The of mice and men novel written by John Steinbeck was originally in the form of a play and was inspired by a line in a poem by Robert Burns’ ‘To a Mouse’, ‘The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft agley,’ which translates as The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew.
The book was set in 1930s America during the Great depression which conveyed many things but most particularly, the wall street crash as well as the weather, referred to in California as ‘the dust bowl’, the wall street crash resulted in poverty meaning that families were constantly travelling looking for whatever work they can find, including young boys as young as 8 years old working to provide for their suffering family, often they would live in Shante towns and the man of the family would venture alone looking for pittance, to provide just bread for their family. during the time of the great depression there was all types of prejudice most frequently racial, sexual and disabled this exiled them from the people and made them a minority group, meaning that loneliness is a particular factor of the great depression which is why the setting of the story is ironic. The majority of the story apart from the travel from weed is set in the town of Soledad in the Californian state which is a direct translation from Spanish for solitude which means aloneness this shows foreshadows the issue of loneliness from the very opening of the novel.
John Steinbeck presents the theme of Loneliness through many characters in his novel ‘Of Mice and men’ however I will be focusing on the only woman on the ranch, Curley’s wife.
When the character of Curley’s wife is first presented to us in the novel she is not described in a positive manor in fact Candy states she is a ‘tart’. When she enters the bunkhouse she described as being ‘heavily made up’ and the colour ‘red’ is the colour of danger, anger and passion. Red highlighted a lot in the description of her image, this foreshadows Curley’s wife’s fall towards the end of the novel in relation to the incident in weed with Lennie and the girl with a red dress. This peacocking effect show the reader she is seen to be flirtatious and attention seeking, her body language is presented in a sensual way ‘her body was thrown forward’. The word ‘thrown’ in this sentence is very powerful and has energy which coveys her intentions to use her sexual allure to try attain the men’s attention she so desperately craves.
Curley’s wife is given no name and only has status in relation to her husband. She is not treated as an individual but as a possession much alike ‘Candy’s dog. This proves that Curley’s wife is not thought of as an equal human being on the ranch she is just ‘Curley’s wife.’ Also Curley will only keep her company when he wants her, most likely for sexual relations, ‘any you guys seen my wife’, this show that although Curley is not a passionate and caring husband, he controls his wife when he wants, she is his and is obliged to do what he says, this scares a lot of men away from talking to her, this is show when candy says ‘you gotta husban’ this proves the intimidation Curley holds on the men. George is also scared of the trouble that will inevitably be caused, he warns Lennie off ‘don’t you even look at that bitch’ and calls her a ‘rattrap’ this foreshadows that there will be trouble in the novel and tells the reader that Curley’s wife’s loneliness is inflated because of the fear that Curley brings. Despite her because she is the only woman though her unpopular husband actually makes her an outcast on the farm. Nobody will want to converse with her because they fear her husband, and because they would automatically tar her with the same brush as they had him, which is to be extremely unreasonable and disrespectful, not to mention rude and very unfriendly.
Curley’s wife is at the bottom of the hierarchy, The only character she has power over is crooks, who suffers racial prejudice, much alike that of