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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. What attitudes toward marriage does Alcott present in Little Women, and how do they compare to contemporary attitudes?

2. Why do you think Little Women—in many ways a dated, sentimental, and moralizing work—has endured in popularity for more than one hundred years? What lessons can modern readers learn from the book that would help them to live better lives?

3. Little Women is the first of three March family books. Read either Little Men or Jo's Boys and compare it to Little Women. What new information are you given about the family in the sequel? Do you notice any differences in Alcott's telling of the story?

4. What does Alcott seem to be saying in her novels about the conflict between women's quest for political, economic, and educational equality and the demands of domestic life?

5. Louisa May Alcott's father, Bronson Alcott, was a leading figure in the philosophical school known as transcendentalism, as was the Alcotts' neighbor in Concord, Ralph Waldo Emerson. What does the term "transcendentalist" mean? Research and report on the history of transcendentalist thought in America.