Almost every bubbly youth who has read Little Women can relate to the free-spirited, tomboyish, enthusiastic, and sensitive heroine of the timeless American classic. Jo March, however, was a lot more than just a rebel of the conventional ways and norms, she was well and truly the upholder of the modern, open, passionate craft of writing.
We are all familiar with Jo's literary journey, but have we all read between the lines by Alcott? Jo March shows incredible strength of character, courage, and creative flexibility when it comes to changing her mode of approach as a storyteller, to ensure the perfect sale of her work. Although it appears — and is criticized by many — as being shallow and bent on monetary benefit, it must have taken a lot of courage and readiness on her part when the editor of The Weekly Volcano, after having stricken through all the character reflections in Jo's story, which was her true focus as a writer, actually told her to omit these as the readers were likely to find them boring and "petty". Most writers would shrink from changing their true style, but Jo did it with an effortlessness that was almost unimaginable, which she knew was crucial, as, sensitive as she was, she had only taken up writing as a job to economically raise the standards for her family.
However, writing had become feelingless and mechanical to the passionate, artistic Jo, without her even realizing it, and she would soon have to face a mirror in the critical comments of the wise and intelligent Professor Friedrich Bhaer, who would disregard all her recent works as being shallow and devoid of sentiment, even immature. After this revelation, Jo did realize deep in her heart that she actually had shut her heart off from her pen, and gone on writing in a tireless reverie of the marketing purpose. She had added spice, added drama; but in all this, she had totally turned the lights of her wisdom and intellect off. However, her confident and forward personality had been ashamed of admitting it to the insightful Professor Bhaer, who she knew had already seen through her. In an outburst of disappointment and resentment in her abilities as an artist, she gave up the pen for a considerable amount of time.
After months of shame-and-guilt-induced writer's block, Jo emerged like a phoenix from the ashes of her own regrets. This was perhaps the biggest lesson of all time that she taught writers. Whenever you hit a dead end in trying to be someone you are not, go straight back to being yourself. She took inspiration from the people around her — her family, friends, relatives, their struggles, joys, and woes; and painted all over those with the hues of her passion, imagination, talent, and skill. She realized that the passion that had been ignited in her heart was nothing but an expression of her own life in her own literary creation, and this passion was the ultimate ingredient to a timeless, palpable, incredibly alive work of literature.
Thus was born Little Women, a classic that is being read, felt, and lived in for so many years now, as successful even today as it was at the time of publication, for we all know: Jo March was none other than Louisa May Alcott herself, an alter ego in whom she projected all her heart, soul, dreams, and ambitions.
Just a fresh page in the book of youth, sailing happily through the clouds of literature: Ankita Chandra is a passionate aspiring novelist.