Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Little Women Read-Along: A Merry Christmas (Ch. 2)

I forgot to mention this in the previous post.  Would anyone be interested in writing a guest post for this read-along?  A character sketch or a review of one of the movie versions, for instance?  Or even a post delving into one of your favorite themes from the book.  Please comment any time if you'd be interested!  We had quite a few guest posts for the Lord of the Rings read-along and I thought they were so cool.

And I will be holding a give-away at the end of this read-along, just so you know :-)

Now, on to business!

It makes me smile and smile that we get a full account of the play!  Too often books like this spend plenty of time detailing the preparations for the play, and then when the production actually is presented, we only get a few sentences saying things like, "The play went off with only a few hitches.  One little character forgot her lines entirely, while another kept looking at the audience to see how they were reacting to the funny bits.  But although the scenery came crashing down on the poor actors' heads during the elopement scene, the show gamely went on, and was greeted with cheers and a satisfying round of applause at the end."

Wouldn't it be boring if that's all we got?  Instead, Alcott gives us pages of delicious play, and I'm so happy she does.  I'd forgotten they invited their friends to be the audience, though.  How jolly!

We also see that theme of good being rewarded coming through again, with Mr. Laurence sending them a big Christmas feast to show how good he thinks they were when they gave away their breakfasts.

Favorite Lines:

Hugo, getting thirsty after a long warble, drinks it, loses his wits, and after a good deal of clutching and stamping, falls flat and dies, while Hagar informs him what she has done in a song of exquisite power and melody (p. 19).

Possible Discussion Questions:  Have you ever put on a play with your family or friends like the March girls do here?

Have you read Mansfield Park?  If so, compare and contrast this statement with how Fanny Price views play acting:  "It was excellent drill for their memories, a harmless amusement, and employed many hours which otherwise would have been idle, lonely, or spent in less profitable society" (p. 16).  

41 comments:

  1. May I belatedly jump onto the Little Women express? I think I can catch up quickly enough even if I do read oh so slowly. Yes, I think I said something previously about accepting the challenge -- my memory is like swiss-cheese, and my meds sometimes lead me into the most bizarre deadends -- but this time I am (( think) serious. So, what kind of schedule are you using? A chapter every other day or so? Hmmm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course! People are free to join in at any time. I'm trying to do a post about a chapter every-other-day. They're short and easy to get through, so I think that's a schedule I can stick with. And catching up shouldn't be too tough, I hope! Glad to have you join us :-)

      Delete
  2. Hamlette,
    Oh, this is one of my favorite chapters! All right. So mayhap almost every one is nearly a favorite, but this one is really terribly fun!

    Something that I was particularly noticing in this reading so far is how much Alcott is able to show about both story and characters almost purely through dialogue! However, like you, I am so glad she put in so much description about the play! BTW: the play as seen in the Katherine Hepburn LW is one of the most hilarious movies scenes EVER! And if you haven't seen it yet, you must see it pronto! :)

    And The Boots. I really want the boots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a big fan of dialog, and yes, Alcott uses it very well.

      I haven't seen the Katherine Hepburn version yet, but thanks to encouragement from a certain sister of yours, I'll be seeing it soon!

      And those boots do sound awesome. I have a fondness for good boots. (And good hats. And good coats.)

      Delete
  3. Aww! How I loved this delightful chapter! Full of frolic and fun and I enjoyed how the girls put together such a fabulous play with so few things - they made all that they needed and one has to admire that!
    I have to agree with you, it is so lovely to have a full account of the play! And so sweet how the sisters spent time practicing and planning such a wonderful entertainment:)
    About the giving up of their Christmas breakfast - oh! I could feel my heart going out to those poor, starving Hummels and to the darling March girls who gave up their lovely food! Bravo for them!
    I was also greatly touched by their readiness to listen to Marmee - the sweetest mother in any book, I'm sure - and read their little books and strive to become good!
    Now I know for certain that Little Women is my favourite story and Louisa May Alcott...well, she must have been an amazing woman with much wisdom!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From what I've read, Louisa May Alcott had a very unstable family life when she was growing up, and so I think this book is her way of creating the childhood she would like to have had. This makes me very impressed with what a clear picture she's painted of a happy, cozy home. She does have a lot of wisdom to impart, doesn't she!

      Delete
  4. My brothers & sisters and I frequently acted out plays- or TV shows- but generally left the neighbours out of it. Every Christmas morning, one of my sisters has her kids act out Luke 2- complete with costumes- before they open their presents. In Mansfield Park, Fanny certainly had a much more severe view of playacting than the March family, but had some justification. The play, put on by drunk ol' Tom, in mixed company, with some improprieties involved, could hardly be favorably compared to the March's innocent amusements. And with their play, they would only allow girls to watch, with even Jo concluding that it would be inappropriate for Laurie to see them, dressed as they were for the entertainment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only had one sibling, and while he and I did put on a variety of plays, I always kind of wished we had more siblings so we didn't have to quadruple up on parts all the time.

      I've never thought of Tom Bertram as being a drunk. But certainly the play the Bertrams were putting on had more innuendo and opportunities for possible impropriety. Also, of course, that was half a century earlier, which may have made a difference.

      Delete
  5. My brother and friends and I used to spend many hours in the summer putting on plays.
    I also love the frequent references to the boots. I remember certain costume items like that that were extremely desirable and made it into every production.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had two grand hats that were always used for any fancy lady characters when I was a kid. Good props and costume elements are such fun!

