I still remember all the feelings I had when reading Little Women by Lousia May Alcott for the first time. The writing, the story, and the characters were all so beautiful. When I closed the book, I felt like the world was a better place. The first film version I watched was the 1949 version with Elizabeth Taylor and June Allyson. It may have been that it was the first movie adaptation I watched, but I loved it more than all the other adaptations I would see over the years. I have faithfully watched it every Christmas since. The fact that I watch Little Women at Christmas speaks to the warmth and spirit of the story. It is about family, hope, love, perseverance, and faith.
Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of Little Women truly gets to the heart of what Little Women is about even more so than my beloved 1940s film.
As someone who has seen every version (I think) ever made of Little Women, I was very skeptical of another adaptation. The story has just been told too many times (I thought), with little change but the actresses and actors.
Greta Gerwig shows her genius by reimagining Little Women as a film and a piece of art while staying true to the heart of the story.
All other versions of the film have unfolded in the predictable, chronological time frame. Gerwig begins at the end and lets the story unfold in flashbacks. She carefully weaves the story together piece by piece. In doing so, she is able to more fully show the development of each sister and their relationship as a family.
This, I feel, is what makes this version feel so much closer and truer to the original story than past versions. This is also why I think it is even easier to relate to the already relatable characters.
What We Know about Womanhood
Being so familiar with this story, I was surprised by just how emotional I was throughout the movie. I had tears in my eyes the entire time. I had braced myself for the moment of Beth’s death, but that was not the most emotional moment of the film for me.
Near the end, there is a scene where Jo is speaking to Marmee about how utterly lonely she is being a woman. A crying Jo says, “Women have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. They’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. I am so sick of people saying love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But…I am so lonely.”
I have reflected on this feminist theme since watching it a week ago.
We are still wresting with women’s roles in our culture and in our Church today. We, as a Church, and like Jo, acknowledge the beauty of being a woman. We do have beautiful hearts inclined to nurture and love. Jo feels pigeon-holed by this, and feels she must sacrifice this part of herself to have ambition and to honor her brilliant mind.
The tragedy of the scenario hurt me to my core. Partly because I have experienced this tension in my own life, and partly because I have observed it in my friends and family. This conversation needs to be held until the day women realize they don’t have to sacrifice their nature for their dreams.
How I wish I could tell Jo in that moment to look to Mary and all the other fierce, talented, and loving women we have examples of in our Faith!
Although she is speaking more to the culture she lived in, I think she would find encouragement in her battle. I feel sure Mary’s strong Magnificat would fill her with courage. In St. Joan of Arc she would find a kindred spirit. In all the religious sisters throughout Church history she would find examples of single women who lived out their vocations fully, and married women who did as well.
My hope is that at this moment you do not feel as Jo did. My hunch is you have at some point. So this is my humble piece of advice: don’t fall into the lonely, heartbreaking trap that Jo does. Don’t sacrifice your heart for your head or vice versa.
Know that God holds all pieces of your identity as a woman in His hands and with care and a sense of importance. He is the God of our homes and hearts as well as the God of our minds and dreams. He can be trusted.Greta Gerwig's Little Women + What I Wish I Could Tell Jo #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Bond Strong lives in the mountains of southwest Virginia with her husband, Reece, and two sons, Willis and Harmon. She can be found on Instagram @bwarnerstrong and her conversion story can be found here.