Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Louisa May Alcott & Her Little Women

Apart from the opening lines of Dickens' Tale of Two Cities ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....."), the only first lines of a novel I have engraved upon my memory are:
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

"It's so dreadful to be poor!" sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

"I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all," added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

I received Little Women as a gift one Christmas long ago. After reading it with much delight I sought out its sequels Good Wives, Little Men, and Jo's Boys. Louisa May Alcott wrote much else, but these books brought her international fame. I've read the books, several times, seen all versions of the movies based on them, and in my first few weeks of blogging I wrote about Ms Alcott and her Little Women. I've fished out my old post, polished it up and here it is, refreshed and revived:

Louisa May was one of four daughters of transcendentalist and teacher Bronson Alcott, and Abigail, his wife, a vocal proponent of women's rights. They settled in Concord just outside of Boston. Louisa May and her sisters were educated mainly by their father. They were often in company of his friends who included such luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and other literary figures, all of whom lived nearby. The Alcott family was not materially prosperous however, the children grew up in basic poverty, but surrounded by intellectual richness.

Young Louisa began writing early, first for her sisters, in the form of poems or plays which they would perform. She was forced to take any kind of work available for a few years in order to help the family finances, but she continued writing short stories and poems which were published in popular magazines. At age 22 her first book, "Flower Fables" was published . It was not until age 35 that she wrote "Little Women". The tale is partly autobiographical, drawing broadly from the experiences of herself and her sisters during childhood. At least 30 of her books were published, "Little Women" has never been out of print.

Louisa never married. In later life she became an advocate of women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, MA. Her health had been permanently damaged when serving for a short spell as a Civil War nurse. Louisa contracted typhoid fever, she recovered but suffered the poisoning effects of mercury from a drug used at that time to cure the disease . Her health failed gradually, she died, aged 56, two days after her father had passed away. Interestingly her father was born in 1799, on the same day and month as Louisa May - 29 November.

So, does Louisa May Alcott's astrology fit? Born 29 November 1832 in Germantown, Pennsylvania at 12.30AM (Astrodatabank).

Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius with 19 degrees between them. Sagittarius is the sign of philosophers and free thinkers. It has been said that Louisa May, though surrounded by transcendentalist philosophies in her young life, did not ascribe to them herself - she followed her own free-thinking, possibly fuelled by her Moon and Uranus in Aquarius.

Saturn is in Virgo, squaring Mercury within 2 minutes of arc - the writer's Saturnian link: discipline and structure.

There is a Grand Trine in Earth linking Mars in Taurus, Saturn in Virgo and Neptune in Capricorn. I believe that this accounts for Louisa May's determination to provide for her poverty stricken family, which she continued to do throughout her lifetime. If she had any ambition or inclination to write worthy intellectual tomes, she decided to forego it in favour of writing what she was sure would sell and provide for her loved ones.

Jupiter, the publishing planet and traditional ruler of Pisces, lies strong in that sign, it squares Louisa's Mercury in Sagittarius, and opposes Saturn in Virgo, producing dynamic energy between the writing and publishing planets.

Pluto in Aries trines her Sagittarian Sun, but exactly squares her Venus in Capricorn. Perhaps while powerful Pluto may have aided her deepest ambitions, did the powerful, if diminutive, planet place an obstacle to her love life ?

She is quoted as having said "I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls, never once, the least bit, with any man". Whereas nowadays that statement might be thought to imply a certain sexual orientation, in the 19th century I very much doubt that was the case.

My longtime interest in astrology inspired me, when much younger, to try to categorise the sisters in Little Women according to their archetypes. I decided that Jo, who I'm sure was Louisa's alter ego had to represent Aquarius (reflection of her Moon). Meg, the homemaker seemed to me to depict Taurus (Cancer would fit well too though). Amy, the spoiled, vain sister was typically Leo. Beth the gentle one fitted Pisces well, I thought. However, after I'd posted the original of this piece, in December 2006, astrologer April Elliot Kent of Big Sky Astrology
commented as follows, with an alternative, and probably more accurate view.

