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The Development of the Hero in Little Women

Louisa May Alcott furnishes a probing look at the hero through recognition of how the imaginary hero of romantic fiction is not always the ideal while bringing the reader to see the heroic in the everyday lives of four young women with the primary emphasis falling on Jo. In the chapter, “Castles in the Air,” as each of the characters envisions the distant future (ten years hence anyway), Jo remarks, “I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle– something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day” (Alcott 133).

As the book progresses, many references are made to show the shallowness that has begun to be associated with the heroic. “. . . Laurie heroically shut his eyes . . .” (Alcott 264). “Fred is not my model hero” (Alcott 294). Finally, Jo focuses the conflict in recognizing the heroic when she reaches the point of realizing that she “preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable” (Alcott 298).

With Jo March, Alcott presents a modern young woman in a day when women were very much relegated to a specific role within the home. From the opening pages of the book, Jo exhibits a unique strength of character that refuses to be molded to the traditional form. She longs to be a boy, primarily because of the opportunities available to the male in society. However, taking her unusual family upbringing and applying it to Jo’s determination to be different creates an individual who is heroic in her strength and courage to stand out in society and her ability to share that quality with othe…

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…he wife and mother. Rather, she insists that she will carry her share and help in the earning of the home as a condition of marriage (Alcott 438).

Jo’s journey to the heroic ultimately leads her to a role where her life is spent in giving herself to others, shaping them to be themselves while still maintaining proper place in the grand scheme of things. Through her characterization, a hero is fully developed as one with the strength of character that allows one to be uniquely different while seeking always to help others in the journey of life by placing them ahead of oneself. Jo’s heroic act that will not be forgotten after she’s dead, only a dream as a young lady, is realized through the lives she touches and the future generations she ultimately affects.

Works Cited

Alcott, Louisa. Little Women. Intro. Ann Douglas. NY: Signet Classic, 1983.

All Quiet on the Western Front Essays: Catalyst for Change

All Quiet on the Western Front: Catalyst for Change

All Quiet on the Western Front is a book written by Erich Maria Remarque. It was a book written to reflect the human cost of war. It shows us how war has a hidden face that most people do not see until it is too late. In the novel, he describes a group of young men who at first think war is glorious. But as the war drags on, the group discovers how war is not all it is set out to be. As the war went on, they saw their friends either die or be permanently wounded. Then the end comes when there was only one person left.

All Quiet on the Western Front takes place in Germany where a group of young boys are first encouraged to join the military. Thinking that it would be a great adventure, they enlisted, not knowing the fate that lies before them. At first, the group is sent to training. They aren’t in a serious mood, thinking that war conditions aren’t as bad as they really are. When the boys are sent to the front, it is only then when they start to realize how war is not great. This is when the boys are cramped into the trenches. Some of the soldiers were shell-shocked because of the constant bombardment. When one of the boys was wounded, he was taken to a hospital where there were many wounded soldiers. Some soldiers had to have parts of their bodies amputated in order to survive. When Kemmerich was in the hospital, Müller asked for his pair of boots. The boots was a visible reminder to the boys of the cost of war. Paul then has to face his own conscience when he kills one of the Frenchmen. He doesn’t see the face of an enemy but just a face of another human being. He tries to comfort himself by promising to help the fallen soldier’s family. After Paul is relieved from the front line, he decides to go on leave and return home. But when he tries to tell every one of the horrible conditions of the trenches, everybody either laughs him off or calls him a coward. Paul returns before his leave actually ended, wishing that he had never come home. In the end, when Paul loses Kat, Paul realizes that the war has destroyed his way of life.

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