing fondness for Laurie was causing a change of heart. In Chapter 41 we read, “The words, “Fred is a good fellow, but not at all the man I fancied you would ever like,” and Laurie’s face when he uttered them, kept returning to her as pertinaciously as her own did when she said in look, if not in words, ‘I shall marry for money.’ It troubled her to remember that now, she wished she could take it back, it sounded so unwomanly. She didn’t want Laurie to think her a heartless, worldly creature. She didn’t care to be a queen of society now half so much as she did to be a lovable woman.” I thought this showed a growth in her of character. Laurie was drawing the best out of her.

    And the change did not go unnoticed either. In chapter 43 we read, “For Amy’s face was full of the soft brightness which betokens a peaceful heart, her voice had a new tenderness in it, and the cool, prim carriage was changed to a gentle dignity, both womanly and winning. No little affectations marred it, and the cordial sweetness of her manner was more charming than the new beauty or the old grace, for it stamped her at once with the unmistakable sign of the true gentlewoman she had hoped to become.

    ‘Love has done much for our little girl,’ said her mother softly.”

    And we read in chapter 45 about the good works Laurie and Amy wanted to perform as a married couple.

    I still think they were a good match and I think Amy gets a bit shafted when she’s just held up as a vain, selfish girl. I have to admit, after having immersed myself in her real life alter ego that I am biased in this regard because I became very fond of May.

  5. p.s. for fun I reread the first chapter of Martha Saxton’s bio (the first adult bio I read on Louisa) and she uses that chapter to write her own analysis of Little Women and Louisa’s motivations. Saxton’s bio is really interesting (and reminded me of why Louisa captivated me as a young adult, more on that at another time) but annoying too because of all the endless psychoanalysis. I thought her treatment was really heavy handed but it’s definitely an interesting read!

  6. It’s been a few years since I last read it. However I didn’t like Saxton’s biography not just for the endless feminist analysis (very much of its period, the 1970s) but for her rabid partisanship. Saxton’s feelings about the various people she was writing about were so blatant that I ended up disliking/distrusting Saxton herself. In my view, a good biography should help you understand the humanity in everyone, no matter how flawed. Yes, Bronson Alcott was difficult, maybe impossible, but why was he that way? etc. I was far too aware of Saxton’s rage all the way through the book. As someone who loves biography, I thought it was unprofessional and ultimately told me much more about Saxton than about Louisa.

    I also questioned Saxton’s scholarship. Biographers who are bent on building a “case” can cherry-pick source material and quotes to manipulate a story in any direction. Because I didn’t trust Saxton’s objectivity, judiciousness, or empathy, in the end I didn’t trust her information.

    1. After reading Saxton’s book, I felt like Louisa never knew a happy day in her life! Madeleine Stern’s book was far more balanced and really got me into Louisa’s head. Still my overall favorite.

      p.s. really enjoying Susan Cheever’s book. It helped a lot to hear her speak first because I better understood her point of view although the preface of the book had already drawn me in when I read it quickly one day at Barnes and Noble.

  7. I completely agree about Louisa never knowing a happy day under Saxton. I will have to read Madeleine Stern. Thanks — I’m enjoying your blog!

    1. Thank you! Try Harriet Reisen’s book as well, excellent bio.

      I have to say though that Saxton’s book reminded me of why I was so attracted to Louisa in my mid 20s when I read her book. It was the first adult bio I had read.

  8. Laurie tapped into the more rebellious and volatile side of Jo and while fans may have applauded that, Jo would not have ( at least as I see her character).

    I think this is excellent insight.

    I agree with you about passion not lasting forever. I wasn’t even slightly disappointed about Laurie/Jo/Amy. It’s one of my favorite parts of the story. Lots of triangle intrigue to be had in that storyline! And also, come on. Laurie was essentially Jo’s brother. It would have been creepy if they had married, unless somehow they’re relationship changed EXTENSIVELY.

    At least with Amy and Laurie, he was always the ‘older man.’ They were never bickering contemporaries, like Jo and Laurie.

    You’re so right, about Amy, Laurie and Friedrich bringing out the best in their partners. It’s just beautiful, I think.

    Laurie and Jo brought out the fight in each other. They were better siblings than spouses.

