What Little Women Teaches Us About the Power of Staying Home

Photo credit: Trey Powers
Photo credit: Trey Powers

From House Beautiful

A book published over 150 years ago may well be the best argument for staying home, something many of us have found new appreciation for (or frustration with) over the past few months. Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women is proof that great stories can happen without having to go anywhere at all. A fair amount of the classic novel takes place at home—not abroad, not at a party, not by hanging out with groups of people who risk the wellbeing of the world just to socialize with each other—but at home. It’s not a story of going on a big adventure by leaving home and meeting new people who you otherwise would not have met; it’s a story of how everything you need is right at home.

Being with family is the foundation of this novel—nearly all of the main characters live under the same roof, and even the supporting characters live nearby, like Laurie and Mr. Laurence, who live next door. Louisa May Alcott even incorporated some home decor inspiration into her novel, like when she mentions “blue and yellow chintz curtains” (which we imagine Mario Buatta would approve of).

Photo credit: Culture Club - Getty Images
Photo credit: Culture Club – Getty Images

Not only does Little Women take place at home, it was written at home, and that home still exists today, as a historic house museum in Concord, Massachusetts. Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House is a tangible portal to the world in which Little Women was written and set, and the home was recreated inside and out for last year’s film adaptation of the famed novel, thanks to director Greta Gerwig, who decided to film entirely in Alcott’s home state.

Little Women is a mirror of life today in more ways than one: This story also deals with illness, as Beth March contracts scarlet fever and is bedridden for quite some time, with her sister Jo able to take care of her because she’s had scarlet fever and therefore has immunity (Notice we never see Beth milling about and potentially spreading the disease, because she stays home!).

Photo credit: Hulton Archive - Getty Images
Photo credit: Hulton Archive – Getty Images

The relevance of this story rings true now more than ever for a multitude of reasons, including the importance of and beauty of staying home. You might find that you don’t need to wait for a trip in order to experience adventure, and that’s because you don’t change just because your location does. As Louisa May Alcott said herself, “The power of finding beauty in the humblest of things makes home happy and life lovely.” Little Women shows that, to quote House Beautiful’s mantra, life begins at home, and you don’t need to go elsewhere to really live.

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