Of Mice and Men essay

Submitted By robinno2
Words: 1097
Pages: 5

‘Of Mice and Men’ is a short novella written by John Steinbeck during the 1930’s Great Depression in America. This cataclysmic, tragic novella tells the story of two protagonist workers George Milton, A quick-witted man who is guardian and feels bounden duty to care for Lennie Small; a huge, lumbering, innocent and mentally handicapped with no ability to understand abstract concepts like death. His relationship with other characters on the ranch are therefore wrecked as our only lone female on the ranch Curley’s wife, who is simply treated like his possession. The novella symbolises the American Dream and the story reflects Steinbeck’s message about dreams is set out in the title of the novel that is taken from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse", which the line: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley" refers to the plight of a mouse who worked hard to build a nest, only to have it destroyed by a farmer. The message in the poem and the message in the novel are the same and it is a message that is very much about broken and unfulfilled dreams. This leaves the reader to wonder whether there is any hope for any relationship in 1930’s America.
On the ranch there is an estranged woman merely referred to as ‘Curley’s Wife’. Her lack of identity could imply she is not woman but rather a possession of her husband. This symbolises the women that were persecuted and controlled during the depression. She is shown to represent the loss of identity after being associated with something or someone. That is why she has no name; her identity is being someone's wife and have no other purposes and functions of her life. As this character develops we find through her relationships with other characters that she is not in fact the insignificant, nameless character we first perceive her as, but rather she is a relatively complex, charismatic character with much more to her than we first judged. “Coulda been in the movies, an’ had nice clothes” shows that she didn’t choose to be Curley’s wife but she have a dream of becoming a successful actress. She admits to Lennie that her marriage to Curley is an unhappy one, ‘I don’t like Curley. He ain’t a nice fella’. Unfortunately the sadness of not being able to fulfil her dream leads her to marry Curley, which in turn leads to the tragedy of her early death. It is interesting that, unlike George, Lennie and Candy, Curley’s wife’s dream is based in the past. Yet even though it is over and done with, she still clings to it as an important part of her identity and she still needs to talk about it, even if her only audience is Lennie. By having Curley’s wife discuss her broken dreams, Steinbeck creates another side to her character, a side we can feel more sympathy with and a contrast to her harsh sides. Candy the old swamper, informs to George that Curley “married a couple of weeks ago”, there is already rumours and gossips that Curley keeps his “hand soft for his wife” giving a negative impression of Curley’s wife and her relationship with her husband.
Curley’s Wife clearly dresses to stand out; much of her outfit is ‘red’, she had ‘full rouged lips’ and her hair ‘hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages’. Steinbeck uses repetition of the colour red in this entrance for a number of potential reasons: perhaps to emphasise her femininity and, in turn, emphasise her isolation as the only female on the ranch; perhaps to suggest she is dangerous, foreshadowing her tragic death and her role in the downfall of Lennie. This initial physical description of Curley’s Wife warns the reader that she is not to be trusted and to be wary of her. It also encourages the reader to perhaps form a critical opinion of her – especially combined with her figure ensuring that ‘the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway’ was ‘cut off’ – an ominous warning in a novella that uses light to signify happiness and optimism and anything that brings darkness to signify the antithesis of this. Upon Curley’s wife’s…