Friday, March 23, 2012

48. Let your light shine so that others may see the good that you do and praise your father in Heaven. Matthew 5:16

Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?
Benjamin Franklin

For weeks you researched Louisa May Alcott. You read everything she wrote that we could find. You read everything the library had to offer that was written about her - from biographies to diaries. We watched Little Women and Little Men after you completed the books.

You were fascinated - with this woman who, "in a time when women were to be seen and not heard, gave women a voice." 

Today, I share your final paper - I am so PROUD of you - proud of not only the writer you have become, but the the poise and character with which you presented this paper. 

Inspired Voices
            Women of the 1800s had very few rights. They were expected to be seen, not heard. Their main purpose was to do housework. Louisa May Alcott’s family lived during the time of the Civil War. This was a time of great unrest in our country. The Alcott family was against slavery. They felt that all people should be allowed to live freely and be educated. In addition to advocating for rights for African Americans, Louisa May Alcott also felt that women should have the same rights as men. In a time where women could not even vote, Louisa May Alcott gave women a voice. She inspired women everywhere to tell their story by becoming writers.
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832 to Bronson and Abigail May Alcott. She was very lively even as a baby.  She loved to be on the go, which is a good thing since the Alcott family moved 29 times during the first 28 years of her life. Louisa May Alcott was very generous. One of her most memorable lessons was during her fourth birthday party where she was allowed to pass out the little plum cakes she made for the party. She knew if she took one for herself, one of the other children would not get one. So, she unselfishly gave one to her friend as she was taught to always be giving. Louisa May Alcott also was very creative. As a child she enjoyed sewing and reading. She loved to play with the books in her father’s study – building forts, pretending to read until she learned how, or scribbling on blank pages. Curiously, she often got lost in the adventures and scenes from her favorite poems and stories such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Louisa May Alcott was not all flowers and lace for she was a tomboy at heart. "No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race," she claimed, "and no girl if she refused to climb trees.”
            Education was very important to the Alcott family. Louisa May Alcott’s father, Bronson, who was a philosopher and a teacher, taught his children the importance of equality for everyone and unlike many in his time believed that slavery was wrong. He felt all people should be allowed to be educated. One of her father’s favorite texts that he typically read to her was Pilgrim’s Progress.  Alcott was homeschooled by her father focusing largely on reading and writing. He introduced her to a new range of wonderful authors. As a young adult, she moved by herself to Boston to try to find work. Almost as soon as she found her first job, her sister, Beth, got very sick. She rushed home to be with her sister as soon she got the news. Shortly after she got there, Beth died. During this time, the Civil War began, and she found work as a nurse. Unfortunately, her career as a nurse was short as she became sick and had to return home. This was a sad time for the patients for they loved her very much.
While Louisa May Alcott, who was very loving, enjoyed her family, she also liked to be alone. She placed her desk by the window so she could look out into the garden as she wrote. She loved to write, but she had no idea that she would eventually write a famous novel. Alcott enjoyed writing. She created brilliant dramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends and family. She incorporated writing into all aspects of her life. While she was nurse, she wrote Hospital Sketches about her times in the hospital so that the people who read them would know of the happy times. During her days as a teacher, she wrote Flower Fables which she read to one of her students to entertain her. As her father was working, he found one of her Flower Fables. Joyfully, he sent it to a publisher who later published it. This was the beginning of her career. She would later write one of her most famous works, Little Women, which is about her childhood. Throughout her career, she published over 30 books and short story collections.
People were very curious about whether the story of Little Women was true or a work of fiction. Louisa May Alcott was invited to speak at many events, including schools. Children were specifically interested in the more silly elements of the story such as the lively pillow fights between the sisters and their father. She received many letters from adults and children alike, curious about the details of the story. Louisa May Alcott, who diligently answered the letters, assured her readers that most of the things she wrote about were true. Her stories were easy to relate to as people could feel emotions from the sadness of Beth’s death to the joy of Meg’s marriage. Louisa May Alcott had always generously dreamed of making her family feel comfortable by being able to provide for them by earning money through writing. She was able to provide them with luxuries that gave her great joy. Through time, the story of Little Women is enjoyed everywhere as a timeless classic because it is about a real family. Amazingly even today, readers can still relate to the themes of the story.
Once you are inspired, you can do anything. Some say writers are born not made, but once the magnificent Louisa May Alcott was inspired in her writing, she could have done anything. Ultimately, her education and loyalty to family and friends helped her get the inspiration she needed to write Little Women. She could have written fantastic fairytales or adventure stories, science fiction or nonfiction. You can write too, once you are inspired.

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