I finished reading my favorite book, Little Women, for the third time recently. Although it was first published in 1868, I was surprised to find a few elements that are similar to modern ways.
1. Jo March, the book’s protagonist, wants nothing more than to be a famous writer. When she discovers that the local publisher is accepting story submissions, Jo doesn’t hesitate to submit the works she had spent years perfecting. Because Jo was a new writer, she got paid very little for her work. However, she was happy for the experience and that her stories got printed. These days, young people are expected to be grateful if they’re able to gain any experience at all. The workforce has become super competitive and selective due to the economy, and landing an internship these days is considered an incredible feat. Forget about being paid even if you already bring plenty of experience to the table. New hires often have to settle for less, if anything at all, just for the chance to get their foot in the door.
2. Jo learned that publisher is only interested in stories that contain sexual and violent content. While Jo prefers to dream up romances, she agrees to write salacious stories in order to make more money. Her stories print and the publisher profits. It can be very easy to lose yourself for the sake of being published. Many publishers care more about making money than about what you’re interested in or good at as a writer. It’s important to find your own voice. Jo realized the gig was not for her and went back to her personal stories of love and friendship.
3. Jo establishes herself as a career woman early on in the book. She declares she will never marry and invests all her energies into her writing. Even when a childhood friend professes his love for her, she expresses her desire to be independent and working. Many young women today are trying to figure out why they have to choose between a career and starting a family. Why can’t they have it all? Even so, those young women who want to start a family are holding off on marriage until they make a career for themselves. In other cases, they’re waiting to find a suitable man. Either way, women are judged. Jo calls herself a spinster, which has negative connotations. But a stay-at-home mom has negative connotations too. And working mothers must balance work with being there for their children. With so many celebrity mothers admitting that they put their careers on hold to focus on their families, are normal women expected to do the same?