Photo: Jo March, Lizzie Bennett, Carrie Bradshaw


Are you a Jo March, a Lizzie Bennet or a Carrie Bradshaw? 

Take any group of women from literature or history, and there will almost certainly be hundreds of other women trying to figure out which one they are. And it's never not fascinating, says Caroline O'Donoghue

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By Caroline O'Donoghue on

"I think I'm a Meg," one woman says. "But, sometimes, I worry I might be a Beth." 

"I'm Jo, all the way up to the creepy professor." 

"I'd probably have been just working at their local ribbon shop, building up courage to say hello to Jo."

This is the Twitter chat that set our feed wonderously alight this morning. Today's Google Doodle for Louisa May Alcott quickly became a joyous "Which March sister are you?" conversation.

Whether it’s in fiction or literature, wherever there’s a group of remarkable women, there will be another group of women, elsewhere, trying to decide who is in which camp. It’s a fascinating insight into how women think of themselves when you take away the parameters of wife or girlfriend or mother. This, I think, is why women tend to be much more into horoscopes than men are. It’s a desire to be seen by the wider world for the depth of your character, rather than who you’re married to. You rarely get men playing “Am I a Roger Sterling or a Don Draper?” because the cultural representations of men are so wide and varied that there’s almost no point. 

Whether you're playing this game with Little Women, Sex And The City, the wives of Henry VIII, the Mitford sisters or the Pride And Prejudice girls, the same personality types always emerge. And, usually, it has less to do with the characters and more to do with what arriving at that decision says about you. 

Lizzie Bennet

See also: self-confessed Jo March, Carrie Bradshaw or Anne Boleyn

I am almost always a little irritated with the women who suggest that they are "the main one" – you know, the talented, creative, ahead-of-her-time dynamo at the centre of the narrative. "Yep, that's me! The best one!" 

The gall, I think. The gall! I tend to think that people who identify too readily as Jo are the same people who rig the Pottermore quiz so it tells them they are a Gryffindor.

The thing is though, while lots of people privately believe that they are the Lizzie and then wait around to be told that they are "the Lizzie Bennet" by their friends, actual Lizzie Bennets would never, ever do this. If Lizzie Bennet were real, she would insist that she is a Jo March and vice versa. You have to be forceful to be a Lizzie Bennet and claiming loudly that you are one is probably proof of that. 

Beth March

See also: Mary Bennet, Pam Mitford

It's always fascinating when someone goes straight for the weakest gazelle in the herd. It’s the literary equivalent of fancying the least attractive boy-band member, or cultivating a love of Bounty early on in life because they always seem to be what is left over. There’s a sense that if you pin your hope on the underdog, if you align yourself with objectively the least remarkable character, you are somehow being more “realistic”. People who choose this option will usually be very insistent that these characters – like poor, shitty-piano-playing Mary or poor, way-too-keen-to-die Beth or poor, didn’t-even-write-a-book Pam – have one flawless attribute that makes them deserving of their love and their kinship. Remember Mary’s love of books? Remember Beth’s kindness? Do not lower your expectations, poor game player. Reach for the skies. 

Amy March

See also: anyone who calls themselves a Slytherin, Lydia Bennet, Samantha Jones

My friend Tessa was once auditioning at Disneyland and stood in line with a woman who wanted, desperately, to be a villain. “I just want to be Cruella De Vil,” she kept repeating, whenever a princess hopeful was in earshot. 

People who root for Amy March usually do so because they a) were the youngest child and all the most interesting stuff seemed to happen before they were born, or b) enjoy playing devil’s advocate because it makes them feel a bit edgy. I am almost always this person. 

I get very, very shrill about Amy March: she straightened out Laurie! Jo’s book probably sucked anyway! Similar to the theory of the weak gazelle, being the antagonist reinforces how you never wanted to be The Main One, because you’re a realist who knows how the world works. Also, if people think I have an off-kilter moral compass, they will probably think I’m a laugh, too. 

The Other One

See also: Jane Bennet, early-seasons Charlotte York, Meg March

Ah, the other one. The other one! She’s usually the most conventionally attractive and usually doesn’t do or say much. In Charlotte’s defence, she grew to be one of the funnier characters on the show, but her legacy tends to be of the posh one with the good hair. The Other One is generally pretty stable and gets married. Everyone in the narrative seems to love her, but the reader never seems to know why because they don’t even say anything funny or shag anyone. 

Watch out for people who say they are The Other One. They are, I think, hiding in plain sight – being sweet and pretty and middle of the road while trying to hide some huge secret. Never take your eye off The Other One. The Other One is planning something and she will do it so neatly that you will not even see it coming. 


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Photo: Jo March, Lizzie Bennett, Carrie Bradshaw
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