Have you ever heard the popular saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”? To me, this is the perfect way to describe Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Even though this book is 150 years old, parts of it still seem relevant in today’s world. The novel centers around the March sisters and tells the story of their pure adolescence, knowledgeable adulthood and all the bliss and sadness in between. To celebrate the 150th anniversary, I have compiled a list of five classics that have left a mark on the literary world just like Little Women has done.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This enormously popular novel explores the adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. It is predominately told through the eyes of Scout Finch. Scout is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a white lawyer that has been hired to defend Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story that portrays Scout’s growing awareness of the hypocrisy and prejudice present in the adults around her.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This coming-of-age story centers around Jane, a 10-year-old orphan. We follow her as she moves into adulthood and falls in love with Mr. Rochester. Jane Eyre focuses a lot on Jane’s moral and spiritual development and its author, Charlotte Bronte, has been called the “first historian of the private consciousness.”
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
1920’s America is known as the Jazz Age, a period of time in which jazz music and dance styles dominated the nation. F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with coining the term. His novel explores this lavish time period and introduces us to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, the object of his affection.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
First published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel that revolves around Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth, along with her four sisters, must marry well in order to support the family upon their father’s death. The wealthy Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth start off as adversaries, but what ensues is one of the most engaging courtships in literature.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
This Pulitzer Prize-winning epic novel chronicles the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California during the Great Depression. Their hardships as migrant farm workers are also portrayed in this classic literary work that was adapted into a film in 1940.