  9. I’ve loved Amy’s character from the beginning, i guess it is because she was the only one i was interested in seeing mature and change. she is flawed and but her core is pure and generous which makes her three dimensional and real. the combinations of her character fascinated me. her struggle to find herself. And as she grew up and matured one by one her selfish desired lost the battle to her true generous self.
    I thought that Laurie and Amy made a perfect couple. couldn’t help but feel that they were the only pair that were truly equal both intellectually and even physically while also being compatible, she knew how to absorb his feelings and guide him through his troubles so absolutely agree that she was able to bring out the best in him and so did he.
    I think Amy needed to love somebody genuinely to understand once and for all that life is more than class and money, that it is love that makes us happy and i remember that in chapter 45 she tells Laurie that she would have married him even if he was poor! that proves that she is honest in her feelings.

    As for Amy always getting what she wants, i think that comes from her decisiveness, she is a cut throat woman who goes after what she wants and she has the brains and instincts to make the right decisions. she is more worldly than any of her sisters. Amy is a woman who was more naturally in sync with her world, she didn’t struggle the way Jo did to find herself and i believe that is why she got what she wanted easily.

    i can’t say that she was traditional because i can see the revolutionist in her but yet again it is the contradictions i admire in her.

    1. Spot on! Great analysis. Glad to meet another Amy fan! Amy’s real life counterpart, May Alcott Nieriker was a breath of fresh air, the only one of the daughters to come out unscathed from Bronson’s various life experiments. She was a free spirit and knew exactly what she wanted. She was gracious like Amy, and thoughtful. I wish more had been written about her but there’s only a couple of books (May Alcott A Memoir by Caroline Ticknor and Little Women Abroad edited by Daniel Shealy).

  10. Hi! I now it’s been a long time but i just find this blog by accident and I really need to say something because it’s the first time I found a nice and genius point of view about Amy March. I was like 9 years old when my mom gave me Little Women for Christmas. To be honest I’m not the most romantic person you could found but in the pages of Little Women I found my first clear feeling about the whole concept of love in every single way. And I have to say that I’ve always understand Amy a whole lot more than the others. For me Amy is the most real character in there, I mean Jo is amazing, she’s strong, smart and she has a huge heart but Amy is portrayed since page one with a lot of flaws. I think that’s why everyone finds Amy so vain and selfish but it’s because they don’t get her story as it is. She is the one that grows the most among the story, Amy is always honest about what she wants: to be a lady or so, but that dream changes a lot through the book and for better. When she explains to Jo what means to be a lady for her I think more people should understand the great among of will and maturity that takes.
    Then in Europe there are a lot of moments when we get to see how true and unselfish Amy can be. It’s like she has know so much and really think about it that she finally realizes where she was failing all those years.
    I’m 21 now and I think I understand way more than back at that christmas when I read Little Women for the first time, but my feelings about Amy hasn’t change, if anything I like more. I’m studying graphic design and Amy’s words are always in my mind when I’m working: ‘That’s just why, because talent isn’t genius, and no amount of energy can make it so. I want to be great, or nothing. I won’t be a common-place dauber, so I don’t intend to try any more.’ She’s just so right about it. And I always admire the way she can let go of her lifetime dreams without giving up, she just gets the point, takes her talents and find a way to be useful and happy. And I’ve always wanted to be like that, And this few lines are my constant reminder to always give 200% in every project I start. I think Amy is as strong as Jo, in her own way and I’ve always wished for more people to see it.
    I guess a lot of that prejudice about Amy comes from movies, I mean there’s people like my own mother that never read the book, ever but they “know” the story because of movies but I mean, there’s hardly anything about Amy in there, it’s like we always get to see the spoiled and selfish little girl, then she goes to Europe and suddenly she’s back, married with Laurie, the guy we expect all movie that will become Jo’s Prince Charming. I mean, it’s unfair, that people is missing the most deep parts of Amy, the true herself and obviously can’t understand Amy and Laurie’s relationship. But I definitely agree with you people: Jo and Laurie are amazing as friends, but wouldn’t have been happy at all together, they’re both too strong but in the same way, like big explosive feelings while Amy somehow brings peace to Laurie’s stormy character. She’s as perfect for him as professor Bhaer for Jo, (even if he is old because who cares? if he makes her better and happy and love her?). I think Louisa explains perfectly why Amy and Laurie get along so well: The two never quarreled. Amy was too well-bred, and just now Laurie was too lazy, so in a minute he peeped
    under her hatbrim with an inquiring air. She answered him with a smile, and they went on together in the most amicable manner”. But the most important here is that it doesn’t prevent them from having a heart to heart a few moments later but it does allows them to understand that it’s nothing to me mad about but to take as what they both need to hear. You now, it’s usually hard to see our own mistakes.
    Just to be done, because I now I’ve talk a lot (can’t ever help it when I’m writing), I would like to point that professor Bhaer it’s like perfect for Jo in every single way, he made her a better writer but not because he made her change her style or anything but because he gave her enough courage to write about what she should, I think she was afraid to fail if she wrote about anything but the stuff that editors payed her for, he makes her a better Jo teacher/woman/friend/sister/writer. And that’s the way it should be, so age or money it doesn’t matter.
    And for Laurie, yes, Jo broke his heart but isn’t that life? Sometimes people needs a huge slap to see what’s right in front of them. And Laurie gets to grow up a lot since that really heartbreaking scene till the end, when he understands his true feelings: when Jo rejects him for second time in a letter he doesn’t feels hurt anymore but in peace. I’ve never doubt Laurie’s love for Amy, I mean, even before Jo and before Nice he says goodbye to Amy in a very caring way: ‘I will, dear, I will, and if anything happens, I’ll come and comfort you,’ whispered Laurie, little dreaming that he would be called upon to keep his word”. And well, he is a man man of word.
    P.S.: I hope anyone finds interesting something here and I’m sorry if grammar or some other stuff it’s wrong, it’s because I’m from Costa Rica and spanish it’s my first language, but i think I’ll make myself understand. Enjoy ans thanks for the chance.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response! Nice to see another Amy fan out there who sees more than just a spoiled, vain, selfish girl. The real life person she was based on, May Alcott, was a very interesting woman, quite modern for her day and I have a feeling, very likeable too.

