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Characters / Little Women

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The characters from Little Women

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     Margaret "Meg" March 

  • Proper Lady: Impeccably good, dutiful and lady-like. This provides much contrast with rebellious tomboy Jo, insecure Shrinking Violet Beth, and Spoiled Brat Amy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Jo's Red.
  • Riches to Rags: She's the sister who can most clearly remember the family's prosperous past, and in the first book she can be a bit greedy at times.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Belle Moffat dolls her up in one of her gowns. Subverted later: Laurie isn't impressed by how Meg behaves in that party and calls her out on it.
  • Team Mom: For her younger sisters.
  • Widow Woman: John dies in Little Men, so Meg has to finish raising their twins John/"Demi" and Margaret/"Daisy" and baby Josie.

     Josephine "Jo" March 

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Played by Winona Ryder in the 1994 movie version, despite the book saying that she's average in looks aside of her beautiful auburn hair.
  • Adaptational Badass: In episode 13 of the 1981 anime, she stares down the barrel of the gun of a man that's about to kill a runaway slave. Dang!
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • The 1980 and 1981 anime adaptations, she is portrayed her as a freckled blonde, possibly because she is the most un-Japanese of the four girls.
    • In a recent Japanese illustrated book, and as played by Sutton Foster in the musical, she has red hair.
    • In the 2019 film she has strawberry blonde hair.
  • Age-Gap Romance: With Friedrich, who is 15 years older than her and actually started as her Big Brother Mentor.
  • Author Avatar: For Louisa May Alcott.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jo doesn't fit the Cute Bookworm stereotype, as she's very outspoken and confident, and she won't let anyone reign over her.
  • Better as Friends: How she feels about Laurie.
  • Big Sister Instinct:
    • She's very protective of Beth.
    • Amy tries to take advantage of it, saying she's too scared to call on the neighbors alone and wishes Jo would take care of her, but Jo sees through it immediately, knowing Amy isn't terrified of people in the slightest.
  • Bookworm: One of her defining traits, Jo loves literature and books. She is also a devoted writer.
  • Brainy Brunette: Jo has thick chestnut hair.
  • Brutal Honesty: Always very blunt in her speaking, and never afraid to speak her mind.
  • The Caretaker: Towards Beth, in the second part of Little Women
  • Celibate Heroine: Not interested in romance, at least initially. This is played up even more in the 2019 adaptation, which leaves ambiguous whether she ends up with Friedrich or not.
  • Color Motifs: Her favorite color is red, symbolizing her temper and passion.
  • Cool Big Sis: To Beth almost exclusively, using what money she makes as an author almost exclusively for her benefit, such as paying for a health spa and trips to the sea-side.
  • Determinator: One notable trait of Jo's would be her determination: when she set her mind on something, it was very difficult to dissuade her from doing it.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her temper gets her and others into trouble multiple times, such as when she's so angry with Amy that she neglects to warn her about the thin ice, so Amy falls in and nearly gets pneumonia, much to Jo's horror, or when her brash personality offends Aunt March so much that she chooses Amy to go to Europe with her over Jo.
  • Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter: Jo is the most tomboyish of the sisters, being outspoken, rebellious, and thoroughly against romance and her sisters' more feminine goals and traits. In contrast her mother Marmee is a strong and humble Proper Lady and House Wife who often imparts parental wisdom on her. Marmee once confesses to Jo that she once had a Hot-Blooded temper to rival Jo's but learned to control it; true to form, Jo matures into a more feminine Spirited Young Lady.
  • Fiery Redhead: Chestnut brown, which has red in it, depending on one's interpretation of chestnut). She is also, however, almost always a redhead in The Musical, as that is how she was initially played by Sutton Foster.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric.
  • Genki Girl: By 19th-century standards, at least. She's easily the most enthusiastic of the four sisters.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Amy.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Her Fatal Flaw that often leads her in trouble.
  • Hot-Blooded: The most impulsive, hot-tempered and passionate of the four girls.
  • Important Haircut: One of Jo's turning points in the first book was willingly cutting and selling her gorgeous Rapunzel Hair to help the family after Robert falls seriously ill and Marmee must go take care of him. Everyone reacts as if she was the victim of a Traumatic Haircut, but Jo is calm about it... until she's alone with Meg that night and confesses that it wasn't as easy as it seemed.
  • Kick the Dog: Ignores any attempts Amy makes at making up after their fight, then purposely neglects to tell her about the rotten ice when they go ice skating.
  • Lethal Chef: That time she invites Laurie for dinner and tries to cook, making a horrible mess. She does get better later on, though.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Masculine Girl to Laurie's Feminine Boy.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: She's an Author Avatar after all, so this makes perfect sense.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Though justifiably angry with Amy for burning her manuscript, Jo refuses to forgive her sister even when she tries to make amends and deliberately doesn't tell Amy about the ice being too thin when she and Laurie go skating - Amy them falls in and Jo is horrified that her anger seriously endangered her little sister.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Her name Josephine is rarely used.
  • Plucky Girl: The most obvious example in the book. She's brave, confident and never gives up.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to both Meg's and Beth's Blue. Also to Amy's Blue in Part II.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Laurie and Friedrich, respectively. She chooses Friederich, as she never liked Laurie romantically in the first place.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Meg/Laurie in Part I and for Beth/Laurie in Part II. She's a late-comer to Amy/Laurie but admits they would 'suit excellently' before she really considers it a possibility.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Given her outspoken, tomboy nature and her intellectual gifts. Though she starts off as more of a Tomboy, she gradually conforms a bit more to society's standards as she ages: witness her very domestic mending of Professor Bhaer's clothes as an adult. Meg plays the Proper Lady in contrast.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Dark-haired, very tall (at least in the book) and the snarkiest sister.
  • Team Mom: In Little Men.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Amy's Girly Girl. Jo is a headstrong Spirited Young Lady with a fiery temper who rejects female values and convention and finds sentimentality utterly repellent. Amy is a vain, spoiled artistic beauty, obsessed with her appearance, who aspires to be the perfect Proper Lady (and she actually becomes one when she grows up).
  • Tomboyish Name: Jo is short for Josephine. She's also a tomboy herself.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: In the 1987 anime, her hair is in a ponytail, which may or may not be historically inaccurate. This is also her go-to hairstyle in Japanese book covers.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: She's rebellious and hates the idea of romance in real life (initially), but she actually likes romance novels.
  • Tsundere: Type B. She is a nice girl, but sometimes can be brutally honest and has a bad temper.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Laurie. This is exactly why she turns him down when he proposes to her.

