I recently saw the most recent film adaptation of Little Women, and I loved it. Greta Gerwig created a pleasant movie that perfectly captured the mental battles that come up with growing up. The casting was fantastic – Saoirse Ronan really brought Jo to life. I found myself crying my eyes out when Amy burnt Jo’s novel, and the same thing happened as the beautiful final scene panned out on the screen, the image of the sisters holding on to each other as they walked through their families to their Marmee.
Saying that, there were a few moments that strayed from Alcott’s extraordinary novel, and some that were omitted altogether. Of these missing scenes, there are three which I consider as extremely significant towards the plot, and so I was surprised when I realised that they won’t be included at all in the movie.
Keep reading to find out what those scenes were, and why I think they should have been left in the latest adaptation of Little Women.
Meg’s Relationship With John
OK, so this point covers multiple scenes, but that’s because many left out of Gerwig’s film. It made me feel like Meg was pushed right to the back throughout the story. My boyfriend (who hasn’t read the book) also proved my point when we came out of the cinema; he asked: “So, is the novel basically about just Jo and Amy then?”
I feel that Meg and John’s marriage was really pushed to the side in this adaptation, which was a shame as Meg learns so much from it. Aside from their money problems, Meg’s battle to conquer motherhood while becoming the perfect wife for her husband is put under no light whatsoever.
One example of this is when their son Demi refuses to go to bed, causing Meg to almost burst into tears as he refuses to go to sleep and leave her alone with John for the evening. John steps in, refusing her to ‘indulge’ him while Meg reproaches herself for leaving her son to wail upstairs alone:
“He’s my child, and I can’t have his spirit broken by harshness.”
“He’s my child, and I won’t have his temper spoiled by indulgence. Go down, my dear, and leave the boy to me.”
Meg must convince herself that their children are not her sole responsibility and that she must not forget her husband. They learn to compromise on how their children are raised, as well as many other matters concerning their family. Megs also discovers how much work can go into small things such as looking after their household and being a good wife, and so she begins to appreciate the simpler things in life – like a happy family.
Alcott uses scenes like this to show that marriage can have as many battles as the Civil War, a refreshing perspective compared to the classic novels that I’ve read. And from these battles, Meg grows into the mature lady we see at the end of the story.
Jo And Amy’s Calls
Jo and Amy’s relationship is notorious throughout literary history. The two sisters bicker constantly throughout Little Women, and for me, one of the most memorable arguments is when Amy convinces Jo to make calls with her.
Jo decides to mess with Amy here. Just before the first call they make, Amy tells Jo to act quiet and modest, and so Jo responds by staying utterly silent throughout their entire first visit. When she is asked a question, she simply says ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Amy scolds her for this, demanding that she acts in a friendlier manner.
So, for the second call, Jo turns on the charm and tells everyone in that social circle stories that reveal their families’ poverty, embarrassing Amy further. She tells Jo to stop messing about, and so Jo finally acts like herself, much to her sister’s dismay once again. She plays with the boys and dirties her skirts.
Finally, it’s on to Aunt March’s house, where Aunt Carrol is also visiting. Jo continues to act like her coarse self, which leads to some devastating results for her later on. She tells Aunt Carrol that she does not speak French as it is ‘a slippery, silly sort of language,’ while Amy states that she is fluent and is grateful to have learned it. This results in Carrol asking Amy to accompany her on a tour of Europe instead of Jo, who is devastated.
Amy finding her way to Paris is hugely significant for Little Women’s plot as it’s where her romance with Laurie begins to blossom, while allowing Amy to showcase to the readers how much she has grown.
The calls she and Jo made present the difference between the two sisters, placing Amy in a stronger light as she is more respectful during calls, which she is awarded for, contrasted by Jo’s curtness.
As Amy is often the most disliked out of all the March sisters, this moment redeems her, which is why I think it’s a shame that Gerwig didn’t include it in her adaptation.
Jo’s Relationship With Professor Bhaer
OK, so this is a repeat of the Meg-and-John point, but there’s no way I can write this blog without mentioning the portrayal of Bhaer in the latest movie adaptation.
One of the most famous debates in literary history is that Jo should have married Laurie instead of Professor Bhear, but I can’t entirely agree. I personally found Laurie too immature for Jo, as demonstrated by his clinginess towards Jo and the years he spent moping because she rejected his proposal.
Meanwhile, while Bhear certainly did not give the best first impression, he allowed Jo to grow into her writing, teaching her that she should write for herself, write the ‘truth,’ not the soppy stories that the publishers told her to write:
“There is a demand for whisky, but I think you and I do not care to sell it. If the respectable people knew what harm they did, they would not feel the living was honest. They haf no right to put poison in the sugarplum, and let the small ones eat it. No, they should think a little, and sweep mud in the street before they do this thing.”
Through this comparison, Bhaer reminds Jo that she is doing what she has always chastised Amy for – pursuing money despite her own beliefs and morals. He also does it in a way that involves a prohibited item, whiskey, which the March family does not touch for abstinent reasons. Bhaer’s bluntness earns him Jo’s most profound respect as he is not afraid to hurt her feelings if it means she learns something from it, helping her achieve in life. This type of affection is such a contrast to Laurie that it’s almost refreshing, and I was all for it.
This blog makes it sound like I wasn’t too fond of Gerwig’s Little Women, but honestly, I loved it. I sobbed silently in the cinema at many moments, was captivated by every character and how they combatted the restrictions placed by society. I’m just slightly perplexed over why the three scenes above were left out.
Then again, I think that every time a book is made into a film – it’s just never perfect, never as good as the author’s story itself.
Header image from Empire