Little Women | Study Guide

Louisa May Alcott

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Louisa May Alcott

Years Published






Perspective and Narrator

The novel uses third-person omniscient narration, and the narrator occasionally addresses the reader directly, using the authorial "we," and sometimes refers to herself using the first-person pronoun "I."


Little Women is written primarily in past tense, but present tense is used in portions of the novel where the genre shifts from narrative fiction to other formats. These secondary texts, including letters, poetry, or newsletters written by the characters, use present tense or a mix of tenses.

About the Title

Alcott's use of the term little women has multiple meanings. On one hand, her definition of the March girls is Dickensian (the term was first used by Charles Dickens in Bleak House to refer to the perfect house angel Esther), indicating a transition from adolescence to adulthood as well as the strength of young girls who bear trials and show grace under pressure. On the other hand, there may be some hidden irony in this label, referencing the way in which women are subordinated and subjugated by patriarchal society. Alcott was a feminist and supported feminist causes. Some ambiguity exists in the novel, created by the overt and covert messages in the text.


This study guide and infographic for Louisa May Alcott's Little Women offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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