A study of reading in 'Little Women'
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] The novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is often thought of as a book that focuses on the development of girls into women, but also on the development of the female writer. However, good reading usually precedes good writing; therefore, looking at how Alcott depicts reading in the novel is crucial to understanding a deeper analysis of Little Women. This thesis will examine all of the instances of reading in Little Women and explore who is reading, what they are reading, where they are reading, and how they are reading. It is through this deeper understanding of the novel that Alcott challenges readers to read with the characters in Little Women and interpret their reactions while they read poems and letters. Readers of the novel can also make background observations about the specific novels that the characters read. To specifically analyze this layered reading, the audience will use reader response theory to interpret these named references to 18th and 19th century novels. This study will conclude with an examination of the film adaptations of Little Women because the adaptations themselves are interpretations or readings of the novel, which will influence how future readers of Little Women will understand its message of reading and growing up.
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