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The Absent Male in Little Women No gentlemen were admitted writes Louisa May Alcott in Little Women to describe the all-female private revue the March sisters perform And as the novel progresses one cannot help but wonder if this same sentiment does indeed echo throughout the novel as male characters are conspicuously absent while all the pivotal parts are played by the women characters This gender imbalance -- in that there are more female characters than male in Little Women -- is especially obvious when male authority figures such as Mr March and Mr Lawrence are markedly absent for most of the novel When they do appear they are in need of love and care from the women Mr Lawrence who is nursing a broken heart over the death of his daughter is healed by Beths gentle manners while Mr Marchs broken constitution is nursed back to health by his loving wife and daughters The only male character who appears prominently in Little Women is Laurie who although the richest and most eligible bachelor for miles is drawn to the motherly smile and warmth of the little cottage despite the luxuries of his mansion next door John Brooke Lauries tutor and Megs husband too is drawn to the homey atmosphere of the March residence having recently lost his mother In a bold move that differentiates Alcott from her contemporaries the male characters in Little Women are all not capable of providing sustenance to their womenfolk as they are incapacitated either by a war injury an emotional scar or an impoverished background The women are thus forced to take on varied roles in order to provide materially and emotionally for the family They are the ones who shoulder the burden in situations not unlike those of the Alcott family
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