The protagonist of the novel, and the second-oldest March sister. Jo, who wants to be a writer, is based on Louisa May Alcott herself, which makes the story semi-autobiographical. Jo has a temper and a quick tongue, although she works hard to control both. She is a tomboy, and reacts with impatience to the many limitations placed on women and girls. She hates romance in her real life, and wants nothing more than to hold her family together.
The oldest March sister. Responsible and kind, Meg mothers her younger sisters. She has a small weakness for luxury and leisure, but the greater part of her is gentle, loving, and morally vigorous.
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The third March daughter. Beth is very quiet and very virtuous, and she does nothing but try to please others. She adores music and plays the piano very well.
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The youngest March girl. Amy is an artist who adores visual beauty and has a weakness for pretty possessions. She is given to pouting, fits of temper, and vanity; but she does attempt to improve herself.
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The rich boy who lives next door to the Marches. Laurie, whose real name is Theodore Laurence, becomes like a son and brother to the Marches. He is charming, clever, and has a good heart.
The March girls’ mother. Marmee is the moral role model for her girls. She counsels them through all of their problems and works hard but happily while her husband is at war.
The March girls’ father and Marmee’s husband. He serves in the Union army as a chaplain. When he returns home, he continues acting as a minister to a nearby parish.
Laurie’s tutor. Mr. Brooke is poor but virtuous.
A respected professor in Germany who becomes an impoverished language instructor in America. Mr. Bhaer lives in New York, where he meets Jo. He is kind and fatherly.
Laurie’s grandfather and the Marches’ next-door neighbor. Mr. Laurence seems gruff, but he is loving and kind.
The Marches’ loyal servant.
A rich widow and one of the March girls’ aunts. Although crotchety and difficult, Aunt March loves her nieces and wants the best for them.
Meg and Mr. Brooke’s daughter. Daisy is the twin of Demi. Her real name is Margaret.
Meg and Mr. Brooke’s son and Daisy’s twin. Demi’s real name is John Laurence.
The woman who runs the New York boarding house where Jo lives.
One of Laurie’s British friends. At first, Kate turns up her nose at the bluntness and poverty of the Marches. She later decides that she likes them, however, showing that she is able to overcome her initial prejudice.
Meg’s rich friend. Sallie represents the good life to Meg, and Meg often covets Sallie’s possessions.
One of the March girls’ aunts. Aunt Carrol is ladylike, and she takes Amy with her to Europe.
Aunt Carrol’s daughter. Florence accompanies her aunt and Amy to Europe.
One of the Vaughn siblings. Fred is Laurie’s friend, but he soon develops a romantic interest in Amy.
Aunt March’s servant. Esther is a French Catholic.
Another wealthy friend of Meg’s. Annie is fashionable and social, and she wears stylish clothing that Meg envies.
The older brother of Meg’s friend Annie Moffat.
One of the Vaughn siblings. Frank is sickly.
The youngest sister of the Vaughn family. Grace and Amy become friends on a picnic.
A doctor who tends to Beth when she is ailing.
A family that lives near the Marches. The Hummels are poor and in bad health.