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Animal Imagery in 'Of Mice and Men'

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David Jones Animal Imagery in ?Of Mice and Men? Mr Mander 10EN/A2 Animal Imagery in ?Of Mice and Men? Throughout the novel Of Mice And Men Steinbeck uses a range of animal imagery to create both an atmosphere to the story and to give detail to accentuate the characteristics of his main characters. Even the title has its own form of animal imagery because of where the phrase originated. The title ?Of Mice And Men is actually taken from a poem by Robert Burns called "To a Mouse". Burns wrote the poem when he destroyed a mouse's nest while ploughing his field. In the poem it says, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go askew." meaning that the when you make plans they tend to go wrong. In the novella the same thing happens. Everyone has plans but they go all wrong. Steinbeck often uses reference to animals to deepen the readers understanding of a characters in his descriptions. Throughout the story Lennie is portrayed as a bear. On Page 2 he says, ?Dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws.? This first puts Lennie into perspective as it makes you picture a large man that is very clumsy and an almost childlike sense, as if he couldn?t be bothered. ...read more.


Secondly, Lennie?s relationship with mice. Mice represent the false hope of a safe space for Lennie. The title is a good hint that mice are important here, but the first mouse we encounter is a dead one. Actually, it?s a dead one that Lennie keeps in his pocket to pet. This is a huge clue: Lennie doesn?t care much about death, and he?s more concerned with comfort ? remembering this makes Lennie?s death a bit more palatable. He?ll be more comfortable if dead by his friend?s gentle hand than with a violent end from Curley or the cage of an asylum. Mice are a source of comfort for Lennie, as he links them to his Aunt Clara. She throughout the book is always described as a nice person. In fact the only things that Lennie can remember about Aunt Clara is the way she gave him mice (Page 10-11). This is also one of the first times that you become aware of Lennie?s problem with killing things even though it is only meant to be a fond memory though as George says, ?You always killed them? and next ?You aint to be trusted with no live mice?. He likes to pet soft things, which leads him to kill the mice, his puppy (P95), and Curley?s wife (P103) ...read more.


On page 2 however it describes the scene peacefully where everything is gentle and calm but the quotes from 109 ?A silent head and beak lanced down and plucked it out by the head, and the beak swallowed the water snake while its tail waved franticly.? And ?The heron pounded the air with his wings, jacked itself clear of the water?. This is a contrast as Steinbeck now is starting to describe the scene violently as if it is empathizing there is something bad that is going to happen. As it has been shown Steinbeck uses a wide range of animal imagery to elaborate on his characters and to build a more vivid picture of the atmosphere. The reader is given a clearer picture of Lennie?s character through the reference to rabbits and mice, both gentle and small creatures whilst Curley, the villain of the story is described as a terrier. Furthermore in the case of Candy the reader is made to see similarities between him and his dog showing how in the society of the time, humans like animals will outlive there usefulness and they will no longer be treated with respect in their society. He also uses the repeated use of Heron?s and rabbits to create subtle changes in the atmosphere that have taken place in the story from one of optimism to one of inevitability that the dreams will not come true. ...read more.

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