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Shining Light on Why Jo and Laurie Don't End up Together

Niina is an Alcott researcher and the host of the Little Women Podcast.


The Novel

The complete lack of Laurie's character evolution and failure to portray him as a whole individual is a problem in the majority of Little Women adaptations. Before Laurie moves to Concord in the book, he has been shuffled from one boarding school to another in Europe. He then moves to live with his grandfather, and the two of them must build their relationship from scratch. Since Laurie's parent's marriage was rejected by an older Mr Lawrence, Laurie felt unwanted from the start, which is why he develops such a strong attachment to the Marches. He is attached to Jo and refers Marmee as his mother.

Laurie believed he could get away with anything because of Jo's idealization of the masculine. Laurie is compared to a weathercock by Hannah. He is a character whose emotions fluctuate constantly. Although he can be sensitive, he also has a short temper. This is something that the movies keep erasing. He can be extremely insensitive to other people's sentiments (much like Jo), as evidenced by the time he catfished Meg and fabricated letters in his tutor's name. Laurie can be kind and sensitive, when he puts others before himself, like when beth was ill and when he visited Amy to cheer her up while she was staying with aunt March.

Amy and Laurie Romance (Versus Film Makers Jo and Laurie Obsession)

Laurie and his grandfather

Laurie can be as conceited as a peacock. He enjoys dressing nicely and maintaining a presentable appearance, which Jo occasionally makes fun of. He has a fun side, but he's also quite irresponsible. He wants to stand up against his grandfather's obedience, but he is hesitant to do so. Laurie's parents are gone. The difficult bond with his grandfather is evident. Laurie resembles the children he lost is what makes him avoid listening to music since it brings back painful memories and, I presume, self-blame.

Only after his interactions with Beth have these wounds begin to heal. The school doesn't appeal to Laurie. This is a facet of him that is seldom ever depicted in the adaptations—he wants to move to Italy, become a musician, and reconnect with his roots. The connection between Laurie's love of music, his temper, and his brown skin is due to his Italian ancestry. This does not sit well with Jo, because she loves learning and education, which is probably why she was drawn to Friedrich's intellectualism.

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Laurie and His Music

The only adaptations in which Laurie actually plays the piano are the 2017 miniseries and the series from the 1970s (you can also hear him playing in the 1994 film). Friedrich does sing and plays music in the books, and he also is very musical in the movies, but given that Laurie is a composer, it is odd that there are so few adaptations in which he actually plays the piano. He hasn't been given a full personality in any of the films, instead, the movies romanticize him and Jo.

According to the Hollywood narrative, Laurie only exists because he is attractive and in love with Jo; he has no other goals in life. While the adaptations attempt to do this, by not focusing on Laurie's arc, they really follow the traditional romance cliché and not the unconventional story that Alcott created. The plot of the novel is unconventional since it flips the conventional romance trope.

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Book Jo and Laurie Are Pranksters

Book Jo and Laurie are prankster brothers. They liked to make jokes and prank people. Their interactions especially when they are teen agers is similar to Fred and George Weasley in Harry Potter books.

When John and Meg first move into their new home in Good Wives, Laurie shows up with gifts, including a knife cleaner that ruins all the blades, soap that removes the skin from one's hands, a sweeper that leaves all the dirt, and numerous other such goods. When Laurie is on break from college each week, he gives them strange worthless items. For the first few times, it can be an amusing joke, but Laurie continues to tell it for months. It's the behaviour you might anticipate from a teenager rather than a 21-year-old.

John and Meg don't have much money, Laurie has money. He could provide them with things that actually helped. None of Laurie's tricks is depicted in the films. In part 2 of Little Women, there is a moment when Laurie is flirting with feminine girls, then he turns to Jo and he and Jo together badmouth these girls. They fed each other with ideas of toxic masculinity.

The Real Life Laurie's

In the novel, Laurie is written to be a couple of months older than Jo, but he is actually based on men who were a lot younger than Louisa May Alcott. They were Alcott's good friend Alf Whitman and Ladislas Wisniewski, a young composer who she met in Switzerland. She was a very maternal person and had a maternal relationship with these young men. Same way as Jo always calls Laurie the "first boy she ever raised".

Friedrich is based on older men in Alcott's life, especially on philosopher Henry David Thoreau, who she referred to as "the perfect man". In her journal Alcott even wrote about her desire to start a school for boys.

Fair Use

All images included in this article constitute a 'fair use' of any copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright law, which allows for criticism, comment and scholarship.

© 2022 Niina Pekantytar

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