Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Marmee (Mrs. March)
Mrs. March is a flat character in the story although she is a major one. She is the only character who never seems to make a mistake, who seems to have learned everything life has to offer and lives only to pass her wisdom on to her children. Nevertheless, she is not a nagging or preaching Mom. She seldom offers advice until the girls ask, and she generally finds lessons in their own experiences. She doesn’t "work" outside the home but spends a great deal of time visiting all of the sick and needy in the community. She is a presence and a voice more than a person as there is not even a clear description of her appearance in the book. She is diminished as an individual but exerts a clear influence over her daughters as they seek to live up to her expectations. Few growing children in real life appreciate their mothers to the extent that the March sisters do.
Laurie is the brother the girls never had. He is a fun-loving outgoing boy who has had every opportunity except those that come from having a large close family. He lives next door with his grandfather in the Laurence mansion and receives a private education. Since he has all the riches the girls think they want, he provides an excellent foil for them in terms of values. He takes his position for granted, but doesn’t flaunt it in the way that some of his wealthy friends do. Until his trip to Europe where he is indulging in self-pity over the rejection by Jo, he doesn’t put on airs, but fits as nicely into the March household as if he had been born there. Laurie doesn’t change much in the course of the story, other than to grow from a crazy teen into an equally spirited young man. He does learn that even he cannot always have everything he wants. It is worth noting that he does not try to win Jo’s hand-or Amy’s with a figurative flash of his money, but with real achievement. For Jo, he takes college seriously and graduates with honors even though he thought his only interests were in music. Because he genuinely loves the family, he is quick to do whatever he can for them, even to sending the telegram on his own when Beth is sick.
Although the philosophy expressed by the narrator puts the burden of submissiveness on women, Laurie freely admits that Amy is the one who runs things in their relationship. Nor does he object. He has submitted to the influence of the girls from the time he met them, even going so far as to promise Meg on her wedding day that he would not succumb to the dangers of alcohol and indulgent living.