Why Little Women Still Matters, More Than 150 Years Later

Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen in Greta Gerwig's Little Women (2019).
Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen in Greta Gerwig's Little Women (2019).
Wilson Webb / © 2019 CTMG, Inc.

In 1868, Louisa May Alcott published the first part of Little Women, which would become her most famous novel (though it took her less than two months to write it). Today, more than 150 years later, Oscar-nominated director Greta Gerwig is already generating awards buzz for her new adaptation of Alcott's novel, which stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet.

The film, of course, comes less than a year after the BBC adapted the story into a miniseries (for the fourth time), which ran as part of PBS's Masterpiece series in the spring of 2018. These two projects are just the latest celebrations of the beloved novel, which has been adapted more than two dozens times—not only for film and television, but as stage plays, musicals, an opera, a radio drama, and even a Japanese anime series. All of which begs the question: Why, after all this time, do we continue to return to a coming-of-age story based on four sisters who grew up in the 19th century?

One reason is because the book is written with such natural dialogue that, even today, it remains realistic in its portrayal of womanhood (not just girlhood). Women in the World posits that Alcott’s real life—she and her family lived in poverty; she and her family moved 30 times in 22 years; she was a writer when women weren’t encouraged to write; she was sexually harassed—translated into universally relatable content that has managed to transcend the decades. Especially as it's written with what many deem to be an undeniable feminist bent.

In real life, Alcott never married, but as a writer she was ultimately forced to marry all the March sisters off. In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, author Anne Boyd Rioux suggests that one of the reasons Little Women has endured is because the book isn't just a sentimental and sweet novel, but also a book about female rage.

In discussing Rioux's book in The New Republic, Sarah Blackwood wrote:

"Bronson Alcott’s strict adherence to his 'ideals'—vegetarianism, selflessness, and political commitments to use no cotton, wool, sugar, molasses, or rice—meant that his children were often improperly clothed and malnourished. He once left his wife Abigail alone with two small children so that he could focus on his studies for a year, during which Abigail weathered the first of many miscarriages on her own. Lizzie Alcott (the inspiration for the saintly Beth March) appears to have starved herself to death; her mother and sisters attended her during a protracted, painful, and utterly irredeemable death. Alcott was always keenly aware of how much she had to temper and redirect her own ambitions simply because she was a woman."

The article goes on to suggest that "Little Women has endured because of the power of its ‘lessons’ about balancing family and career, individualism and selflessness, and the value of (truly) companionate marriage." Yet it doesn't shy away from how these values can often create contradictions in one's life.

“The homes [Alcott] depicts are both cozy and claustrophobic, the marriages companionate and perverse, and the March girls’ dreams both fulfilled and depressingly renounced," Blackwood wrote. Yet, 150 years later, Alcott’s experiences in deciding whether or not to marry, and how to navigate what was clearly a man's world as a woman remain painfully relatable to today's artists and audiences.

For Gerwig, who became the first female filmmaker to earn a Best Director Oscar nomination for her debut feature with 2017's semi-autobiographical Lady Bird, her upcoming Little Women adaptation may be even more personal. "This feels like autobiography,” Gerwig told Vanity Fair. "When you live through a book, it almost becomes the landscape of your inner life ... It becomes part of you, in a profound way."

Millions of the book's fans would agree.

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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6 Things We Know About the Game of Thrones Prequel Series, House of the Dragon

HBO
HBO

By the time Game of Thrones wrapped up its record-breaking eight-season run in 2019, it was a no-brainer that HBO would be producing another GoT series to keep the success going. The first announced show in the works, which was reportedly picked from a few prequel ideas, was going to chronicle a time thousands of years before the start of GoT, and was set to star actress Naomi Watts. Unfortunately, that project was eventually scrapped after the pilot was shot—but a new prequel series, House of the Dragon, was announced in October 2019. Here's what we know about it so far.

1. House of the Dragon will be based on George R.R. Martin's book Fire & Blood.

George R.R. Martin's novel Fire & Blood, which tells the story of House Targaryen, will serve as the source of inspiration for the plot of House of the Dragon. The first of two volumes was published in 2018, and takes place 300 years before Game of Thrones.

2. House of the Dragon will likely chronicle the Targaryen family's tumultuous past.

Game of Thrones showed that the Targaryen family has a long-standing history of inbreeding, secrets, betrayal, war, and insanity. Fire & Blood covers topics like the first Aegon Targaryen's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms and his subsequent reign, as well as the lives of his sons. Seems like we'll probably be meeting Dany's ancestors, and Martin confirmed there will definitely be dragons present—maybe even Balerion the Black Dread, the biggest dragon in all of Westerosi history.

3. George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal are co-creators of House of the Dragon.

Co-Executive Producer George R.R. Martin arrives at the premiere of HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 18, 2013 in Hollywood, California
George R.R. Martin
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Martin shared on his blog that he's been working with writer and producer Ryan Condal (Rampage, Colony), on the show. "Ryan Condal is new to Westeros, but not to me," the acclaimed author wrote. "I first met Ryan when he came to New Mexico to shoot a pilot for a fantasy western that was not picked up. I visited his set and we became friendly ... He’s a terrific writer … and a fan of my books since well before we met." In another blog post, Martin said that the show's script and bible were "terrific, first-rate, exciting." Sounds like we'll be in good hands.

5. A Game of Thrones director is returning for House of the Dragon.

Per a tweet from the Game of Thrones Twitter account announcing the show, Miguel Sapochnik, who directed many of the original HBO series' biggest episodes, such as "Battle of the Bastards" and "Hardhome," will be returning for House of the Dragon as showrunner alongside Condal. Sapochnik is also known for directing a handful of other notable shows, such as True Detective, Masters of Sex, and Altered Carbon.

6. House of the Dragon could be coming in 2022.

HBO ordered 10 episodes of House of the Dragon, and HBO president of programming Casey Bloys said he thought that the show would debut "sometime in 2022." However, with the film industry facing major delays due to safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, there's no word on when the show will begin filming.

Meanwhile, Martin revealed that he won't be writing any scripts for House of the Dragon until he finishes The Winds of Winter, which has been in the works since A Dance With Dragons, his most recent book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, debuted in 2011. The good news, however, is that Martin says he has been "writing every day" while keeping indoors and social distancing, leaving fans with the hope that The Winds of Winter will come soon.