  11. Decepcion total. La ambiciosa Amy logro conseguir sus superficiales sueños. No creo que Amy lo amase demasiado. No. Tampoco me hubiese gustado que se quedara con Jo, primeramente, porque su relacion era demasiado fraternal, y ademas de que hubiese sido un final demasiado obvio y nada emocionante

  12. At 10 when I first read the book I hated Amy. I’m still not fond of her and never liked Amy and Laurie together. I’m all for true meeting of the mind relationships but in Little Women, the romantic pairings just don’t work for me. I like Amy and Laurie a lot better in Jo’s Boys though.

    1. That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla. 🙂 I admit coming from a different perspective, having first immersed myself in Alcott’s life, long before I started reading her books.

  13. I actually really liked the Amy/Laurie romance in Little Women (I thought it was very poorly handled in the movie). It was very sweet and really showcased both characters and their growth as they discover their love for each other. This surprised me because I am such a Jo and Laurie fan and the chapter Heartache really just tore me apart. That being said, as soon as Amy and Laurie left Europe, I found their marriage to be as dull as dishwater. Their interactions after they are married – calling each other my lord and lady…and being the so called ideal married couple. YAWN. And their interactions are barely described in Little Men and Jo’s Boys and when they are, are quite lifeless. This of course, really convinced me that Jo and Laurie’s marriage (if it had been allowed to happen) could have been so much more interesting – sure they would have argued and fought, but it would have been full of life, love, and passion (and not just in the romantic sense).

    May Alcott’s own life was so much more interesting than Amy’s. Amy becomes a pretty wife and does a bit of art in her studio at home with her daughter Bess. Other than that, she’s just a society wife. May Alcott traveled to Europe by herself for art lessons (sponsored by Louisa), was a recognized artist and art teacher, and ended up marrying a swiss businessman 10 years younger! Certainly different from Amy March…

    1. Agreed, May was much more interesting and complex than Amy and now that you mention it, yeah, Amy and Laurie did seem rather dull. But then happiness doesn’t play well in writing – there’s no conflict to make it interesting.

