Little Women: Jo´s and Laurie´s Relationship

Niina Pekantytär

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Hi Niina. I love listening to your podcast. I know this is not a topic you speak about very often but I am curious to know what are your thoughts on Jo and Laurie fans and do you think the large number of them is more of a result of a bad interpretation of the novel or the overly romanticised film versions or both?

An excellent question. To my experience lot of Jo and Laurie fans have a very strong denial mentality. I can give you an example. Once I was having a discussion with someone. I said that I really didn´t like the way Laurie was minimizing Jo´s writing in the novel and this person said that they can´t remember any scenes from the book where Laurie would dislike Jo´s writing. So I took screenshots of the scenes in the book where Laurie is minimizing and making fun of Jo´s writings and this person blocked me. To me, it is difficult to have discussions with Jo and Laurie shippers because when you point out things in the novel they close their eyes and ears and are like “I don´t want to hear that I don´t want to see that”. If you listen to my channel, then you know that I love to discuss the novel. In my experience, they don´t read part 2. They romanticise part 1 and they skip over the scenes where Laurie and Jo as well are shown in a more critical light, like in the chapter where Laurie is imposing as John and is catfishing Meg and those things are never in the films.

So to answer your question, I think there are lots of Jo and Laurie fans who are very aware of the more problematic aspects of Jo´s and Laurie´s relationship in the novel but because the films romanticise them so much it is very difficult for some to let go of that and this is why I think the filmmakers make a HUGE disservice to the book and to the public because year after year after year they keep erasing these toxic elements of their relationship, so the viewer never finds out the real reason why Jo dumps him.

Here is a quote from a discussion I had with Cara who is a fellow Little Women fan.

“There are so many men like Laurie in romantic movies. Guys that are constantly bullshitting or hurting someone ends up with the girl and we are rooting for them because they are Oh So pretty. Take Ryan Gosling in the Notebook. He threatens his love interest by killing himself by jumping off the Ferris wheel if she doesn´t go on a date with him. Incredible Werther moment. We see it as a grand gesture and a sign of love because that guy is played by Ryan Gosling. If the role would be played by an unattractive actor we would view his actions much differently”.

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“I always ask myself if the screenwriters and actors did read the book or only saw the adaptations because if so they wouldn´t be that biased I think or they really think love interest in Jo´s age would be more contemporary or rather that they like this young blooming love growing into something bigger -trope but are they really people attracted to stupidity? I mean I know a lot of people that don´t care how well-read or intellectual their significant other is but it´s usually people that aren´t well-read either and focus on different things”.

Laurie can be productive and smart when he wants to but he also says that he went to college to please his grandfather and Jo, but he is not interested in academics, the same way as Jo and Friedrich are and he is not interested to work.

In my evolution of Laurie essay, I quoted a lady who had written an article called “Laurie is a nice guy” where they wrote how they used to love Jo and Laurie together but when they got older it began to bother them how he was harrasing her and tried to manipulate Jo to be with him. In the 19th century, there were many Jo and Laurie fans because no one was questioning his behaviour. Except Louisa May Alcott herself in the novel. I think Jo and Laurie's fans are mostly doctored by the films. If the films would include all the messed up things that Laurie does in the novel and how bad influence Jo and Laurie have on each other no one in their right mind would think they are a good couple. They would also be a lot more favourable towards Fritz if the films would include the part in the books where Jo is having a literal meltdown because she doesn´t want to write sensationalism and Friedrich supports her pushing her in the direction she wants to go.

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Folklorist and historian. Alcott essayist. A host of the Little Women Podcast.

Finland, MN
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