      Delete
  6. The play was soo well-described! I particularly liked this bit: "Unfortunately the cot-bed shut up, extinguishing the adoring audience." XD Or something to that effect, I don't recall exactly:D

    As to the guest posts: I'd love to! If you have any preferences let me know, and I'd be delighted to try my hand at it:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that was quite funny!

      I would love to have you write a guest post! What would you like to write about? I was thinking posts about each of the main characters would be neat, kind of summing up who they are and what makes them special. You can look at the guest posts from the LOTR read-along (links to them are here) if you want to see what I mean. So maybe a post about your favorite character?

      Or you could review one of the movie versions and compare it to the book, that would be cool too.

      Basically, you're going to write it, so what do you want to write about? :-)

      Delete
    2. I was thinking either a post about Beth, a review of the '94 version, or perhaps a post about the Great and Glorious Debate between Team Laurie and Team Professor Bhaer, though that last one might be a bit overly ambitious;) Whichever you prefer.

      Delete
    3. Well... who says you can only do one? How about we start with a post about Beth, and then go on from there? A post on Team Laurie vs. Team Bhaer might be very amusing too :-) And I'd love to get some movie reviews in here too. I might reprint mine of the 1978 version since it's not widely known. So... pick one you'd like to do first!

      Delete
    4. A character sketch of Beth sounds like a good starter to me:)

      Now, then…how exactly does a guest post work? *sheepishly*

      Delete
    5. You write it up, then email it to me, preferably as an MSWord document or such. If you have any pictures you'd really like to have included, you send those along as well. And I post it with your name attached. I posted my email address in a comment on your blog and then deleted it so it's not out there for the spambots to find. Make sense?

      Delete
    6. Sounds good! I'll email it to you shortly:)

      Delete
  7. I love reading details, so this chapter was amazing (and sorta inspiring, but I never performed/wrote anything...)
    The friends seeing the play caught me off guard. I don't remember Alcott mentioning anything about them having a large amount of girl friends?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also don't remember them having lots of friends -- I'm curious to see if they ever pop up again, or if they get summarily supplanted by Laurie.

      Delete
  8. I have to catch up.... :P But wanted to hop on and say that at some point I'd love to do a guest post! (Particularly on Amy -- so maybe in the second half? :))

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the part when Amy sneaked to exchange her gift to Marmee with the large one. And when Jo teased Beth because she wrote 'Mother' instead of her mother's name. Those pure and sincere acts just simply touching.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Both very sweet. I love how Amy overcame her natural inclinations there.

      Delete
  10. If you are interested, I could write a guest post about the webseries about Little Women, which is currently ongoing. It's called 'The March Family Letters'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh! That would be super cool. Please do!

      Delete
    2. Alright! Around when would you like it, have you got an idea? Then I can plan when I have to write it.

      Delete
    3. Well, how far has the series gotten? From my cursory Googling, it looks like they've just gotten to the part about the limes? That's coming up really soon (as in, I'll be posting about that chapter on Friday, I think), so sooner would be better than later, I'd say! Could you have it done next week some time?

      Delete
    4. Beginning of next week I have to finish an article for the next Femnista, so this guest post I can't finish before the end of next week/the weekend of 21/22. Hope that's still oke?

      Delete
    5. Sure! Next weekend sounds good. Yeah, I haven't even started on my Femnista article yet. Eeek!

      Delete
    6. I've not started on the article itself either, but I'm rewatching The Nativity which I'm writing about. Really strange to watch it in March, but interesting as well!

      Delete
    7. Hee, that would be a bit disconcerting!

      Delete
    8. So, the thing is: I don't like the March Family Letters. I only watched 1 episode before I offered to write the piece for you. I thought writing the piece was a good excuse/reason to get updated, and I've been 'binge' watching the last few days, but: no, I'm not a fan. I definitely still would like to write a post for it, but I must warn you, it will most likely be a negative one. Do you mind?

      Delete
    9. I don't mind at all! I think a negative review can often be more thought-provoking than a positive one. As long as it's not hateful, but I know your blogging well enough to be pretty sure you'll be honest, candid, and fair in your review, be it negative or positive :-)

      Delete
    10. Alright! No, it will definitely not be hateful, nor will it be all negative, there definitely are some nice/interesting bits. I'll try and send it to you tomorrow evening (which will be afternoon in your part of the world)

      Delete
    11. Yay! Do you still have my email address?

      Delete
  11. About Fanny and MP -- good question! Interestingly, I've read that Austen herself participated in a number of plays performed in a circle of family and friends. So it wasn't so much the activity in and of itself, as the play they chose (Lover's Vows). I've read plot summaries of Lover's Vows and it's pretty....yes, steamy. And it would have been particularly inappropriate for that collection of young people (and how they were all situated/relating to each other).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gotcha! I think also that Fanny Price is innately sensitive in matters of propriety, and being brought up by her relations making her even more so.

      Delete
  12. P.S. Forgot to say I love how Alcott details the whole play here, too. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, the scenes with the play are wonderful. I have read it so many times but the sheer amounts of details in the description makes me imagine it differently each time.
    On the subject of the contrast to Fanny's view on acting, I think the cicumstances are very different here. I remember one of Fanny's biggest concerns was the play being improper - especially for the group of people performing it.
    As a contrast the play in this chapter was a quite innocent and played by 4 sisters - which could lead to no improper situations for them at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right that the situation makes a big difference, and who is doing the playing :-)

      And I think this play is one of the most delightful chapters in any piece of children's literature I've ever read :-) I want to put on tall boots and be part of it!

      Delete

What do you think?

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)