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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
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.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Little Women!