  14. A bit late in the game here but I have to admit that as much as I identified with Jo, Amy was my favorite. Now, Jo and Laurie are soulmates but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should have been romantic with one another. When I think of romance and Little Women, I can’t think of Jo and Laurie being romantic with one another.

    Amy and Jo are a lot alike, they are romantic, ambitious in their own way and determined as well as being honest when they need to be. However, with Laurie I think that Amy knows how to wield her words. Remember when she told Laurie off in Europe for his ways? She was point on to Laurie (as he was to her) and I think that if it had been Jo who told him off…there would have been a huge fight.
    Amy does get the man with money that she wanted BUT she could have had the choice of Vaughn (who if I remember correctly had more money than the Laurie’s money) but she married Laurie because she truly loved him. I think that as Amy was brutally honest with him, he was to her and called her out on marrying a man just for money. I think Laurie knew Amy best.

    Jo and Laurie would have worked out..for a while but I keep thinking that their personalities would clash too much to have the marriage last. Jo wants independence and freedom that I think that Professor Bhaer encouraged because I think he admired it. Laurie, despite his boyish ways even into his maturity, was a part of society, did business with them and I think that Jo would have been stifled by this. She would have to pretend to be a society matron which is something that she has been proven to be out of sorts with. Jo could be a kind person but she isn’t as gracious as Amy was, even when people were rude to her (The Art Fair is a good example). Jo is blunt and would tell people where to go and this could make trouble for Laurie and could build some resentment later on.

    Also, when Laurie asked Jo to marry him…he was so darn brash and passionate that he showed little patience to Jo. You can state that he would bring passion out of Jo, but I think he did that with arguments more than anything else. She was more mature with him and just didn’t love him romantically as he wanted to be loved. She recognized this and I think this is a turning point for Jo. This is when she stops becoming a tomboy and takes that first step towards becoming a tender, independent and strong woman.She knew that a marriage meant bringing out the best of one another and at the time, Laurie wasn’t the best person to bring the best out of Jo. She needed a man with great maturity, intellect and humanity like the Professor. I think that the Professor fit in the March family perfectly.

  15. I went through your analysis then the comments and found my comment and was shocked that i had read this before. i totally forgot. but i just read the book again and read little men and jo’s boys as well and i have few things to say about Amy
    I was always a big fan of hers and always will be. and I as i grow up and gain a better understanding of the world, i find myself loving her more
    I’m just troubled by people being irrational when it comes to love. i truly believe that this is why divorce rates are skyrocketing… people think passion is enough but it is not, “love” as we may call it is not strong enough to last on its own… it needs nurturing and patience and two people who can see that and understand how the other person works and be able to deal with him/her. Jo couldn’t have done that for Laurie and neither could have Laurie for her. While Amy could and did. she was able to push him out of his funk and without even pushing him over the edge. that is a sign of compatibility. and that is why their marriage worked. as we see they are as happy as ever till the end of the franchise and yeah happy equals no conflict… but because i’m so behind this pairing i was happy with them especially that the two books weren’t about them… i felt a tribute was being made to this successful marriage anytime they appeared that is all. Their marriage worked because they saw eye to eye and were genuinely happy. they were able to nurture what they had and make it grow and they did become better people

    and i know i talked about she getting what she thought she wanted which was money. but truly what she got was a love connection that would last a life time through good and bad in richness or poorness. and i’ve mentioned “two years ago” that she tells him that she wishes he was poor so she could prove to him that money doesn’t matter to her anymore and that she rejected someone much richer than him because she didn’t love him… to explain the message as i get i’ll draw an example from the life of someone i know.
    she always wanted her own place and to move out and practice her independence and she was willing to sacrifice anything for it. unfortunately she got accepted in university in a city where she had family members to live with. it was the best uni. but she didn’t want to go. eventually she matured and realized that her education will and has to come first and it is more important than anything else. so she moved in with the family members and one year later they moved cause the dad had a job in another city and she got her place after all. So sometimes when we do the right thing and set out priorities straight and sacrifice the less important thing we have always really wanted then the universe or karma or god or whatever people believe in reward us by giving us all we wanted. and so Amy said no to Fred’s money and ended up going after Love and as a reward she did get money…
    one more thing. i’m tired of people linking social aspirations with evilness…. there is really nothing wrong with wanting to be a prominent figure in your society if your intentions are pure and hers were pure… she used her money to make a difference and that is very admirable since she didn’t self indulge in her new wealth as people who grew up having nothing to having a lot of thing might but she immediately decided to help others and especially girls like herself who have ambition but not the means to support them. so Good On You Amy!!!