     Elizabeth "Beth" March 

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the 1978 miniseries, she's blonde, and in the 2019 film, like Jo, she's strawberry blonde, while most other adaptations give her mousy brown/dark brown hair.
  • All-Loving Hero: She seems more a little angel than a normal girl.
  • Color Motifs: Her favorite color is dove gray (a cool gray with a light purple tint), symbolizing her peaceful nature and shyness
  • The Cutie: Shy but also very sweet.
  • Daddy's Girl: More so than the other sisters. Justified, since she's a shy, insecure Ill Girl.
  • Face Death with Dignity: She had already suspected that she didn't have long to live before the rest of her family realizes it, but she comes to terms with it since she never wanted to get married and never had any big dreams for the future like her sisters did. In the end, her family tries their best to make her last days comfortable for her, and she dies quietly without any fuss.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Melancholic.
  • Friend to All Living Things: From cats to birds to other animals.
  • Humble Goal: She doesn't have lofty ambitions like Jo or Amy, or want a lot of fancy things like Meg; all she wants is a nicer piano. Luckily for her, Mr. Laurence eventually gives her one.
  • Ill Girl: She had scarlet fever in the first book. It doesn't seem much now, but actually scarlet fever can have very serious side-effects in the heart that were fatal and untreatable back then, and those are what killed poor Beth in the end.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Purity and innocence are her main defining traits (besides shyness).
  • Introverted Cat Person: She is the most introverted sister and often surrounded by kittens.
  • Kill the Cutie: A sweet, selfless but painfully shy Kindhearted Cat Lover who eventually becomes an Ill Girl and dies. Sniff.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: She loves taking care of her pet cats.
  • Ms. Imagination: Her "little world was peopled with imaginary friends," and she cares for her sisters' cast-off dolls as if they were invalids in a hospital.
  • Nice Girl: Almost too nice to believe. Out of all the girls, Beth has by far the least amount of flaws and she does nothing but try to please others.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Again, nobody calls her Elizabeth.
  • Ojou Ringlets: Has this hairstyle in the 1981 anime. It makes her even more adorable.
  • Preacher's Kid: While all four of the girls are this by technicality, Beth fits the 'Angelic' variant the best, while the others don't fit into either category.
  • The Quiet One: Extremely meek and reserved compared to the rest of the family.
  • Shrinking Violet: Her main flaw. She finds it very difficult, even painful, to talk to people outside her immediate family, and stops going to school out of shyness. She gets... a little better, but not too much.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Especially played up in the musical, where her death occurs off-screen but is preceded by a sweet duet about destiny between her and Jo, and about how Jo is meant for greater things than taking care of her ill sister.
  • Tuckerization: While all four March girls are based on Louisa May Alcott's sisters and herself, Beth is the only one that was directly named after one of them, and the only one who died before the book's publication.

