Jo March and Adaptive Attractiveness

Niina Pekantytär

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Discussion between Little Women researchers Niina Niskanen and Christina Scott.

Christina: If we truly 100% believe that Jo is the author´s avatar they are supposed to be the same. It´s funny that back then people said that Alcott is not attractive and I would look at her picture and I´m like "Oh what? she was very attractive and I think people don´t understand that when they think of things. It´s like in the earlier podcast when you said that the actress who plays Jo in the modern-day version in 2018 one they are like "she is not enough pretty to be with Friedrich" and I´m like for one I think that actress is attractive but also like you are missing the point. 

Niina: They said the same to Katherine Hepburn that she was too boyish and Jo is written to be boyish. 

Christina: I think people don´t fully understand that it is also depending on the time period because someone made parallels to Jo and Lizzie Bennett. They always say that Lizzie is not attractive. I remember when I got my mom to watch the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice and we were listening to how Mrs Bennett was saying "Oh Jane is the prettiest of my daughters" and my mom was like "I think Lizzie is quite pretty" and I´m like "yeah, but you got to remember that back then the typical norm of what is pretty is to be fair-skinned, fair-haired, blue-eyed, be on the lighter tone of things rather than the sort of darker hair, darker eyed or even darker-skinned. I think that people don´t always understand what we would think as attractive now was not attractive back then. In regardless, whether they really are attractive or not, but it is amazing how some fans would be like "they are too pretty to play this part" and others are like "they are not pretty enough to play this" and it´s past the point of the story being that it is meant to be about these two people who have good chemistry together and they make it work. One of my teachers when I was in college, I think it was Cleopatra and Anthony she had seed in a play or something of that kind and she was like "I couldn´t believe it because the actors were not attractive at all" and I was like "does that matter?". That was probably one of those moments I was slowly realizing that I was a demisexual, what does that matter? shouldn´t it be what the chemistry between the two people are? but it is amazing how people are so focused on what is physically attractive that somehow equals a romantic attraction versus being like how two people connect that leads to romantic attraction.

Niina: Yeah, well that is the Laurie fans. Well..many of them. That is not really a reason to be with somebody. Only if you just want to hook up. Jo doesn´t want to hook up with him. 

Christina: In one of my posts that I made years ago about why Jo shouldn´t be with Laurie I made a mention of, how almost hypocritical it is that people say these things about Jo and Friedrich but there are a lot of parallels between situations, not fully, but it looks like it from the outside, of Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester. People make comments like "the age gap is not right" or "they are not attractive, how could they fall in love" and it´s like.. well there is an age gap between Jane and Mr Rochester and in the novel, only one of them seems to be conventionally attractive. Many of those same people will go "Oh I love Jane and Rochester" they were so romantic and it´s like "pardon me" it´s amazing how people can choose between what they want to like and what they don´t want to like. 

Niina: When I was doing research on Henry David Thoreau and I came to this part where it was mentioned that Henry didn´t like traditional women or that he had resentment to overly feminine women I was like "damn Louisa would have been perfect for him". There is speculation that they had an affair. I don´t know if that is true but he would have been perfect for her at least in that sense because she wasn´t traditional and she also kind of rejected some parts of femininity. Henry and Louisa, I was so happy when I found out about all the real-life Friedrich´s and the real-life Laurie´s.

Niina: Little Women made a lot more sense when I found out about it. Especially the story about Laddie, because I think one of the reasons why Louisa liked to hang out with him, it´s almost like she always wanted to have somebody there that she could take care of. Was it than her sister, or when she worked in the war as a nurse, and then she took care of Laddie because he had tuberculosis. You can see that Louisa had this very maternal side that she liked to take care of people.

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

Finland, MN
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