April said...
Thanks for a fine post about the author of one of my favorite books! But I must object: Amy didn't have the fiery spunk of a Leo! (Well, perhaps I'm biased, being a Leo myself.) I'm thinking she had to be a Libra with all her paintbrushes and that fine sucking-up ability. And Jo was such a Sag to me (the character even says she was born in November!) - but had to have Mercury in Scorpio with that temper of hers. But yes, let's give her an Aquarius Moon!

December 15, 2006 12:37 PM
Twilight said... Thanks, April!

Sag. was my second choice for Jo, Aquarius (my own prejudice) was decided more on the content of the sequel books I guess, on her disinterest in marriage, and general obtuse-ness. lol! I'd forgotten about her birthday having been mentioned.

You're probably right about Amy, too. Libra would better fit her arty side.
That clothes peg got me though !!
If LW were set in today's world Amy would be at the head of the queue at the plastic surgeon's office! :-)

Thinking about this again now, I reckon additional Aquarius flavour in the novels comes from Prof. Bhaer, who Jo eventually married, her Aquarius Moon and his Aquarius Sun would be a good combination.


Anonymous said...

cant you talk about tiger wood's affair with other women? like murder astrolgy .... you blog is good for PG rated...

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~~ Tiger Wood's affairs is none of my, your or anyone else's business except his wife's and his. Murder isn't my cup of tea....So now - you'll know to avoid this blog in future if it's not to your taste, won't you?

anyjazz said...

That's telling her. Miss Anonymouse is always so brave.

You choose your subjects carefully, I know. I am glad you don't write about the current scandals, any of them. They're always boring and as you say, none of our business. Let the yellow journalists handle that department. They have no scruples.

Mokihana and Pete said...

This was a delicious read for a "Happy Bodhi Day" ... perhaps Buddha would not have read the work of Louisa May but this was a wonderfully unexpected astrological characterizing. Piecing together the sisters and the signs was as good as having tea with good friends.

How enjoyable! Oh, and yes, I love the PG rating of your good words and much prefer them to digging up dirt in another's garden.


Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Yep. Seen one, seen 'em all. As you say - boring! Thanks for the support ;-)

Twilight said...

Mokihana & Pete
Hello! Thank you for visiting and for your very kind comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

Speranza said...

Hiya, I've come to this late, having just been researching Louisa for an evening class presentation. I had been writing about astrology (interested amateur, not that knowledgeable!) and it occurred to me that Jo might have had a Sag moon - although if she had a Sag sun then I guess that would explain the traits I'd spotted...

I'm not sure Beth was emotional enough for a PIsces though - wouldn't she have made a good Virgo with her perpetual virginity, archetyupal housekeeping, painful shyness and love of good works?

I recently completed a novel and although I had sun signs in mind, I didn't look up the charts for my chracters till after I'd finished, and it was amazing how they fitted the people I'd descrobed. I find this is a really helpful use of astrology, though I doubt Louisa was into it!

Someone asked me if she was familiar with Austen. I can't find any trace of this but it's true there are great similarities between the Marches and the Bennetts. Does anybody know any more about this?

I spotted online that there is a new docudrama out in the States about LMA, I hope to see it one day.

Twilight said...

Speranza ~~~ hi there, and thank you for your interesting comment.

This is a topic which continually
fascinates me - in the books I've read recently I've been noticing how easy it is to spot astrological "types", true to the letter almost as though the author was into astrology - though that's unlikely. :-)

Re Beth and Pices versus Virgo - I'd still go for Pisces predominant as shyness and good works, for me, fit Pisces better than nit-picking Virgo - though I do see what you mean. I think Beth was too "soft" a person to be Virgoan though.

I hadn't thought of comparing Austen and Louisa - oddly enough I'm no great fan of Jane Austen's writing. I'll give that some thought though.

Anonymous said...

I think Jo's more of an Aquarius, since she always has been odd and eccentric. She's also never been interested in marriage, and has always seen Laurie as nothing but a friend (Aquarius is the sign of friendship). She might have a Sagittarius moon, though. I also always thought Laurie was a Libra. He loved beauty, and he seemed to be quite romantic. And he seemed to always be a diplomat type.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Jo definitely must have had Aquarius strong in some way in her natal chart, I agree. :-)