    and a last note. Beth has been described as the god sent angel of a girl and needless to say i was heart broken when she dies. it is very interesting that the product of Laurie and Amy’s marriage was Bess. and let’s not waste time drawing parallels between her and her deceased aunt. so if Bess was kinda like Beth incarnated. it is as if saying the an angel was a product of this union. which really makes it a very blessed union… just something that i have noticed.

    1. Your comment about Bess is brilliant. It is a blessing on their marriage, a way for Louisa to reinforce to her audience that yes, this was the right thing for them to marry.

  16. I definitely do agree. I never really like the idea of Jo and Laurie ending up together because she was never really in love with him. And that really wouldn’t work in a marriage. It take two to tango. Plus many would say that Laurie was never in love with Amy. I disagree with that, mainly because Amy was always too young to think of as a partner. But as she grew up, he realized what a mature and beautiful lady she had become. He loved that and she (in my opinion) always loved him, even as child with a crush on him (again, my opinion).

    Now, the Professor, I loved him! I thought that Alcott wrote a great companion for Jo. They both brought the best out of eachother. He gave Jo that muse for her writing, something that she had always wanted. And, she loved him. She was truly IN love with him. Which made for a great relationship.

  17. Yes, over 1,000 years ago, having Bhaer as Jo’s choice appears to make sense, but somehow, it feels that in this era, where men are more comfortable and in touch with their feminine side, Bhaer is just an option because Jo was given the freedom by Bhaer to develop herself back then, and that is needed in order for Jo to survive her dream…
    An interesting observation on women these days are that they don’t require a marriage to be fully independent in the society, and the inner strength & confidence from women these days are quite different than that of when this book was written…
    If we have a modern day Jo, choosing an in between of Laurie and Bhaer will make more sense… or actually, choosing Laurie is a pretty reasonable choice too~ if, only love does develop toward Laurie from Jo…
    Laurie might have clashed with Jo at a younger age, but if they have enough love for one another to persist in marriage, I trust they can also have the wisdom to mature together because they are both smart and jolly in nature… possibly best if their marriage comes @ a later age too…

    1. It’s very hard to say whether Jo would have ended up with Laurie in a modern version of the book. We all loved Laurie and loved them together but it was true what Jo said about their temperaments. Professor Bhaer complemented Jo more and helped her be her true self (at least in Louisa’s mind).

  18. Catching up on some old posts! Great stuff… and good comments too by your readers.

    I for one think that had had Louisa written a book during the modern times, she would have put Jo and Laurie together. The marriages in Little Women were pretty traditional, and things like strong personalities and conflict were seen as automatically a negative, rather than something that could be worked through, and such personaltiies could lead to a marriage that was interesting, passionate, loving and fun.

    Louisa was never able to see what a truly egalitarian marriage of equals looked like, thus her preference for being an independent single woman. Seems she would have preferred Jo to remain single as well, but of course caved to her her publisher and her fans who demanded that Jo marry.

    My theory? Since Louisa seemed to have romantic feelings for Ladislas Wisniewski (who Laurie is largely based on), but her romance with him “couldn’t be” as she wrote in her diary, neither could Jo end up with Laurie. I think if it all had happened in modern times. Lousia would have had a nice romance with Laddie and Jo would have ended up with Laurie…Fun stuff to speculate!

    1. Great insight re: Laddie and Laurie, I never thought of that! She seemed determined that Jo not end up with Laurie, a very conscious decision, not unlike, I believe, the kind of decision that had her leaving Laddie behind in Europe.

