Way back on New Year's, Meg and Jo went to a party. While Jo was getting to know Laurie better (not like that! it's the 1860s, dudes) Miss Meg March was hanging with her new rich friend, Sallie Moffat. Despite not being able to walk a step in her very silly shoes, Meg managed to snag an invite to Sallie's house later in the year for two weeks of partying and gaiety.
Later in the year finally arrives, and Meg is packed off to the Moffats' house with an unfashionable umbrella and only one ball dress. Rolling with a rich crowd suits her, and she soon finds herself putting on airs and graces, such as talking about fashion and using the occasional French phrase. Ooh la la!
Unlike the March girls, the Moffat sisters are not saintly. They're gossipy, they're vain, and they use French phrases a whole lot. If this were a teen movie, they'd be giving Meg a hot girl makeover and making her look like a tramp. But this is Little Women, and... no, my mistake... that is what they do. Except minus the movie makeover montage and the Hillary Duff backing track.
So on the night of the Moffats' big party, Meg is all tarted up in a low cut dress with crimped hair. Not only that, but the dress? French. (I'm sensing some xenophobia here, Louisa May, and I can't say I like it.) The Moffats have also invited Laurie to the party, because they know that Meg's family have fallen on hard times and they think Marmee is out to snag richboy next door for her eldest daughter. For the record, they don't think this is a bad thing: after all, poor girls don't stand a chance unless they 'put themselves forward'.
I've always liked Laurie, but at this party he annoys the hell out me. He's all judgemental at Meg because she's showing her shoulders and like, is wearing her hair crimped. So he acts like he's just busted her working as an exotic dancer, and does Meg tell him to shove it? No, she practically hangs her head in shame and begs him not to tell her mother. Personally, I think he might be right about the hair, but the moral lecture? Not cool.
So a few days later, Meg returns to the March homestead feeling like a piece of trash, and fesses all to Marmee. Tearfully she admits that the Moffats made her up like a fashion plate and gossiped about Mrs March having 'plans' for her and Laurie. Marmee instantly forgives Meg - of course she does, she's Marmee and she's the perfect mother - and points out that the gossip was total BS. All she wants is for her daughters to be happy, and she'd rather they were happy old maids than miserable queens.
You know what? Mrs March may be a little too good to be true at times, but she's got the right idea. Little Women was first published just 50 years after Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and here's Marmee putting Mrs Bennett to shame with her progressive attitudes to her daughters' futures. Why, it's almost like she thinks her daughters are people in their own right. Go, Marmee!