In the joyous new trailer for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, forward-thinking, feminist Jo March (played by Saoirse Ronan) makes an impassioned plea for women’s equality: “Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as beauty, and I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it!”
It’s a quote taken almost word for word from one of Louisa May Alcott’s books. The catch? That book is not Little Women.
Gerwig plucked that line from one of Alcott’s other, later novels, Rose in Bloom, the sequel to Eight Cousins. Both revolve around Rose Campbell, a young orphan who goes to live with her relatives and finds herself the only girl among her seven male cousins. Here she is arguing with one of them in Rose in Bloom, after she has matured into a spirited young woman:
“I mean what I say, and you cannot laugh me down. Would you be contented to be told to enjoy yourself for a little while, then marry and do nothing more till you die?” she added, turning to Archie.
“Of course not: that is only a part of a man’s life,” he answered decidedly.
“A very precious and lovely part, but not all,” continued Rose. “Neither should it be for a woman: for we’ve got minds and souls as well as hearts; ambition and talents as well as beauty and accomplishments; and we want to live and learn as well as love and be loved. I’m sick of being told that is all a woman is fit for! I won’t have anything to do with love till I prove that I am something besides a housekeeper and baby-tender!”
I’m sure Rose wouldn’t mind lending the quote to Jo in the name of sisterhood. But perhaps this can serve as a reminder to filmmakers that Little Women is not Alcott’s only novel worth their time. Don’t get me wrong: I’m as excited for Gerwig’s take on it as the next Lady Bird fan, but there are also plenty of lesser-known works by Alcott—ones that haven’t already been adapted to death—waiting on the shelf.