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Originally published at: yourtango.com
After seeing the new Little Women movie over the past few months, women from around the world have asked each other, ‘Who do you think that I am? A Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy?’ Nominated for six Oscars, and the winner of one, Greta Gerwig’s beautiful film has warmed the hearts of many and inspired women to continue striving for their professional and relationship goals with kindness, love, and perseverance.
The answer to the above question could play an important role as you discern the right man for you. All men, and women, have their strengths, and drawbacks, and part of my role as a personal Matchmaker at Matchmakers In The City lies in helping people discover their true selves and top priorities while dating and selecting their future mate. Louisa May Alcott, the author of the novel Little Women published in 1868, drew her characters from her own life, which allows readers and audiences of any time period to relate with them. Of course, all women possess countless layers and defy labels, but have a little fun, and see if you can glean some tips for your love life along the way. You may find yourself identifying with more than one sister, but choose your dominant one!
Meg, the motherly Leading Lady
Romantic and sentimental, Meg struggles with her love of beautiful gowns and her desire to give of herself to others. She enjoys expressing her femininity through dressing up and attending balls, however she ultimately chooses love over money. She has a strong moral compass and profound love of truth that prevents her from getting too caught up with the superficial life that she finds herself drawn to frequently. As the oldest sister, she teaches her younger sisters proper etiquette and chastises them when needed.
Jo calls Meg “the best actress” in the family, and Meg shines in the numerous parts that she performs in their family productions. She ultimately falls in love with their neighbor Laurie’s tutor, an intelligent and charitable family man, who lacks a large income but prizes what Meg does most, faith and family. John Brooke proves his devotion to the March family through accompanying Mrs. March from Massachusetts to Washington, DC for a few months to care for her husband, who falls ill during the Civil War. Brooke allows Meg to shine with his quiet strength.
Match suggestions: A goodhearted, hard-working, romantic, and intelligent man who prefers life behind the scenes. His good looks, masculinity, self-sacrificial choices, and provider mentality work well for Meg.
Josephine (Jo), the Girl Boss
Jo reminds me of many of the Bachelorettes who we work with: dedicated to their families, ambitious, and passionate. Jo attempts to take the place of her father when he serves the North during the Civil War and struggles with accepting her own vulnerable side. She has trouble controlling her emotions and receives help from her mother to quell her angry impulses. She has an easier time exercising her masculinity and uses it as a shield for her deep and tender feelings. For instance, she sits behind her sisters when her mother reads a letter from their father in order to hide her tears from them. She wants to remain strong for the family.
Imaginative and passionate, Jo needs the stimulation of an intelligent and driven man who she admires to inspire her affections. She loves Laurie as a friend, but his lack of an intellectual drive upsets the possibility of a romantic connection. Also, Jo’s mother reflects that Jo and Laurie share too much of the same choleric temperament for a peaceful marriage. In the end, Jo marries hard-working, German professor Friedrich Bhaer who, though only possessing meager means, has earning potential, and most of all challenges her to grow both spiritually and professionally.
Match suggestions: The different adaptations of Little Women have all portrayed Mr. Bhaer in contrasting ways. In the novel, Jo describes Bhaer as “rather stout . . . and he hadn’t a really handsome feature in his face.” Similarly, in the Winona Ryder movie version from 1994, Jo thwarts Christian Bale’s dreamy Laurie for a middle-aged, graying professor. During the new movie, Laurie looks like a teenager, skinnier and more like the seventeen-year-old near the beginning of the novel. Gerwig contrasts him with the strapping, tall, dark, and handsome professor who Jo ultimately chooses and with whom few women would pass up a date. Clearly, both movies dealt with the difficult multi-year time period lapse from the book with opposite casting choices. However, one thread runs through these interpretations: Jo cares the least about money. A man who wants to marry a woman like Jo must inspire her heart and soul.
Beth, the Musical Princess
The narrator underscores that Beth, although angelic, still possesses the traits of a normal young girl with wants and disappointments. A wonderful foil to Jo, Beth connects most with Jo’s vivacious personality. While timid and shy, Beth expresses her compassion through music, both in singing and playing the piano. Beth enjoys accompanying her sisters while allowing them to take the spotlight. Her illness ends up taking her life, but she leaves a saintly example of goodness and humble holiness for all who know her.
Match suggestions: Beth, unlike her sisters, would match well with a man who basks in the limelight as the star of the show. I call these men the ‘twenty-percenters’ after Dr. Gregory Popcak’s definition of how only twenty percent of men naturally possess gregarious charisma and charm. Most women think that they want this kind of man, but few can succeed and enjoy a long-term relationship with one. As a nurturer, Beth would act as an ideal wife for a doctor, lawyer, ‘Alpha male,’ the lead singer of a band, lead guitarist, or an actor. On the other hand, quite content with her simple life, she could eschew marriage altogether and join a convent as a nun!
Amy, the Pragmatic Artist
By the world’s standards, Amy is the only sister who seems to have her head screwed on straight. She understands the importance of money for the kind of life that she wants to live as a gentlewoman artist and marries a man who can fund that lifestyle. Although tempted to accept the proposal of a wealthy, high status man who had failed to capture her heart, she marries for money, and love.
Laurie has an affluent background, but his true passion initially lies in music and appreciating the dynamic March family. With her vibrant personality and beauty that increases as she matures, Amy enthralls Laurie and encourages him to push past his laziness and discover his potential. While still friends with Amy, Laurie explores his musical talents, but ends up realizing that he would rather put his energy towards a career that can support a family. He learns that his love for music compares well to his boyish love for Jo, still part of his life, but able to make way for his true calling. He emerges from his trip to Europe ready to embrace the romance of a woman who returns his love and begin a stable job that can more easily sustain a family.
Match suggestions: A handsome, generous, and kind man with means works well for Amy. A Matchmaker’s special note: Gerwig’s movie shows Laurie making a drunken spectacle at a ball that he and Amy attend in Europe, which the book entirely lacks. In the book, Amy inspires Laurie, but she is anything but a missionary dater who cures him from dangerous habits. Instead, Amy and Laurie’s fun-loving, strong, and romantic personalities allow them to develop a mutually supportive relationship that edifies one another.
Despite my, at times, starkly different match suggestions and dating advice for each March sister, the men who Alcott creates open themselves to commitment, growth, and change. In this way, they honor the woman whom they have chosen. They show their love through proposing marriage to the sisters, rather than manipulating them to fulfill their baser desires first. Mr. and Mrs. March did a praiseworthy job raising their daughters to appreciate a man’s internal qualities rather than getting swept away by looks, money, or charm. In fact, the parents forbade one such superficial college boy from visiting Meg while she lived with them. While you may relate most with one sister, all women have a little bit of each one inside of them that helps them to face life’s challenges with courage and grace.