NOTE: While this article avoids outright spoilers, it does allude to major plot points of the novel and film.
Greta Gerwig’s most recent film Little Women takes on a modern adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel. Since its release Christmas of 2019, the film has received 71 awards and 181 nominations including Movie of the Year, Best Lead Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Some moments, such as Amy’s dramatic meltdown outside of Laurie’s window, will bring wholesome laughter; others, such as Jo’s cautiously walking downstairs after finding Beth’s bed empty, will bring streams of tears. Still, other moments show the raw feelings harbored in the various characters. Two speeches in the film, one from Amy and one from Jo, perfectly highlight the tensions between marriage and independence. If you’ve read the book or seen any of the Little Women adaptations, then you will know that Amy and Jo have their differences. Amy has no shame about wanting to be a famous artist and marry rich. Jo only wants to write, doesn’t wish to grow up and leave home, and never wants to marry. Yet, they both understand that women in 19th century were only supposed to find a husband and have children. Amy embraces the system and tries to find a rich husband to ensure that what little she has will be taken care of properly:
“I’m just a woman. And as a woman, there’s no way for me to make my own money. Not enough to earn a living, or to support my family. And if I had my own money, which I don’t, that money would belong to my husband the moment we got married. And if we had children, they would be his, not mine. They would be his property. So don’t sit there and tell me that marriage isn’t an economic proposition, because it is. It may not be for you, but it most certainly is for me”.
Soon after, though, Amy realizes that while her plan is perfectly sensible, it does not take love into account. Jo, on the other hand, pushes back on the system in which Amy builds her life around and sets out never to get married. However, in entering her adult life, Jo realizes something: she’s lonely. The 2019 adaptation of Little Women does a beautiful job at expressing the juxtaposition between being seen as only a wife and desperately desiring human connection:
“I just feel like, women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But I’m so lonely!”.
While this adaptation was not developed with a Christian worldview in mind, we can still find value in its empowerment of women within romantic relationships. A Christian marriage gives both parties independence. Women have more value than just their romantic status, but still, God created us to want human companionship, and that’s okay. Jo and Amy thought they would be perfectly happy to live out their days alone or with someone they did not love, but each found that deep within, they still desired meaningful companionship. As viewers from a Christian worldview, we can learn that though we may have a certain plan for our lives, God might have something else in mind.
This month, I will be doing a hand lettering piece of Jo’s memorable line, “women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty”. With hand lettering, composition and font are two important factors to play around with. Try to sketch out a few different concepts before laying out the work on a larger piece of paper. This sketch only has to be detailed enough for you to figure out the layout, sizes, font combinations, and embellishments.
Next, lightly sketch your words and embellishments in pencil on your paper. This is the most time consuming and tedious step as you will want to make sure that you have clean lines that work together as a whole. If your composition has any straight lines, as mine does, use a ruler rather than trying to estimate a straight line. This will later be in pen, so line quality will be very important. More important, however, is that you enjoy this project!
Lastly, go over your pencil sketch in pen. You can use any kind of pens you have available, but I find that brush pens work best for cursive letters, regular ballpoint pens work best for fine print letters, and slightly larger felt nibbed pens work best for darker print letters. While this step can also be tedious, it does not take as long as the previous step because you already have your plan laid out. While the sketching portion of this project took between one and two hours, this final step took no more than twenty minutes.
Hand lettering can seem like a daunting task, but with practice and patience it will become easier, and you will find a process that works well for you. I also find that hand lettering a Bible verse can be an impactful way to meditate on a piece of scripture. I would love to see your hand lettering pieces! You can send them to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram @emcardsandcreations
Little Women. Directed by Greta Gerwig, performances by Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Elia Scanlen, and Timothée Chalamet, Columbia Pictures, 2019.
“Little Women.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/title/tt3281548/awards?ref_=tt_awd.