Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is unquestionably one of the most popular and appreciated classics of all times, but what exactly is it that you love about it? Is it that flicking through the pages stirs memories of the ease and happiness of your own childhood? Is it the light yet captivating story or the amiable characters? Is it the whole atmosphere of blissful days at home with your family? For me it is neither of these.
I picked the novel up for the first time last weekend, and I could not have chosen a better book during my Readathon since I found it almost impossible to put it aside. It's not that the plot was so thrilling, but I was turning the pages feverishly because I was so interested in the development of the "little women".
While I didn't find any of the girls to fully identify with, I share certain personality traits with all of them (Jo's love for books, Beth's shyness towards strangers and Meg and Amy's social ambitions namely) and cared deeply for every single one of the young ladies, to the point of crying when I thought Beth would die.
For me, the most fascinating thing about this book is that the March girls are all children in the beginning; children who are slowly growing into independent young women.
They are children because in their little world everything is possible, anything can happen and the future holds all possibilities for them.
The true magic of childhood is freedom, the freedom to have a whole life with hundreds of chances before you. As a child you have all your future before you and you have not yet had to choose one path in life, letting go of all other possibilities. The quintessence of childhood is that a child's most difficult decision is between strawberry and vanilla ice cream.
Perhaps I am especially sensitive to the girls' process of growing up because I am in the middle of it myself, but I found it extremely intriguing to watch them overcome their little flaws and vanities and at times I caught myself thinking "The whole world is open for them, why shouldn't it be for me?"
Those were the times when I grew rather sad because I noticed that I am already thinking a lot like an adult.
In my opinion Little Women is one of those books all of us should read every now and then just so that we do not forget what it was like to be a child.
Don't get me wrong, I don't mean we should dwell on nostalgic thoughts of the good old times, no, I mean something entirely different. Call me childish, but I think the world would be a better place if we all remembered this feeling of our youth sometimes.
The feeling that we can do and become whatever we want as long as we try hard enough.