Do you see connections in writing styles or themes between Louisa May Alcott and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Louisa May Alcott and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow both write about moral heroines who are notable for their sacrifices to others. In Alcott's Little Women, Jo sells her beautiful hair to pay for her mother to visit her father during the Civil War, and her sister, Beth, dies after contracting scarlet fever while tending to a poor family's baby. Longfellow's heroine Evangeline in the poem "Evangeline" follows her beloved, Gabriel, after the British force the Acadians to leave Acadie. She then nurses the poor until she is reunited with her dying lover. The heroines in both writers' works are self-sacrificing people who are committed to altruistic values such as helping the poor, helping their loved ones and family, and disdaining beauty and wealth. These were important values in the time before and after the Civil War, as "Evangeline" was published in 1847, and Little Women was published in 1868. In addition, their heroines are strong and independent in a way that could be considered feminist by today's standards; for example, Jo in Little Women does not marry her neighbor, Laurie, but insists on working as a writer. 

The works of Longfellow and Alcott also helped contribute to and define the American culture. For example, Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride," published in 1860, retold the historic journey of Paul Revere to warn townspeople in Massachusetts that the British troops were coming on the eve of the American Revolution. Little Women celebrated the sacrifice necessary for the Union to win the Civil War. Both authors defined the culture as one of patriotism, sacrifice, and commitment to a larger good. 

In addition, both authors celebrate the beauty of nature in lyrical ways--Alcott in poems such as "I Write about the Butterfly" and "The Frost-Song," and Longfellow in poems such as "Nature." "Nature" and "The Frost-Song" connect nature with the ability to soothe people's ways towards death. In their works, nature is a divine force. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial