Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beth March: A Guest Post by Olivia

Beth March
by Olivia (Arwen)

Hello, people! 

I'd like to talk about my favorite character from Little Women:  Beth.  (Of course, her full name is Elizabeth, but why would we ever call little Bethie by her full name?)  Oh, and this is my first attempt at a character sketch, so… please be patient ;-)

(If this is your first reading of LW -- gasp! -- then you should be aware that there will be spoilers in this post.)


At the start of Little Women, Beth is described thus: 

"A rosy, smooth-haired, bright-eyed girl of thirteen, with a shy manner, a timid voice, and a peaceful expression, which was seldom disturbed.  Her father called her "Little Tranquility," and the name suited her excellently; for she seemed to live in a happy world of her own, only venturing out to meet the few whom she trusted and loved." (Chapter 1 of Book I,  "Playing Pilgrims") 

The reason Beth is my favorite is that she's so thoughtful and considerate and selfless.  Take, for example, when she visits the Hummels even when she's not feeling well, and in so doing, she contracts a fever that permanently robs her of health, and eventually takes her life.

She works quietly for her family's benefit, helping Hannah, making the house bright with little "Beth touches," caring for the kittens, etc.  I love this quote that Alcott used to describe her:  "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."  (Chapter 4 of Book I, "Burdens")

At one point, Jo refers to Beth as her conscience, but honestly, I think she's the conscience of all three of her sisters.  She's the peacemaker, as Alcott says.  She's the constant -- always there for her sisters when they return from whatever flights of fancy or derring-do they've last completed.  During Beth's first bout of sickness, I'm especially struck by how Amy suddenly realizes how much Beth means to her.  "[Amy] went to her little chapel, and, sitting in the twilight, prayed for Beth with streaming tears and an aching heart, feeling that a million turquoise rings would not console her for the loss of her gentle little sister."  (Chapter 19 of Book I, "Amy's Will") 


Speaking of her sickness…

Another thing I admire about Beth is her childlike faith in God, especially when she realizes that she will never fully recover.  "She could not say, 'I’m glad to go,' for life was very sweet to her; she could only sob out, 'I’ll try to be willing.'" (Chapter 13 of Book II, "Beth’s Secret")  She just resigns herself, not in a trite, self-martyring way, but in the sweetest, simplest act of letting go, the beauty of which occasionally takes my breath away. 

What remarkable trust resides in that small, frail body!  What a capacious heart, what a pure religion, what patience, what peace.  In the fullest sense of the word, I think I can honestly say that Beth inspires me.  I want to be like her -- sunshine in my home, gentleness embodied, willing to take the Lord's hand and follow Him wherever He might lead, saying merely, "Yes, Lord."  (I've got a long way to go.)

"Seeing [Beth "weaning herself from life"] did more for Jo than the wisest sermons, the saintliest hymns, the most fervent prayers that any voice could utter; for… she recognized the beauty of her sister's life -- uneventful, unambitious, yet full of the genuine virtues which 'smell sweet, and blossom in the dust;' the self-forgetfulness that makes the humblest on earth remembered soonest in heaven, the true success which is possible to all." (Chapter 17 of Book II, "The Valley of the Shadow")


(Hamlette's Note:  Thanks so much for writing this guest post, Olivia/Arwen!  You've highlighted Beth's sweetness and light so well.)

20 comments:

  1. Awesome job Arwen! I love Beth! I wish I could be reading along with y'all on this but I had already committed to reading Little Women a different month. :(
    I'll just read the posts and be with you in spirit. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lois! Haha, I understand--"kindred hearts are always together in spirit" and all that;)

      Delete
  2. This is great, Olivia! I actually haven't read Little Women (gasp!) but I've been watching the '94 movie pretty much from the day I was born and it has a very dear place in my heart. :-)

    I love Beth! Claire Danes did SUCH an amazing job in the movie. I really enjoyed all the snippets from the book that you included-- makes me want to read it now!

    Very nicely done! :-)

    ~Emma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Emma:D You haven't read it yet? Oh, the shock! Oh, the horror! Hee, just kidding;) I grew up with the movie, too:D

      Oh, yes, Claire Danes was just…yes.

      Thanks again!:D

      Delete
  3. *Sniff*. That was a lovely, lovely guest post! And I think it made me appreciate Beth more than ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks, CGrace! I'm glad you liked it:)

      Delete
  4. You have really depicted Beth's character and sweetness well - and very well picked quotes to underline it - my favourite is the one from chapter 4, it is so true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks, Rose!:D Oh, yes, I love the way Alcott wrote about Beth *sniffle*

      Delete
  5. Lovely, lovely job, Olivia! Beth is so truly beautiful and you perfectly captured so much of her!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beth always has special place in my heart, for some reasons. Your descriptions are more beautiful than my thoughts. Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In mine, too, Bzee! Thanks a bunch:)

      Delete
  7. Beth has always been my favorite! She is such an amazing character, and you captured her essence very well--fantastic first character sketch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen! She's just great, isn't she? Thank you so much, Readinginthedark!

      Delete
  8. This was simply beautiful, dear Arwen - you described Beth's gentle and unselfish character just perfectly... May we all strive to add a bit of 'Beth' to our lives, for she is indeed an inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Kelly-Anne! I agree, I so aspire to be like her:)

      Delete
  9. Olivia, you did a GREAT job of doing Beth's character sketch. It can't really be your first! :) And oh.....Beth. I love her so much. She's such a sweet character. I've seen Little Women so many times, and read the book almost as much, and I cry every time she dies. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daww, Naralie, you're so sweet!:) Oh my goodness, yes, I always at least tear up when she dies. And in the movie, THE MUSIC THAT'S PLAYED! I just...cannot...

      Delete
    2. Oh my, yes, THE MUSIC. I can hardly ever listen to any of the Little Women soundtrack without crying. The soundtrack for that movie has such an incredible emotional hold on me.

      Delete
    3. On me, as well! It just gets me every time! Even during the happy moments, something about that melody is just...gah.

      Delete

What do you think?

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)