Jo spends quite a long time in New York, about 8 months. When she sees Friedrich for the first time she is immediately attracted to him. In fact, she checks him out multiple times during her stay at Mrs Kirk. “When the parlour door opened and shut someone began to hum ”Kennst du das Land” like a big bumblebee it was dreadfully improper I know, but I couldn't resist the temptation and lifting one end of the curtain before the glass door I peeped in. Professor Bhaer was there and while he arranged his books, I took a good look at him. A regular German, rather stout, with brown hair, stumbled all over his head, bushy beard, good nose, the kindest eyes I ever saw, and a splendid big voice that does one´s ears good after our sharp or slithered American gabble. His clothes were rusty, his hands were large, and he hadn´t a really handsome feature on his face. Except for his beautiful teeth yet I liked him. For he had a fine head, his linen was very nice and he looked like a gentleman”. Based on Jo´s first impression of Friedrich she seems to be completely enthralled by him.

This is what Little Women fan Melodie Ellison has to say about Friedrich´s looks ”I think part of why people act like Friedrich is not attractive is because of the well known Louisa May Alcott quote about intentionally making a funny match for Jo. ”I wouldn´t be at all surprised if she didn´t quite mean that. Laurie was conventionally attractive. There are men in our current times, that fall into the same category. Men like Zac Efron. For example, if you were to ask me what I think of Zac Efron I'll tell you that he is handsome but I am not personally attracted to him. Like Jo I prefer my men bearded and a little stout but most importantly intelligent, hardworking and kind. I think folks who can´t accept an older less hot version of the professor fail to understand his and Jo´s relationship. She respected him and he her and for her, that was the ultimate sexiness”. One of the biggest misconceptions about little women is that Jo is only based on Louisa. Louisa wrote Jo to be an idealized version of herself and there are elements in Jo that come from women who Louisa admired. I would argue that Louisa´s friend Elizabeth Powell was the true model for the 15-year-old Jo. Based on the letter exchange between Elizabeth and Louisa, Elizabeth wasn´t too keen on the idea of marriage which is understandable since she was only 16. Elizabeth did fell in love and married 10 years later and it would seem that she continued being a model for Jo. First for Jo March and then for Jo Bhaer. Her life was still very similar to the book Jo. Louisa was the complete opposite. Louisa had a huge crush on her father´s best friend philosopher Waldo Emerson. Louisa wrote love letters to him but she never sent them and she used to sit under his window singing Migon´s song. Mignon´s song is a song from Goethe´s novel, Wilhelm Meister´s apprenticeship. Which was one of Louisa´s favourite books. Emerson was one of the many models for Friedrich. The main model was philosopher Henry Thoreau who merited Louisa´s life long affection. When Jo meets Friedrich for the first time he is singing Mignon´s song. When Jo writes her letter home she says that the letter is rather ”Bhaery” and that she is always interested in odd people. We can interpret this that Jo is fascinated by Friedrich´s eccentric-ism and this is where Jo finds her kindred spirit because all of her life she has considered herself as odd and not fitting.
One of the reasons why Jo´s and Laurie´s relationship, can never be a relationship between equals was that Laurie was looking for a mother figure in Jo, and Friedrich being older and more mature than Laurie is a paradox of that. ”I was in our parkour last evening and Mr Bhaer came in. With some newspapers for Mrs Kirk, she wasn´t there, but Minnie who is a little old woman introduced me very prettily. ”This is Mama´s friend Miss March” ”Yes, and she is jolly and we like her lots” added Kitty, who is an ”infant térrible”. We both bowed and then we laughed, for the prim introduction and the blunt addition were a rather comical contrast. Like their creator, Jo and Friedrich share their love for children. Already in the first novel, Jo escaped the female society and ran out to play with boys. In New York, Jo is more interested in the doings of Franz and Emil, than her female-charges, Kitty and Minnie. The more time Jo spends in New York, the more attractive Friedrich becomes, both physically and intellectually.

When spring arrives, she makes notice of the ”pleasant curves around his mouth”, ”his eyes that were never cold or hard”, ”his big hands that had a warm, long grasp that was more expressive than words”.
Check out the full video essay ”Love and Sex in Little Women” https://youtu.be/mzuK9xH54KQ