What elements in Little Women make a classic novel?

I believe that the novel is a classic because it conveys universal ideas that are needed in any time or place.

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I think that the "classic" nature of a novel really boils down to one thing: its ability to make meaning for people in different places and eras. In this text, the March sisters learn things like the idea that life needs a balance between work and play. Work gives us...

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I think that the "classic" nature of a novel really boils down to one thing: its ability to make meaning for people in different places and eras. In this text, the March sisters learn things like the idea that life needs a balance between work and play. Work gives us purpose and makes us feel productive, but we need downtime as well. If we have all downtime, we accomplish nothing, but all work means that we never have a chance to relax and take it easy, pursue hobbies, etc. Such an idea can apply to people of any time or place. Likewise, the novel conveys the idea that nature can have tremendously beneficial effects on us; in fact, we are our best selves when we are in nature. Think of the March sisters' Busy Bee Society, when they take their work outside. They are able, again, to find meaning and purpose in the work, but they are also inspired to use their imaginations and dream of what futures they want for themselves. This helps them to figure out what they value most, what they want to prioritize in their lives, and consider how they can achieve it. This idea, again, is universal: most cultures recognize the beauty and importance of nature and its positive effects on humanity.

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Timelessness, universal themes, and communicating across cultures are all aspects of a classic novel.  Louisa May Alcott'sLittle Womenhas all three. 

Timelessness--  Although the story takes place during the American Civil War, the struggle of the March family has resonance with all ages, no matter the generation.  The novel centers on the characters who feel so real that the time period and circumstances hardly matter.

Universal Themes-- Little Womenis about family.  You can't get much more universal than that, but it's the way that Alcott has written the story about the March family that stays with the readers.  The March family through their trials and difficulties deal with issues that are common to most families:  forgiveness (Remember when Amy burns Jo's book, and how hard it was for Jo to forgive her?), acceptance, loyalty. 

Communicating across cultures-- A reader does not have to be a historian or a Civil War buff to enjoy Little Women; the core of values in this novel and the heart-warming story about finding love reaches far beyond its own cultural context.

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