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What are some of the literary techniques in Louisa May Alcott's story Little Women?  

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pill44444 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 21, 2011 at 10:40 PM via web

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What are some of the literary techniques in Louisa May Alcott's story Little Women?


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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 22, 2011 at 8:52 AM (Answer #1)

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In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, the following quotes provide several distinct techniques (found in Chapter I.1 and I.2) to capture the reader's attention. First, imagery is used. Imagery is the use of specific details by the author to create a mental picture in the reader's mind.

[T]he four sisters....sat knitting away in the twilight, while the December snow fell quietly without, and the fire crackled cheerfully within.

Personification is also used in this same passage. Personification is giving human characteristics to non-human things. In the following example, the fire cannot be "cheerful." Only people are cheerful.

...the fire crackled cheerfully within.

In describing the character of Jo, the author uses a metaphor. A metaphor is the comparison of two dissimilar things that share similar characteristics. Here Alcott is comparing the young girl to a colt.

...Jo was very tall, thin, and...reminded one of a colt, for she never seemed to know what to do with her long limbs, which were very much in her way.

The author also uses a simile to create a vivid image in the reader's mind. A simile is when two dissimilar things are compared, using "like" or "as" in the comparison.

A quick, bright smile went round like a streak of sunshine.

Finally, Alcott uses an allusion, which is the reference to a famous person, place, quotation, etc. This is found in Chapter I.2 of the novel; the original quote is from the Bible in Mark 12:31—

The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

It is Meg that delivers the allusion to this familiar verse:

That's loving our neighbor better than ourselves, and I like it...

The use of a variety of techniques provides a more interesting reading experience for the reader. By creating images and quoting familiar passages, the tale comes alive and the reader is better able to not only imagine what is being described, but also to identify with the characters and become engaged in the plot development of the story.


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