“Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig, offers a dynamic and empowering modern adaptation of life for the March sisters. “Little Women” has historically allowed audiences to identify themselves with each of the March sisters: Jo, Meg, Amy or Beth. As each sister has developed into some sort of feminist archetype, Gerwig’s adaptation is increasingly important as it modernizes the sisters and allows a new era of feminism to be represented.
The beauty in the March sisters is that they each carry their own weight, setting them apart from each other but in a way that doesn’t allow them to be compared. While Gerwig’s adaptation is not inclusive in every sense of the word — the cast is predominantly white — but for the history and context of the story, it speaks volumes of how women have always and continue to operate.
The March sisters encapsulate modern female energy because their successes and shortcomings are not defined by the men in their lives, but more by how they drive their own ambitions independently. There’s almost an attitude about the little women that they can’t be bothered, that their goals alone are too important to let anything distract from them.
While there’s undeniable independence about each of the sisters, there’s an honesty in the way they view love that is often difficult to articulate.
As Jo, the most headstrong of the bunch, grapples with defining her life by her career and her strengths, she confesses to her mother that she is incredibly lonely. The scene is powerful in many ways and holds a gravity about the way we perceive modern relationships. Especially in film and television, romantic love is seen as a necessity, as the “endgame.” Though Jo is not lonely by the end of the film, her romantic love was not the triumph of her life, promoting a positive message for the modern woman. As a character, Jo’s importance lies in that she views her career with an unwavering drive and independence, yet she longs for love with the same passion.
The idea of women “wanting to have it all” is incredibly outdated, and “Little Women” offers that women need to have it all. It encapsulates that we should never be inclined to choose between success and a career, but that both should just be a part of the way women navigate the human experience.