Graduation Year


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Faculty Advisor

Kristen Carella


In this thesis, I will argue that Little Women was heavily influenced by Alcott’s mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson’s influence impacted Alcott’s life and writing in two main ways. First, growing up in Concord, surrounded by the influence of well-known Transcendentalist writers and under the mentorship of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Alcott was heavily influenced by his work and the ideals of the transcendentalist movement. The ideas of Transcendentalism that Emerson made popular and wrote about in his pieces such as “Nature” and speeches like “Women” and “The American Scholar” appear in Little Women. Second, Alcott was also heavily influenced by Emerson’s writing style, predominantly from his poetry, which appears in her writing in the novel. Little Women was the best performing work of Alcott’s career after she had spent many years studying under Emerson. The novel was ahead of its time in its representation of women and feminism based on Emerson’s ideals that Alcott put into her own words, and these themes continue to stay relevant today. In what follows, I will explore both types of influence.