|“||"I don't see how you can write and act such splendid things, Jo. You're a regular Shakespeare!".||„|
|~ -Beth about Jo's writing|
|“||“I never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is leaving you all. I’m not afraid, but it seems as if I should be homesick for you even in heaven.”||„|
|~ -Beth talking to Jo on her (Beth) deathbed|
|“||“For with eyes made clear by many tears, and a heart softened by the tenderest sorrow, she recognized the beauty of her sister’s life--uneventful, unambitious, yet full of the genuine virtues which ‘smell sweet, and blossom in the dust’, the self-forgetfulness that makes the humblest on earth remembered soonest in heaven, the true success which is possible to all. ”||„|
|~ -Jo about Beth's death|
Elizabeth "Beth" March is one of the four main protagonists in the book series Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott) as well as all adaptations. She is the second youngest March sister and the third child of Margaret and Robert March. She is known for her musicality and pleasant ways. Of everyone in the March family, Beth is closest to one of her older sisters Josephine "Jo" March.
The character is based on one of the real life sisters of Louisa May Alcott who also developed Scarlet Fever and died.
Beth has been portrayed by many different actors. In the 1933 movie she was portrayed by the late Jean Parker, 1949 by Margaret O'Brien, 1978 by Eve Plumb, 1994 by Claire Danes, 2017 by Annes Elwy and 2019 by Eliza Scanlen.
Beth was born and raised in Concord, Massachusetts in America. She is the third daughter of Margaret and Robert March and the second youngest March sister. During her first years the March family was pretty wealthy, but when Beth was three their father had lost his money. The vast majority of her life, Beth has lived in genteel poverty.
At the start of the novel Beth is thirteen. She takes care of the housework and wants a new piano to play, which she gets from Laurie's grandfather James Laurence. Even though she loves everyone in her family so dear, she is especially close to her sister Jo. They share their secrets and tell everything to eachother. Beth always wanted to spend time and play with her sisters. When their mother goes to their wounded father in another city, the sisters have to manage and do everything Marmee did, together with the household servant Hannah. Every day during that time Beth goes to help a really poor family: the Hummels. She gives them food and other gifts, and help nurture their sick baby. But after a while the baby dies and Beth gets infected and develops Scarlet Fever from the baby. Her sisters finds out and try to take care of Beth at home. They send Amy away to live with Aunt March so that she wouldn't become sick as well. Beth becomes more and more sick. The sisters, Hannah and the laurences send a letter to Marmee where they inform her about Beth's sickness. Their mother comes home to help. Beth recovers from the actual disease but her health is permanently weakened.
As her sisters grows up they begin to leave home, but Beth has no desire to leave her house or family. Beth realize as she grows that her time with her loved ones will meet an early end. The family makes a special room for her, filled with things she loved: her kittens, the piano, Father's books, Amy's drawings and her beloved dolls. Jo comes home from New York to be with Beth. Jo is impressed and inspired at the way Beth acts even on her deathbed. She knits and sews clothes for poor children who pass by on their way to and from school. She never complains, she is still her sweet and tranquil self. Jo is always with her and helps beth with everything. Jo explains to Beth how much she means to her and Beth does the same. Later she dies in Marmee's arms. Beth's death has a big impact on everyone in the family, especially Jo, who resolves to live her life with more consideration and care for others. The main loss in Little Women is the death of the beloved and pure good Beth March.
At the beginning of the novel Beth is described as kind, sweet, gentle, shy, quiet, peaceful and musical. She is known for her pleasant ways and generous nature. Beth is unbelieveably kind and virtuous. She will never let the bad things that happens make her pessimistic. Even on her deathbed she is still her sweet self. She gladly helps and nurtures others in need. All of the March sisters but Beth fight with eachother, especially Jo and Amy. Being the calm peacemaker of the family she gently scolds her sisters when they argue. Beth was patient, modest and extremely shy. All her life she had social anxiety and was a bit insecure, only talking to those closest to her. She had to drop out of school because of her phobia of standing up and recite in front of everybody.
At home she didn't just relax. She helped with the housework together with Hannah, therefore they became good friends. Beth genuinely believed that everyone else in her family were truly gifted. She always supported Jo's dream of becoming an author and said that Jo was the best writer she know. Respectively she really thought Amy was the most talented painter in the world. Unlike her sisters whose dreams are big, Beth is completely unambitious. The only material thing she ever asked for was a new piano. After she got that she was totally happy. Beth is also extremely caring and totally selfless. She always put other needs first and ignores herself. Though it could be said that Beth's altruism is what eventually killed her. Because she helped the Hummels and got scarlet fever from their baby, and scarlet fever is what ultimately kills her. But the total inner peace that Beth displayed is also what made her an angel on Earth.
Even though Beth was so morally pure and innocent she didn't live her full life. She died at age 23 in her mom's arms. Jo was greatly impacted by her sister's death. Beth had been everything to Jo and vice versa. All around Beth was during her whole life always kind, warm, helpful, content, selfless, good, humble, giving, loyal, diligent, musical and modest.
"My Beth" is a poem that Jo writes after the tragic death of her beloved sister Beth. In the poem Jo explains the sweetness and beauty in her sister's pure and selfless nature. The poem goes like this:
Sitting patient in the shadow
Till the blessed light shall come,
A serene and saintly presence
Sanctifies our troubled home.
Earthly joys and hopes and sorrows
Break like ripples on the strand
Of the deep and solemn river
Where her willing feet now stand.
O my sister, passing from me,
Out of human care and strife,
Leave me, as a gift, those virtues
Which have beautified your life.
Dear, bequeath me that great patience
Which has power to sustain
A cheerful, uncomplaining spirit
In its prison-house of pain.
Give me, for I need it sorely,
Of that courage, wise and sweet,
Which has made the path of duty
Green beneath your willing feet.
Give me that unselfish nature,
That with charity devine
Can pardon wrong for love's dear sake--
Meek heart, forgive me mine!
Thus our parting daily loseth
Something of its bitter pain,
And while learning this hard lesson,
My great loss becomes my gain.
For the touch of grief will render
My wild nature more serene,
Give to life new aspirations,
A new trust in the unseen.
Henceforth, safe across the river,
I shall see forever more
A beloved, household spirit
Waiting for me on the shore.
Hope and faith, born of my sorrow,
Guardian angels shall become,
And the sister gone before me
By their hands shall lead me home.