* DieForOurShip: Poor Amy. To this day there are ''still'' people invested in demonising her (and apparently Professor Bhaer) for preventing Jo/Laurie. [[DoubleStandard While conveniently letting *Laurie* off the hook, despite him pushing his feelings on Jo to the point of getting rejected twice]].
* FairForItsDay: The series was actually comparatively feminist by the standards of the time -- especially "Jo's Boys", which is set in a co-ed college, struggles openly with the concepts of gender equality, and comes to some surprisingly modern conclusions. In particular, Annie ''aka'' Nan is portrayed as a capable and independent young woman who treats Tommy Bangs' insistence on their ChildhoodMarriagePromise with open amusement, choosing to pursue her medical studies instead and ending up a successful single doctor. All the while Daisy's own choice to marry her VictoriousChildhoodFriend Nat and become a HouseWife is ''also'' seen as valid and worthy of respect.
** Josie puts it to Mr March directly:
--->"Grandpa, must women always obey men and say they are the wisest, just because they are the strongest?" she cried, looking fiercely at her cousin, who came stalking up with a provoking smile on the boyish face that was always very comical atop of that tall figure.
--->"Well, my dear, that is the old-fashioned belief, and it will take some time to change it. But I think the woman's hour has struck; and it looks to me as if the boys must do their best, for the girls are abreast now, and may reach the goal first," answered Mr March, surveying with paternal satisfaction the bright faces of the young women, who were among the best students in the college.
* FanPreferredCouple: Jo and Laurie. The original 19th century fandom also shipped them.
* FirstInstallmentWins
* FridgeHorror: Mr. Laurence gives Beth his dead granddaughter's piano. So...Laurie had a sister or cousin?
** According to some versions of the book, Laurie had an older sister who died when both of them were little kids. It's not said ''how'' she died, but it may have been an illness since Laurie himself was kind of an IllBoy as a child.
* HeartwarmingMoment: The very end of the 1994 film:
-->'''Bhaer''': But I have nothing to give you! My hands are empty!
--> '''Jo''': (taking his hand) Not empty now.
** "I know I shall be homesick for you, even in Heaven."
* HilariousInHindsight: An out-of-universe example in Alcott's journal about her publisher's request to write a book for girls (info in brackets added by troper):
-->Marmee, Anna (Meg's real-life counterpart), and May (Amy's real-life counterpart) all approve my plan. So I plod away, though I donít enjoy this sort of thing. Never liked girls or knew many, except my sisters, but our queer plays and experiences may prove interesting, though I doubt it.
--> (Added later after the novel's publication and success) [[LampshadeHanging Good joke]]
* HollywoodHomely: Most, if not all, of the movie adaptations cast very beautiful actresses to interpret the self-described "plain" Jo March, leading to the unintentionally hilarious moment when Jo has her hair cut off and a very shocked Amy cries: "Jo, your one beauty!". The Winona Ryder version even has her declare that she is "ugly and awkward". At least Creator/KatharineHepburn in the most famous earlier adaptation isn't a classic beauty, and manages to make young Jo coltish and a bit clumsy.
** This could also be said of the latest incarnation of Professor Bhaer, aka Gabriel Byrne.
* ItWasHisSled: Beth's fate.
* MisaimedFandom: Alcott was upset to see her female readers focus less on Jo's struggle to be a writer and live her life the way she wanted to, and much more on whether she and Laurie would or not end up married. Hence why her ShipSinking was so determined.
-->"Girls write to ask who the Little Women will marry, as if that were the only aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone."
* {{Moe}}: Beth.
* NarmCharm: ''LittleWomen'' plots a course through {{Mary Sue}}s, [[PurpleProse wildly extravagant and sentimental prose]], [[AnAesop Aesops]] (some of them [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop rather questionable]]) in [[OnceAnEpisode nearly every chapter]]... and comes out as a gripping romantic drama with a deserved place in the highest pantheon of American literature.
* PuritySue: Amy grows from a vain, spoiled, pretentious, tantrum-throwing little girl into the unabashed epitome of tact, taste, beauty and gentility as a woman, with next-to-no warning. Partly understandable when you realise she was based on Alcott's own younger sister May, who died after the book was published and left her daughter Louisa to be raised by Alcott. Also, Amy is kept ''deliberately'' in the background of the sequels, and is described as someone who doesn't seem to age -- as a way for Alcott to remember her dead sister and cope with her absence.
