Little Women

by: Louisa May Alcott

Beth March

Characters Beth March

The third March sister, Beth is very shy and quiet. Like Meg, she always tries to please other people, and like Jo, she is concerned with keeping the family together. Beth struggles with minor faults, such as her resentment for the housework she must do.

Beth resembles an old-fashioned heroine like those in the novels of the nineteenth-century English author Charles Dickens. Beth is a good person, but she is also a shade too angelic to survive in Alcott’s more realistic fictional world. With Beth’s death, Alcott lets an old type of heroine die off. The three surviving March sisters are strong enough to live in the changing real world.

Beth is close to Jo; outgoing Jo and quiet Beth both have antisocial tendencies. Neither of them wants to live in the world the way it is, with women forced to conform to social conventions of female behavior. Similarly, it is not surprising that Meg and Amy are particularly close to each other, since generous Meg and selfish Amy both find their places within a gendered world.