Date of Award

Spring 2022

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. Jill Jones

Committee Member

Dr. Jana Mathews

Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Parsloe


Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868) has an extensive lineage of film adaptations. The classic novel’s most recent film adaptation was written for the screen and directed by Greta Gerwig (2019). This thesis employs adaptation theory as well as visual and verbal close reading and critical analysis of the film, source novel, and popular film reviews. Gerwig’s adaptation looks, sounds, and feels like the Little Women that has been cherished for decades. The director fulfills these aesthetic expectations to subvert our understandings of sentimentalism, domesticity, individuality, and the relinquishment of childhood. An examination of art’s imitation of life, the epistolary and intertextuality, and cinematography and storytelling reveal how Gerwig’s transformative film is both faithful and radical to Alcott’s text. In doing so, Gerwig offers adult women agency, power, and freedom in a way that most film adaptations, and even the original novel, never have.

Rights Holder

Siobhan Cooney