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Comparison between the portrayal of women in ‘The Ostler’ by Wilkie Collins and in ‘Of Mice And Men’ by John Steinbeck

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Wider Reading coursework Comparison between the portrayal of women in 'The Ostler' by Wilkie Collins and in 'Of Mice And Men' by John Steinbeck In both the stories 'The Ostler' by Wilkie Collins and 'Of Mice And Men' by John Steinbeck the authors have used the females, who are Rebecca in 'The Ostler' and Curley's wife in 'Of Mice and Men' to play important roles in developing the plot. Both of them considerably shape and alter the lives of those other characters around them. In 'The Ostler' Rebecca is a young lady who meets Isaac and later marries him. She totally changes his life. However she has a darker side and later plots to kill him leaving Isaac living in fear for his life. Similarly in 'Of Mice and Men' Curley's wife ends up causing the death of one of the principal characters, Lennie. So we can see that in both stories the women either threaten or cause the death of a main character. Both the stories were written some time ago, the Ostler being the older of the two, written in 1855. So the Ostler was set in the Victorian age. We know that in the Victorian age there were little opportunities for unmarried women. Rebecca is a good example of this. Before she met Isaac she was dependant on drugs. This is suggested on page 11 when Isaac meets Rebecca in the Chemist's whilst he is buying medicine for his mother. ...read more.


Isaac lived in fear wondering if she return and try to kill him like in the dream. He takes precautions to protect himself. Then one day she returns and tries to kill him. So he leaves. From that day forward he lived in fear. So we can see that her relationship with men, in this case Rebecca is dominating. She seems to be in control of the relationship. For example when she won't hand over the knife. Or after they have the argument when Isaac hits her she says "No man has ever struck me twice and my husband shall have no second opportunity. Set the door open and let me go. From this day fourth we shall see each other no more." Before Isaac even had a chance to reply she had left. She got a say in what happened and she ruled her own life. She also came off better. Isaac continued to live in fear but she had no one to fear. Curley's wife, however, seems to be more vulnerable. We know Curley is violent from the fight in the barn with Lennie. He is very strict with her and he is the dominant one. See lives in fear of him. During the whole story of 'The Ostler' we discover very little about Rebecca's past. She is a suspicious character all the way through who has an atmosphere of mystery surrounding her. The writer keeps us gripped by using suspense. ...read more.


But he grips the hair to tight and she panics and screams. Scared that George will hear and be angry, Lennie tries to silence her my covering her mouth. Not knowing his own strength he breaks her neck and kills her. So Lennie runs away. When Curley discovers his wife dead he goes out in search of Lennie to kill him. Fortunately George finds Lennie first and kills him painlessly to stop him suffering a painful execution from Curley. So once again the female character has something to do with a death. However there are a further two things which contrast to Rebecca. First of all we never find out her name. This may be to make us feel like we don't know her until when she reveals her past. This again gives her an air of mystery. Why is every one so suspicious of her? Why is she always flirting with men? Secondly she doesn't have the dominant role in her marriage. She lives in fear of Curley. The two writers, Wilkie Collins and John Steinbeck, both had different aims in their stories. Wilkie Collins aimed to entertain by telling a horror story so any information we are told about life in Victorian times was not on purpose but just for setting and context. However, John Steinbeck was aiming to tell us about life in that time. Although the women weren't the main character they both played important roles in influencing the plot. So we can see that both women were used to illustrate the different types of relationships between women and men, how they were treated and want they longed for in life - love. ...read more.

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