** Beth is ''so'' sweet and kind and is the only sister with no apparent flaws, aside from shyness and low self esteem. She always had elements of SympatheticSue as well, even ''before'' she became an IllGirl. Her real life counterpart died, too.
** Daisy is described as Beth incarnate in the end of ''Little Women'' and reminds Jo of Beth again in ''Little Men''. Arguable, since while she has Sue-ish qualities she doesn't seal the spotlight.
** The "Princess" Bess in ''Jo's Boys'', which none of her fellow characters would ever try to deny.
* ShippingGoggles: Jo puts on her Beth/Laurie shipping goggles in the chapter "Tender Troubles."
* TastesLikeDiabetes: Can come across as such to a modern reader unused to the straight-forwardly sentimental tone and earnest moralising very typical of children's literature of the time.
** Beth in the 1949 film version is so cloyingly cute that her scenes lose their poignancy.
* UnintentionallySympathetic: Jo, when Amy [[DisproportionateRetribution burns her manuscript]] when the latter doesn't take her on an outing to the theatre. As per the moral imperative mentioned in TastesLikeDiabetes above, the intended focus of the chapter (actually called "Jo Meets Apollyon", ie. her ultimate failing) is clearly Jo's recognition of and resolve to control her violent temper. The modern reader is much more likely to home in on the fact that it was the ''only'' copy of the manuscript that Jo had spent years pouring her heart into. Adding to which Amy, however genuinely remorseful at first, quickly starts to get petulant when she isn't forgiven right away. And when Jo goes out skating with Laurie, leading Amy to whine about missing ''another'' outing, [[UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom Meg]] doesn't help matters at all by blithely suggesting that the little girl tag along where she clearly isn't wanted.
* ValuesDissonance: Unavoidable, given the books were written circa 1870.
** The initial relationship between Jo and Bhaer seems [[NoSparks weirdly unromantic]] by modern standards, especially compared to what one might expect for [[SpiritedYoungLady young, spirited, independent Jo]]. The 1994 film goes out of its way to give them a more romantic love story.
** In ''Little Men'' [[EducationMama Billy Ward's father]] is illustrated as having pushed his son's education far too hard by "keeping him at his books six hours a day". Nowadays seven hour school days are the absolute minimum (not counting homework). Internationally some school days go as long as sixteen hours.
*** This shows up again more explicitly in one of Alcott's non-March novels, ''Jack and Jill''. Near the end of which Jack's mother--portrayed throughout as a cultured and thoughtful woman--informs her sons she's going to cut back their study hours drastically ''for their own good''. This is taken to the extent of deliberately delaying the older brother's entry into college. Hilariously to the modern reader, the boys protest loudly at this, to no avail.
** Right after John Brooke's death, Professor Bhaer tells his students he "died as he has lived, so cheerfully, so peacefully, that it seems a sin to mar the beauty of it with any violent or selfish grief." [[EmotionsVsStoicism Getting upset about the unexpected death of a close friend and relative as "selfish" and "a sin" would be an extremely hard sell in a children's book today.]]
** The opening chapter of ''Jo's Boys'' unceremoniously informs us that [[BuryYourDisabled physically disabled Dick and mentally disabled Billy]] are [[KilledOffscreen dead now]]. And "[[UnfortunateImplications no one could mourn for them, since life would never be happy]], [[DisabledMeansHelpless afflicted as they were in mind and body]]". While the idea that [[FateWorseThanDeath death is preferable to disability]] is still around, [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop it's far less acceptable]], let alone charitable or sympathetic.
** Interestingly, the different film versions of ''Little Women'' all echo the values of the time in which they were made, to the point of contradicting each other:
--->[[http://www.womenwriters.net/domesticgoddess/thesis5.htm When we view the 1933 version, we are reminded of a nation during the Depression that needed to see the March girls' benign poverty and nostalgic family togetherness. The 1949 version, with its two shopping trips, reinforces how important it is for a woman to be a consumer, and the 1994 version supports strong, unconventional, feminist women.]]
* TheWoobie: [[IllGirl Beth]]. Jo definitely has her moments as well.
** [[HeartwarmingOrphan Nat Blake]] from ''Little Men''.
** [[InspirationallyDisabled Dick Brown and Billy Ward]].
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