Little Women Wiki
Josephine Bhaer

Birth and Death

Late 1840s - Unknown

Also Known As

  • Mrs. Bhaer
  • Troublemaker

Hair Color

Reddish Brown





"Fatal Flaw"


Family Members

Parents and siblings

Spouse and children

Aunts and Uncles

  • Aunt March (great-aunt)
  • Uncle March (mentioned only)
  • Aunt Carrol (aunt)
  • Uncle Carrol (uncle)


  • Florence "Flo" Carrol (cousin)


Nieces and nephews


Josephine "Jo" Bhaer (née March) is the second oldest March sister. She is seen as the protagonist of Little Women.



Josephine was a reckless, daring child. She used slang and ruffles up her clothes (which were a great trial to her, especially when she grew old enough to wear long skirts). Josephine loved to read, and would spend hours doing so, reading books such as The Heir of Radcliffe.

The attic at Orchard House was a favourite haunt of hers. She had a desk where she could be found when in a 'vortex'. Josephine had a 'scribbling suit', which consisted of a large black pinafore to absorb ink stains and a small black cap with a grey feather. When she was in different moods/states of the story, it was at different angles. If she was at a difficult or despairing moment in her books, it was “plucked wholly off, and cast upon the floor”. At the start of the book she wishes to become a famous writer; at the end, she appears quite happy with her school”.

At the beginning of 'Little Women', the family is experiencing temporary financial difficulties during the American Civil War. The March girls' father is in the army as a pastor and the sisters are working to make some extra money to support the family. Josephine has to assist her rich elderly great-aunt - Aunt March. When her father falls ill, Josephine sells her hair, her 'only pride', than beg her aunt for money for her mother's ticket to Washington, so she could go visit her husband.

The sisters made good friends with their neighbour, Theodore 'Laurie' Laurence. Josephine nicknamed him Teddy and he would sometimes call her "my fellow." While Theodore studied at college, Josephine kept working on her writing.

Later life[]

During that time, Theodore realized that he had fallen in love with Josephine. Sensing his feelings, Josephine confided in her mother, telling her that she loved Theodore but as she would love a brother and that she could not love him romantically. Theodore proposed marriage to her and she turned him down.

Josephine decided she needed a break, and spent six months with a friend of her mother in New York City, serving as governess for her two children. The family ran a boarding house. She took German lessons with Professor Friedrich Bhaer, who lived in the house. They soon became good friends. For extra money, Josephine wrote stories without a moral, which disappointed him. They had an argument and when Josephine learned that Elizabeth’s health had seriously deteriorated, she left New York and devoted her time to the care of her dying sister.

On her invitation, Professor Bhaer arrived at the Marches' home and stayed for two weeks. On his last day, he proposed to Josephine. Aunt March died, leaving Plumfield to Josephine. She and Bhaer turned the house into a school for girls and boys and had two sons of their own.


Of the four March sisters, Josephine was easily the least traditional female character: she was vocal about thinking for herself, took pride in shunning female manners and fashion, and was unlikely to succumb to the pressures placed on women at that time. In fact, she was always disappointed that she was not born a man, and hated the very idea of the inevitability of becoming a full woman. This can be interpreted as a subconscious desire on their part that allows the freedoms that men can not enjoy at that moment, as well as, losing their own identity, once they embrace their femininity.

One notable trait of Josephine's would be her determination: when she set her mind on something, it was very difficult to dissuade her from doing it - an example of which would be her dedication to her stories. Her "fatal flaw" was her temper, which could be exceptionally bad and volatile when provoked to her breaking point, but as her guidance under her mother's wise teachings as well her own life experiences progressed, Jo learned how to properly control it.

As she matured, Josephine gradually learned the importance of accepting her own gender and realized that becoming a full true woman did not mean losing her own unique identity. As her father pointed out after returning home, Josephine was no longer the "daughter" he once knew: she had ceased to practice bad habits such as talking slang, and even dressed, spoke, moved, and cared for her family - especially Beth - in a way that made her satisfied of the strong, helpful, and tender-hearted woman she was growing to be.


When Jo was first introduced as a fifteen-year-old, she was described as being very tall, thin, and tanned, with long clumsy limbs that gave her the impression of a colt. She also had all-seeing sharp grey eyes, a funny-looking nose, a firm mouth, round shoulders, and large hands and feet. Her long, thick hair was said to be her "one beauty", but it was usually bundled into a net, and she later cut and sold it, leaving her with cropped hair.

Later on, at eighteen, Jo was described as having matured into a curvaceous, rosy-cheeked, and bright-eyed young woman whose hair was long again and set off her head to advantage, and she carried herself with grace.


  • Josephine March is based on Louisa May Alcott herself, which made the book semi-autobiographical. Jo’s struggles with writing a publishable story are loosely based on Louisa May Alcott’s own struggles with becoming an author as a female in her time.