Little Women Questions and Answers
by Louisa May Alcott

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What are two literary devices in Little Women? Are there any?  

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Literary devices give words meaning or force beyond their literal meanings. Alcott uses many literary devices in Little Women.

One literary device she employs is malapropism, which is having a character use a wrong word that sounds like the correct word in order to create a comic effect. Amy, the youngest, often uses malapropisms to try to sound more grown up. In chapter one, she complains that the girls in her school "label," or say bad things, about her father. She means "libel." (Actually, the correct term would be slander, since the insults are spoken, not written, but that's not important.) Jo says,

If you mean libel, I’d say so, and not talk about labels, as if Papa was a pickle bottle . . .

Jo uses simile in the quote above, which is comparing two unlike things using the words "like" or "as." She does this when she compares their father to a pickle bottle. She also uses alliteration, which is putting two words that begin with the same letter in close proximity, when she says "Papa" and "pickle bottle."

Part of Alcott's genius is in her ability to use literary devices to characterize the March sisters. It is typical of Amy, who always wants to look good and rise in social status, to use malapropisms, just as it is typical for the talented wordsmith Jo to use similes and alliteration.

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mkcapen1 | Student

Literary devices serve as means to state words in a colorful or expressive order.  The book Little Women makes use of literary devices throughout the book.

For example, personification is used in this passage found in chapter 2 of the novel.

"and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting."

The words give intent to demonstrate that the winter sunshine is able to move by creeping and can have a voice with which to extend a greeting; human characteristics.

In the book Jo uses a type of hair iron on Meg's hair and burns it badly.  The author relates Meg's hair burned hair to black pancakes.  This is an example of a metaphor where one thing is being compared to something that it is not really like.

"I'm so sorry, but the tongs were too hot, and so
I've made a mess," groaned poor Jo, regarding the little black pancakes with tears of regret".