     Amy Curtis March 

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: To Jo, at first.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: A reddish-brunette in the 1980 and 1981 anime series, contrasting with Jo being a blonde.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • A minor one. The 1981 anime pronounces her name as Emmy (written as エミー in katakana), while most Japanese adaptations keep Amy's name the same (written as エイミー in katakana). This only applies to pronunciation, since Amy's name is still written in English as Amy.
    • The Italian dub of the same anime also states Amy's full name is Amanda, while Amy is her nickname.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: The youngest of the March sisters and Meg in particularly is very indulgent with Amy, though she and Jo fight a lot as kids.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight after her Character Development in the second book.
  • Break the Haughty: Twice, in the first book. First, she's punished and humiliated at school when she attempts to be In with the In Crowd and breaks school rules to do so. Second, when she replaces Jo temporarily during Beth's illness... and has a HARD time pleasing Aunt March. (Though she does succeed in doing so, unlike Jo.)
  • Color Motifs: Her favorite color is blue, symbolizing her attempts at having a ladylike nature
  • Character Development: From a Spoiled Brat to a Proper Lady.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: She always knew that she would marry a man with money. She can really do it because she is, as described by the author, a 'regular snow-maiden' with curly golden hair and blue eyes, 'pale and slender', and 'always carrying herself' like a very proper young lady.' She also has the culture of being interested in art, theater, and traveling.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Has these in the 1980 anime special and the 1981 follow-up series.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: With Jo, as the Pretty Sister. Especially during their childhood when Amy was sometimes a Spoiled Brat and Jo often teased her.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Combined with I Just Want to Be Beautiful, with her anxiety about her nose and appearance.
  • In with the In Crowd: Especially when she was a kid.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She has a good heart behind her vain and self-centered behavior. In fact, she breaks down crying in the first book when she writes her own testament while Beth is sick, and then the very possible prospect loss of Beth sinks in.
  • Kick the Dog: Burning Jo's manuscript, complete with a My God, What Have I Done? when Meg and Marmie tell her how badly she messed up.
  • Malaproper: As a child, she often tries to use big words in order to seem intellectual and mature, but she almost always pronounces them wrong.
    "I know what I mean, and you needn't be 'statirical' about it! It's proper to use good words and improve your 'vocabilary.'"
  • Morality Pet: She's this for Aunt March, who genuinely likes Amy for being a well-mannered girl.
  • Pet the Dog: She clumsily attempts to comfort Jo after she sells her hair.
  • Proper Lady: As a child, she was more a wannabe Proper Lady, but she becomes a real one when she grows up.
  • Second Love: For Laurie, after her sister Jo rejects him
  • She's All Grown Up: She believed herself to be ugly as a child due to an accident involving her nose. Turns out she grew into quite the cutie.
  • Spoiled Brat: As a child, she is prone to behave in a vain and self-centered way, especially if she doesn't get what she wants.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Jo's Tomboy. Jo is a headstrong Spirited Young Lady with a fiery temper who rejects convention and finds sentimentality repellent (except in books). Amy is a vain, petted artistic beauty, anxious over her appearance, who aspires to be the perfect Proper Lady.

     Theodore "Laurie" Laurence 

     Margaret "Marmee" March 

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Marmee is described as "greying and not particularly beautiful". She's been played by Susan Sarandon and Mary Astor in notable adaptations. In the 2019 version, she's portrayed by Laura Dern, who looks youthful. Ironically she's actually older than the character is said to be (Laura Dern was 51 at the time of filming, and Marmee is said to be between forty and forty-seven).
  • Adaptational Name Change: Named Mary in the 1987 anime, Abigail in the 1994 movie, and Alma in Mark Adamo's opera.
  • Alliterative Name: Margaret March.
  • Cool Old Lady: A wise, loving woman who is always right.
  • Happily Married: To Robert.
  • Hot-Blooded: She once confesses to Jo that her temper is as volatile as Jo's, but that she has learned to control it.
  • Housewife: She cooks, cleans and looks after her girls.
  • Good Parents: She is clearly supposed to be the perfect mother in every way.
  • Parent ex Machina: The main purpose of her character is to teach her daughters various lessons throughout the story.
  • Proper Lady: Her wisdom and strong will are emphasized more than humility and kindness.

     Robert "Father" March 

  • Adaptational Name Change: His name is changed to Frederic in the 1987 anime and to Gideon in Mark Adamo's opera.
  • Badass Preacher: He may not have fought, but the mere fact that he decided to help other soldiers via giving them spiritual counselings in the campaigns lands him here.
  • Good Parents: Much like his wife, he's a perfect loving father with no apparent flaws.
  • Good Shepherd: He was too old to fight in the war, but still enrolled as chaplain.
  • Happily Married: To Mrs. March.
  • Raised by Grandparents: In the 1987 anime, his parents died when he was young, so Aunt March raised him.
  • Riches to Rags: Had a reasonably good fortune, but lost it to help some friends. The family's economic situation never really got better.
  • Sick Episode: Played VERY seriously, as he falls sick while still at war and that threw a big wrench in the family dynamics since Marmee had to go there and leave the girls alone.