    2. In fact, now that I think of it, the way Jo thought of Laurie as “her boy” may give insight into just how Louisa saw Laddie. So much there between the lines of Little Women! I can’t help but think that some of that stuff between the lines was from the subconscious. Louisa was very intentional in her writing but Little Women doesn’t have that “formula feel” like her other juvenile books (obviously because the formula was just being created) but what I mean to say is that I think a lot of very real stuff is in that book that wasn’t intentionally put there. Little Women is fiction but there is so much real heart in that book.

  19. I think Laurie still loved Jo even though he married Amy. If he had married another woman, he would have eventually lost his place in the March family. They had become his family, and Marmee stood in place of a mother to the motherless boy. Laurie did not want to risk losing the family he had grown up in.
    Amy is the last single daughter in the March family, and the one I like least. She is the least altruistic and most selfish of all of the sisters, and the change in her at the end of ‘Little Men’ is just not credible. But she did want to marry a rich man and have lovely things around her as well as continue her artistic exploits. Laurie was perfect for her. Whether she really loved him as anything but a brother is a matter of opinion.
    It was such a shame that Jo could not love Laurie as anything other than a brother, but because of her independent spirit, she really did need to find a man who could accept and love her as she was. The much older and tolerant Professor Baer was her perfect match.
    But I don’t think Laurie ever found what he considered his perfect mate. He just accepted the last March sister to stay in the family, and to still be able to see and talk to Jo.
    I have just finished re-reading both ‘Little Women’ and ‘Little Men’, and have begun ‘Jo’s Boys’, which I had never read previously.
    In the last two books, Amy is something of a nonentity. She appears rarely and has little to say. At family gatherings, Laurie always seems to gravitate toward Jo instead of his wife, and they are seldom seen interacting while the interaction between Jo and her husband is frequent and affectionate.
    Jo still treats the grown Laurie affectionately as her ‘boy’, tousling his hair and joking and reminiscing with him. He seems to prefer that to a more formal relationship than most men would have with a sister-in-law, especially one to whom he once confessed his love.
    A younger and less tolerant man than Professor Baer might find the relationship between Jo and Laurie an occasion for jealousy.

    1. This is a really interesting and provocative comment. When I first started reading your words I wasn’t sure but by the end I could definitely see it as a possibility. Laurie became bland in adulthood, tamed down by Amy; I was sorry to see that.

      I do think though that Amy grew into a gracious and giving woman although more self-centered than the rest (considering how selfless the rest were, that’s not saying much! :-)) May in real life appeared to be like that, very giving but with the world revolving around herself. I like May a lot, she had such a zest for life; that joy spread to everyone she met.

    2. > Jo still treats the grown Laurie affectionately as her ‘boy’, tousling his hair and joking and reminiscing with him

      I am a supporter of Laurie and Amy. From what I see, it’s Jo who regrets that she rejected Laurie.

      Ch. 43, the conversation of Laurie and Jo when he told her that he’s married seemed really tense to me. It’s like a cold war. Especially this conversation:

      “I am sure of that. Amy and you never did quarrel as we used to. She is the sun and I the wind, in the fable, and the sun managed the man best, you remember.”

      “She can blow him up as well as shine on him,” laughed Laurie. “

      1. I’m thinking more that Laurie’s marrying Amy reminds Jo of how lonely she is rather than a specific regret that she didn’t marry him. She knew in her heart they were not right for each other (although I do think Laurie grew boring with Amy). Once she realized that the professor was the right man for her, then things worked out for the best.

        I agree with you though that the initial conversation was tense, a bit forced. Jo’s better half was happy for the couple but their marriage put into sharp focus her own dissatisfaction.

  20. I’ve always been an Amy/Laurie person and after yet another re-read of their courtship, I was dying to discuss their relationship with someone, *anyone* who might see it the same way. It was great to find this post and even greater to see the discussion still going years later!

    So, here’s my big confession: I never really related to Jo. The kind of visceral animosity that most people feel towards Amy, that was me with Jo. I know, weird. I guess it’s because while the other characters struggled to cope socially in ways that I could much more easily identify with (Meg’s shame about being poor/not fitting in, Beth’s overwhelming shyness, Amy’s social ambition, and even Laurie’s struggles with his grandfather’s expectations) Jo was so supremely confident in her defiant stance. I felt like she was always a little patronizing to the others who were still struggling to figure out how much they wanted to fit in/rebel.

