Classic Quotes from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) is best known as the author of Little Women and its sequels, including Jo’s Boys and Little Men, though the scope of her work goes far beyond these beloved books. 

In 1868, Louisa’s publisher offhandedly asked that she try writing a “girls’ story” for their list. Thinking little of the request, she cranked it out in two and a half months, though her heart wasn’t in it. Neither she nor her publisher thought it was in any way remarkable. 

In addition to her literary pursuits, Louisa May Alcott was also known for promoting women’s rights and campaigning for women’s suffrage. Her views came through in the dialog between her characters. Here are quotes from Little Women that remind us why we keep returning to the classic novel, time and again:

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“I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”

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“Love is a great beautifier.”

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“You have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?”

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“Take some books and read; that’s an immense help; and books are always good company if you have the right kind.”

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“My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom.

His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.”

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You might also like: Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War Journals

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“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

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“… for love casts out fear, and gratitude can conquer pride.”

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“I want to do something splendid … 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 someday.”

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“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”

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“I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen”

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“I’d rather take coffee than compliments right now.”

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“I want to do something splendid… Something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead… I think I shall write books.”

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Little Women

See also: How Louisa May Alcott Came To Write Little Women

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“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”

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“Don’t try and make me grow up before my time … ”

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“I find it poor logic to say that because women are good, women should vote. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are male, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country.”

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“Love Jo all your days, if you choose, but don’t let it spoil you, for it’s wicked to throw away so many good gifts because you can’t have the one you want.”

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“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

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“Don’t laugh at the spinsters, dear girls, for often very tender, tragic romances are hidden away in the hearts that beat so quietly under the sober gowns, and many silent sacrifices of youth, health, ambition, love itself, make the faded faces beautiful in God’s sight. Even the sad, sour sisters should be kindly dealt with, because they have missed the sweetest part of life, if for no other reason.”

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“Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow…”

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“There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.”

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Louisa May Alcott 1862

You might also enjoy: Wisdom From Louisa May Alcott

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“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.”

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“You don’t need scores of suitors. You need only one … if he’s the right one.”

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“Be worthy love, and love will come.”

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“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”

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“I don’t pretend to be wise, but I am observing, and I see a great deal more than you’d imagine. I’m interested in other people’s experiences and inconsistencies, and, though I can’t explain, I remember and use them for my own benefit.”

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“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.”

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
See also: 10 Writers Who Were Inspired by Jo March

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“Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say no when they mean yes, and drive a man out of his wits just for the fun of it.”

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“Wouldn’t it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?”

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“A quick temper, sharp tongue, and restless spirit were always getting her into scrapes, and her life was a series of ups and downs, which were both comic and pathetic.”

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“Jo had learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally…”

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“Gentlemen, be courteous to the old maids, no matter how poor and plain and prim, for the only chivalry worth having is that which is the readiest to to pay deference to the old, protect the feeble, and serve womankind, regardless of rank, age, or color.”

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“…and Jo laid the rustling sheets together with a careful hand, as one might shut the covers of a lovely romance, which holds the reader fast till the end comes, and he finds himself alone in the work-a-day world again.”

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Illustrations for Little Women by Jessie Wilcox Smith

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