Academic Journal

Intimations of Infanticide in Little Women.

Bibliographic Details
Title: Intimations of Infanticide in Little Women.
Authors: Larkin, Ilana
Source: J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists; Spring2023, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p37-66, 30p
Abstract: This article reads Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868) against nineteenth-century mothering manuals and the psychoanalytic object-relations theory to argue that the novel links maternal rage with infanticide. Feminist scholars have noted how Little Women , though ostensibly a story of family harmony, conceals a deep vein of anger. Jo March's trajectory, like that of other nineteenth-century sentimental heroines, stages a transformation from rebellious tomboy to self-controlled angel-in-the-house. Attending to the ways in which the text persistently links anger to infanticide, this article shows how the idealized angel-in-the-house functioned as an idealized solution to guard against the imagined dangers of female rage. Moreover, the binary between angel mothers and infanticidal ones was inflected with racial meaning that served to distinguish who was and wasn't included under the umbrella of national belonging. In recovering the spectre of infanticide subtending Little Women , this article asks us to re-evaluate the ways that cultural texts transmitted messages about love and rage and the political implications of how such relationships to affect determined the lives and developmental trajectories of children. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Subject Terms: FEMINISM, INFANTICIDE, PSYCHOANALYSIS
Reviews & Products: LITTLE Women (Book : Alcott)
People: ALCOTT, Louisa May, 1832-1888
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ISSN: 2166742X
DOI: 10.1353/jnc.2023.a909295
Database: Complementary Index