I published this article last year on my old website, so I thought I'd revive it for my new audience. I hope you enjoy!
We all have that one character in each book we read that resonates with us the most. Whether we relate to them and what they’re experiencing, or if we simply understand their personality, there is no question that discovering their character in reading the story is when we become drawn in.
I think for the most part we can all say that we prefer to read a book about an imperfect and flawed character, rather than one who is perfect all the time (which is why Anne Shirley will forever be my favorite heroine). Little Women by Louisa May Alcott did a fantastic job of this, providing us with characters with realistic traits. Every character is memorable and very down to earth in their own way. I could go on forever about them all, but today I’m going to discuss just one character, Amy March, and why she is my personal favorite in this book.
She’s Reasonably Flawed
Most of us who have read or watched Little Women can say that Amy is your basic definition of a selfish girl, and because of this many of her actions (especially early on in the novel) bring catastrophe upon her head. Whether it's her burning Jo’s handwritten manuscript or getting in trouble at school, Amy is very good at making things difficult for herself.
When the book begins Amy is only 12, so it’s no wonder that her faults are shining in all their glory, and in a very unapologetic manner. She is overly emotional and outspoken, and overall very flawed, which is honestly one of the things I love most about her character. Not only is Amy's troublemaking very entertaining to read about, but it’s 100% relatable.
At that time in the mid-late 1800s, the belief of “Children are to be seen and not heard” was prevalent in many homes. Girls were taught to act ladylike and speak only when spoken to, but those of us who remember what being 12 was like know that this probably didn’t work for very long. Amy tried to be ladylike many times, used large words in the wrong context, and dreamed of riches and wealth, but she was as spiteful and outspoken as anyone, and the ladylike-ness of her personality immediately disappeared if you crossed her in any way. She cried a lot ( which anyone between the ages of 12-14 is sure to do at least three times a week) and took everything seriously. To me it was realistic that a girl her age wouldn’t have a filter, and it was refreshing to see that Louisa May Alcott didn’t choose to gloss over this aspect of Amy’s personality.
She’s Based On a Real Person
Anyone who has read The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper, or has read up on the Alcott family knows that Amy March is based on Louisa's younger sister, May Alcott. Most of the March sisters are based on the author's family, but Amy and May are practically indistinguishable from each other.
May, Like Amy, was an artist and became very successful in her profession. Many of her paintings are on display in art galleries where she studied, and along with her husband she published a book, Studying Art Abroad and How to Do it Cheaply. May was reportedly very disconcerted about Louisa's description of the more flawed aspects of her character, but it didn’t stain her character for a minute, as to this day people marvel over her beautiful artwork. Knowing Amy was based on a real person somehow made her seem more real to me, and the situations she found herself in as a young girl seemed much more genuine.
She Grew as a Person
As annoying as a permanently perfect character can be, a character who remains highly flawed and immature for their age can be just as bad and static. This is something that I really appreciated about Amy’s character because as she grew up, she gradually grew out of her selfish tendencies in a big way. She was still Amy of course, and she could still be spiteful, but she came to be a very loving person and with hard work managed to achieve all of her dreams (even the riches and wealth).
I think that something that caused her to really grow up, was Beth’s illness. After Beth’s health began to deteriorate and even more so when she eventually died, Amy became a much more compassionate person, which really came to be in her benefit when her own baby ended up with very similar poor health. Further still, her relationship with Laurie seemed to bring out the best in her, especially when she was trying to get him to snap out of his moodiness. Her character overall, though it was always passionate and sensitive, became kinder and more sincere as she grew up into a young woman.
Who is your favorite March sister, and why? Let me know in the comments below!