     Hannah Mullet 

  • Maid: The March family servant.
  • Oireland: She's Irish
  • Old Retainer: Stays with the family after they've lost their money
  • Out of Focus: She doesn't really do much in the second half of the book. In fact, one could easily omit her from the story altogether and it wouldn't change much, if anything.
  • Parental Substitute: She loves the girls like they were here own, and takes care of the girls when Marmee has to leave.
  • Race Lift: Notably changed from Irish to African-American in the 1987 anime, and a few Japanese illustrated books followed suit.

     Aunt Josephine March 

  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: If she does like you, she might help a little.
    • She genuinely liked Amy despite giving her a hard time and worried over Beth's illness, and when she died, she left her Plumfield house to Jo.
    • She complains about and criticizes her nephew's family to the point where Marmee can barely stand her, but due to the family's poverty, she offered to adopt one of the girls, supplies the money for Marmee to visit Father, surreptitiously provides Meg with an enormously overstocked linen closet as a wedding present despite swearing not to, and Amy notices that, for all of her riches and treasures, the most precious to her is her wedding ring. Aunt March is a cross, sour old lady, but she definitely has the heart of gold down, too.
  • Neat Freak: Poor Amy!
  • Rich Bitch: A rich, snooty, cranky old widow. As seen in Jerk with a Heart of Gold, she's not entirely bad.

     Mr. James Laurence 

     John Brooke 

  • Adaptation Name Change: The 1987 anime names him Carl. His name goes back to John in the dub, though. The sequal anime 'Jo's Boys,' which was never dubbed into English, changes his name back to John with no explination.
  • Character Death: In Little Men.
  • Happily Married: To Meg in Part II.
  • Nice Guy: A hard-working, decent guy, and later, a good husband to Meg.
    Emil: Uncle Fritz is the wisest, and Uncle Laurie the jolliest, but Uncle John was the best, and I'd rather be like him more than any man I ever knew."

     Professor Friedrich "Fritz" Bhaer 

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: He is described in the novel as old, overweight, and rather grizzled. In the 1994, he is played by Gabriel Byrne. In the 1949 version, he's played by the handsome and dashing Italian actor Rossano Brazzi, who was only 32 at the time. The very handsome Ian Bohen plays him in the 2018 adaptation. Louis Garrel, from the 2019 version, is one of the more attractive actors to portray Friedrich in live-action.
  • Age-Gap Romance: With Jo, who is 15 years his junior.
  • Brutal Honesty: He gives a critique of Jo's writings that she takes offense to- mainly, that she should be doing better things than writing Lurid Tales of Doom.
  • Big Brother Mentor: He started as Jo's beta-reader and counselor.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his oddness, he's good at what he does. He was always a well-respected professor, apparently.
  • Cool Teacher: He's not just a teacher to Jo, but also a friend.
  • Endearingly Dorky: An intellectual, somewhat awkward and eccentric Gentle Giant. However he's a genuinely Nice Guy and Jo falls for him at the end, despite him being much older.
  • Funny Foreigner: He's German and quite... eccentric.
  • Gentle Giant: As tall as he's kind.
  • Nice Guy: He's a gentle and compassionate man.
  • The Smart Guy: Jo and later her family come to respect his intellect and classical education.
  • Unfortunate Name: His last name, which is not "bear" or "beer." Often lampshaded in the book, particularly when Laurie refers to Plumfield as a "Bhaer-garten," punning off the German "Bier-garten."

     John Laurence "Demi" Brooke 

  • Big Brother Bully: He loves Daisy, but if he told her to jump off a bridge, she'd do it. And if he got into his head some sort of fanciful idea about jumping off bridges, he would probably ask. In the anime, his bullying is almost non-existent, and usually pressured into it by Tommy Bangs.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: He's very well respected and admired among his classmates for this reason, is above reproach in any serious trouble (though he's still a little naughty sometimes), and the other boys wouldn't even consider attempting to convince him to do anything really morally wrong.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Just for fun, and much to his mother's distress.
  • Punny Name: He's named after his father, so the family would have been stuck calling him "Jack" to keep from having two Johns running around, but Laurie suggested naming him "Demijohn" ("Little John") and calling him "Demi" for short... which also happened to be alliterative with the nickname Aunt Amy gave to his twin sister.

     Margaret "Daisy" Brooke 

     Franz Hoffmann 

     Emil Hoffmann 


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