    And that’s pretty much why I am not for Jo/Laurie. She patronized him, and while I think he enjoyed and depended on that kind of attention when he was a teenager, because she gave him direction and made him feel like a more mature/better person in his drifter/musician/party-boy phase, it would have started to grate on him when he grew up and came into himself, as he does towards the end of the book. When Laurie proposes to Jo, he acts really entitled: Jo is the prize he is supposed to win for graduating college well. He thinks this milestone makes him a grown-up and arguably he demands Jo’s respect as an equal which she denies him — respect that he has seen her giving Bhaer. I read that proposal as a power play as much as anything! And Laurie rightly loses to Jo’s mature thinking.

    What makes his relationship with Amy really special, on the other hand, is that there isn’t really a question of domination at all. In that pivotal conversation, containing “the rouser,” they each teach the other how to gain respect instead of fighting for it: Laurie expresses his disappointment at Amy’s materialistic plans and Amy expresses her disappointment that he is wasting all his gifts because he couldn’t have the one thing he wanted. It’s interesting to me that Amy is immune to her family’s disapproval of Fred but not Laurie’s, because it’s not about ideals with Laurie, as it is with the family, but rather about *her* – it doesn’t bother him that Fred is rich only that he’s not right for Amy. So far, Amy is thinking of marrying well to cultivate a certain external image; Laurie makes her think about her own feelings for the first time and that in the end becomes the key to her achieving the gentlewoman status she wanted. In turn Amy gives Laurie the lesson to work with what you have rather than obsessing over the one thing you don’t. And of course, that is how Laurie finds his happiness and peace, with Amy, with his grandfather and with himself.

    So this got to be very long, but it felt excellent to get all the thoughts out so thanks for the space!

    1. Wow, excellent analysis! When I read Little Women for the first time I felt the same way you did about Jo. However, after a second reading, based mainly on the latter part of part two when Louisa explores Jo’s grief over Beth, I came around. I like Jo because she is a very real flesh-and-blood character with real struggles. Her coming around to realizing that she was lonely and longing for companionship and love, and that writing could not fill that need, was the best part for me.

  21. I ended up reading your old posts again. When I was younger and read Little Women I liked Laurie´s character but every time when I have read the book as an adult especially the young Laurie feels immature. John Brooke and Professor Bhaer I feel that they are the only male characters in the books who manage to take care of themselves and other people. I think Amy and Laurie both have certain level of vanity, something that none of the other characters had (well maybe Aunt March) and I guess that is why I see them as a very good couple. Amy was always very careful about her reputation and the way she looked and behaved. I think Amy really struggled with the family´s poverty more than other sisters and that is what made her determined to marry a rich man. I see her as a mirror reflection of Jo who want´s to make money with writing and support her family that way. Laurie is a very complex character I think his vanity had more to do with his privileged position. The scene where Laurie proposed to Jo it was all about claiming her like she was a prize for him. It was very different with Amy. Laurie did put his act together because she encouraged him.

    I don´t really see Jo as a submissive part in her relationship with Friedrich. The time in the books when she does come out as submissive is the time when they are not yet together but she´s in love with him, like the part where she wants to proof him how great shopper she is,which always makes me cringe because it is very un-jo-like. She is trying to impress him but at the same time she doesn´t really know what is the right way to do that. With Jo it is always a constant balance with being proper or non-proper. Like the part where she kisses him in the rain and it is all very non-proper but who cares she is going to do it anyway. I always saw them as the perfect couple because Jo felt as an outsider in the society of Concord so when she met Friedrich she met another outsider and instead of trying to change her to be something else he encouraged her to be her true-self.

    When I got into Alcott online circles for the first time long time ago it was a surprise for me that so many people wanted Jo and Laurie together. I always felt it was more of a brother/sister dynamic as well. Oh well..it is always #TeamBhaer for me and #TeamLaurieWithAmy

    1. I agree about Laurie, he is complex. And you’re right about the differences between Laurie and Jo, and Laurie and Amy. I particularly like your comment about Jo and Professor Bhaer – two outsiders who found each other. Louisa felt there was no man who could have fully understood her or put up with her need to be independent (aka, autonomous) and she probably was right.

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