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The Lalastack Of Old Books And Glasses
The Lalastack Of Old Books And Glasses
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How Greta Gerwig Gave Amy Everything She Deserved

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Guelph chapter.

Little Women is a timeless classic that has been teaching readers about the importance of sisterhood, love, and passion for decades. And it will , no doubt, continue doing so for decades to come. 

Louisa May Alcott follows four sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy — as they grow from girls to young women and become fierce individuals with their own families to look after. 

The tale has been retold from stage to screen, all adaptations bringing their own unique touch to the characters. But no other has done it like Greta Gerwig in her 2019 rendition. Not only does Gerwig alternate between the girls’ past and present, but she also tells each sister’s story with an equal amount of love and care. 

What’s more is that Gerwig managed to make spoiled little Amy March into an independent, wise soul with whom everyone can suddenly relate. 

Even as a young Amy, she shows incredible self-awareness which has been absent in most retellings up until now. When she burns Jo’s precious manuscript, she is upfront about her intentions. Clearly stating her anger and desire to properly hurt Jo, and only apologizing out of obligation.  

Gerwig doesn’t shy away from the idea that girls aren’t saints, putting all their anger and hurt and past mistakes out in the open for everyone to see. 

She also places much needed emphasis on an incredibly important part of Amy’s life; the expectation for her to marry wealthy. Ever since her school days, Amy has been tasked with marrying well in order to support her family but the seriousness of this burden truly becomes evident when Meg marries a poor tutor and when Jo refuses Laurie. Again, she is honest about her intentions: she will marry into a well-off family to protect herself and her loved ones.  

She is able to put her personal desires aside in order to achieve her goals. Gerwig’s decision to follow Amy and Aunt March on their trip to Europe allows the audience to not only become aware of but also to appreciate this  fact. As she works on her paintings, she keeps up her appearances at social events and is enthusiastically courted by Fred Vaughn with the intention to marry. Even more, Amy knows how to use her femininity as an advantage as she delights in dressing up and acting ‘like a proper lady’. Her understated “As a Woman” speech incorporates both her practical and sensitive side; 

“And as a woman, there’s no way for me to make my own money. Not enough to earn a living or to support my family, and if I had my own money, which I don’t, that money would belong to my husband the moment we got married. And if we had children, they would be his, not mine. They would be his property, so don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is. It may not be for you, but it most certainly is for me.”

Perhaps the most fantastic part of Gerwig’s interpretation is that the story is no longer only about Jo with her two-dimensional sisters depicted in the background. And so Amy’s often unexpected storyline comes to make more sense instead of being received as a disappointing plot twist. 

We see her growth from a girl to a young woman and are aware of her love for Laurie early on. Gerwig spends many of the flashback scenes hiding little hints about Amy’s crush. The most obvious one being when young Amy is attempting to make a mold of her foot in order to remind Laurie of their perfect shape and size. 

Her maturity is fiercely displayed when Laurie confesses his love, as despite finally being reciprocated she does not settle but demands better of him. And, unlike anyone else, she is actually successful in making Laurie want to improve and achieve something in order to be a fit suitor. 

The nature of their relationship is paralleled in two separate scenes, crafted with great similarity but with key differences. When Laurie confesses to Jo, they begin to argue even before Laurie is able to commence his speech and continue talking over each other like children for the entire scene. On the other hand, when he approaches Amy, they handle the situation like adults, hearing what the other is saying instead of just focusing on their own feelings. 

Perhaps these parts of Amy have been there all along and we just weren’t given the right opportunity to fully notice them. But through careful detail, Gerwig has brought to light an unapologetic, defiant, and passionate young woman with whom everyone is able to resonate. And she managed to do so beautifully. 

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