Our favourite Little Women quotes on ambition, love and independence

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Megan Murray
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The best quotes from Little Women on everything from love to independence. 

Despite being published in 1869, Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved novel, Little Women, is a tale that has stood the test of time, with many of its feminist themes still being strikingly relevant today. 

 The story of the March sisters, Jo, Beth, Amy and Meg, picks apart the challenges facing young women, then and now, as they struggle to find themselves and their place in the world. Sure, there may be some pretty major challenges faced by the Marchs that we don’t have to deal with, like scarlet fever and no electricity, but there’s plenty that ring true in 2018.

From Jo’s battle for independence and to be seen as an equal, to Amy’s insecurities at the hands of society’s perception of beauty, Alcott addresses issues that have affected women for centuries with words that we’ve held close to our chests since we first read them

If you don’t have time to re-read this iconic piece of literature, but your heart aches for an inspiring word from one of the March girls, bury yourself in some of our favourite quotes on everything from ambition to happiness to love. 

Quotes on love

“I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.”

“Love is a great beautifier.”

“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.”

“Life and love are very precious when both are in full bloom.”

Woman reading a book in bed

“I am lonely, sometimes, but I dare say it’s good for me…”

Quotes on independence 

“You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone.”

“Better be happy old maids than unhappy wives or unmaidenly girls running about to find husbands.”

“I don’t like favors; they oppress and make me fell like a slave. I’d rather do everything for myself, and be perfectly independent.”

“I’m not like the rest of you; I never made any plans about what I’d do when I grew up; I never thought of being married, as you did.”

“I am lonely, sometimes, but I dare say it’s good for me…”

“Take some books and read; that’s an immense help; and books are always good company if you have the right sort.”

Woman reading a book outside
Why, in the middle of a pandemic, are we all reading books about deadly epidemics?

Quotes on ambition 

“Jo’s ambition was to do something very splendid; what it was she had no idea, as yet, but left it for time to tell her.”

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.”

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them.”

Book with glasses resting on top

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

Quotes on not giving up 

“Into each life some rain must fall, somedays must be dark and sad and dreary.”

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”

Woman reading a book in a window

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.”

Quotes on happiness

“She was one of those happily created beings who please without effort, make friends everywhere, and take life so gracefully and easily that less fortunate souls are tempted to believe that such are born under a lucky star.”

Images: BBC /Getty 


Who is your favourite March sister?


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.