• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the presentation of the American Dream in John Steinbeck's novella, "Of Mice and Men".

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the presentation of the American Dream in John Steinbeck's novella, "Of Mice and Men". The American Dream is a prominent theme in the novella "Of Mice and Men". The essence of the dream was that of self-sufficiency and the unalienable right of self-definition. Though the dream was continually changing the essence of it remained the same as that of the Founding Fathers in the 17th Century. The Founding Fathers, an assembly from Britain who were at odds with the religious status quo left for America in search of a more egalitarian society. The landing of the Founding Fathers sparked at first the notion of self-definition and followed by this what could be considered as the ideal of "rugged individualism". Eventually, as the eastern coast of America became densely populated these original ideals evolved into The Dream of the Frontier. People answered the cry of "Go west, my son" and sought both the unclaimed lands on the fringes of civilisation and the freedom and economic opportunity they represented. In this essay I will concentrate not only on the theme of the American Dream and the way Steinbeck presents it but also on the bastardisation of the dream and its continuing evolution. The original American Dream was one that was centred on individuality and freedom, though in the novella we see it presented through a variety of characters as a dream that has become materialistic and essentially corrupt. Throughout the novella there are a multitude of dreams. The most obvious and probably most important is the true ideal dream of George and Lennie which is representative of the Dream of the Frontier and even the truly spiritual ideals of the Founding Fathers. Their dream, later also to be the dream of Candy and Crooks, is one that mirrors the original American Dream of self-sufficiency. However, we doubt the true nature of this dream especially because George never reveals the location of this ranch. ...read more.

Middle

Whit also treasures the magazine: "And then he went to his box shelf and laid the magazine carefully in" Furthermore one of the main appeals of the dream not only to George but later to also Candy is the idea of reaping what you sow which I have discussed earlier. Bearing this in mind, we must consider whether the dream is realistic. At first the dream may seem an attainable target; it is not until we see the harsh reality of ranch life and its itinerant workers, who all have a dream, that we recognise that this dream is not going to materialise. However when Candy gets involved and a significant sum of money made available the reader may feel that it is going to become true. Nevertheless the dream does not realise and upon re-reading we see the reasons for this. Even from the title of the novella however we are predisposed to feeling that the dream will not be realised. The title "Of Mice and Men" initiates a sense of tragic inevitability, recalling the popular poem by Robert Burns "To a Mouse". The poem states that the "best laid schemes of mice and men ... often go awry". In the novella this is representative of the dreams of George and Lennie who are also searching for a place to live instead of the nomadic lifestyle. However, due to the cruel exigencies of Fate and the mechanised world these dreams are shattered. The mechanical plough in the poem is mirrored in the novella with Carlson's Luger pistol. This poem is in fact in complete contrast with the American Dream which George and Lennie so desperately yearn for. So even from the title we are presented with the images that the world is cruel and fate is harsh. The dream of George and Lennie also soon becomes the dream of Candy, the "old swamper" of the ranch. ...read more.

Conclusion

an' had nice clothes" This materialistic dream of Curley's wife is extremely different to that of the other dreams in the novella as it is centred on wealth. Her dream's ideals are not that of companionship and freedom like those of the dream of George and Lennie but self-gratification. It is a debasement of the original American Dream and is also representative of the harsh lifestyle of women. It is ironic that Curley's wife must use men in order to fulfil her dream and that they only need her because she is "real purty". It is clear that these men who claimed to be in the movies only wanted her as a sexual object. Though she is incapable of accepting that she will never be in the movies, she easily blames it on her mother. By her blaming her mother we see it is a convenient way of deluding herself into thinking she could have been in the movies. This is another example of self-deception. The clothes and wealth are what really appeal to her, as she is young and na�ve. Curley's wife's dream of a career in Hollywood is very unrealistic, in contrast to George and Lennie's basic dream, which also did not come true, this dream is totally impractical. Her dream is eventually shattered by her death, but in truth it had been denied her by society a long time before. Tragically she is perhaps the least free of all the characters as even her superficial and na�ve dream of escape was in the past and entirely reliant on the men who ere in fact exploiting her. In conclusion "Of Mice and Men" is a deeply pessimistic book. It at once demonstrates how dreams are necessary to make life worth living and at the same time demonstrates that in the barren environment of Depression hit America they are inevitably destroyed. Discuss the presentation of the American Dream in John Steinbeck's novella, "Of Mice and Men". Bimal Sualy 10L Page 1 of 7 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. Explore John Steinbeck's presentation in Of Mice and Men of the culture and experience ...

    It is a beautiful setting and a lovely time of day, as it is the late evening of a hot day. The river runs 'deep' and it is 'warm', the river had 'slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight before reaching the narrow pool'.

  2. Of Mice and Men. Explore the theme of the American dream and importance ...

    You know he's going to come back. Spose you didn't have nobody. Spose you couldn't go into the bunk house and play rummy because you were black". This shows how the other men treat crooks because of his colour and how lonely he gets without anyone to talk to, to express his feelings.

  1. Of Mice and Men

    He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. He was capable of killing a fly on the wheeler's butt with a bull whip without touching the mule.

  2. Why I think Candy was added by John Steinbeck to his book

    George must teach Lennie by example sometimes as Lennie often imitates George, like when George washed his face and neck before they reached the ranch. After George washed "Lennie, who had been watching, imitated George exactly". George will respect a group's leader, such as Slim, and will follow advice and

  1. In this assignment I will explain why the main characters in Willy Russell's "Blood ...

    different from other workers who drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a future and each other. But characters like Crooks and Curley's wife serve as reminders that George and Lennie are no different from anyone who wants something of his or her own.

  2. Of Mice And Men. Most characters in the novella have revealed their dreams to ...

    movies, she started to think that she could work in the film industry: "Coulda been in the movies an' had nice clothes". Some people may think that this is due to her upbringing: She probably was brought up with entertainment via a TV or newspaper in her town, so she may of aspired to work with them.

  1. How does Steinbeck convey his concerns about the American dream through his presentation of ...

    to stay away from her, saying ?don?t you even look at that bitch?. An immediate judgement is made upon Curley?s wife by George, implying that if after a short conversation George feels so strongly against her, then it is almost certain that she will make something go wrong for them.

  2. Of Mice and Men- In the extract we see that Crooks is very cynical ...

    Crooks takes pride in his room as is it one of the only things he can call his own, ?you got no right to come in my room.? Crooks is at first reluctant to let Lennie into his room. He is aware of the strict segregation on the ranch, but he is also grateful for the company.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work