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Explore and compare the characters, achievements and deaths of Lennie Small, from John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' and Bill Sikes from, Charles Dickens 'Oliver Twist'.

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Introduction

Wide Reading In this essay I will explore and compare the characters, achievements and deaths of Lennie Small, from John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' and Bill Sikes from, Charles Dickens 'Oliver Twist'. I have read both novels and enjoyed them immensely because of the wonderful characters, language and techniques used by the authors especially when describing the worlds they conjured within their novels. These two books also express perfectly the pioneering views of Dickens and Stienbeck; they both used their writings in an attempt to make their socialist views subtly heard by the masses. In the eras of Dickens and also Steinbeck, problems such as, racism, sexism, poverty and the class divide were simply accepted by society. These two authors saw the problems of their social structures, the discriminative attitudes of the people and wanted to make the public aware, being greatly frowned upon by some. Dickens and Steinbeck were soldiers of the same struggle and that is where the similarities between 'Of Mice and Men' and 'Oliver Twist' begin. Most of the characters in both novels represent the poverty that plagued both countries at the time the books were set, especially George and Lennie in 'Of Mice and Men'; the epitome of poverty in the USA. Their lives are an endless trek around California constantly looking for work, scratching a buck or two a day from the back breaking work they do on the ranches. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens wants us to feel nothing, but pure, unadulterated hatred for Sikes when he kills Nancy, so when Sikes finally dies we feel justice is done. This is slightly because of Dickens' audience, the Victorian public, being so religious and believing themselves to be so good hearted, would have demanded the death of Sikes and enjoyed the novel more without Sikes shadow hanging over the proceedings. Dickens being the man he was gives the people what they want. I prefer the way Steinbeck handles his murder scene purely because I think it is extremely clever. Steinbeck's' characterisation of these two characters has been leading up to this moment and it comes together perfectly. He intends us to feel sorry for Curley's wife, but no hatred of any kind towards Lennie. Even though we have just heard of all the false promises she has been made in her life along with her failed ambitions, her belief they could still come true, all the times she has been sexually abused and the fact that she is still oblivious to all of this, we still can strongly empathise with Lennie. He is as innocent as the day he was born, a child trapped in a mans body. Lennie doesn't have a scratch of malice in him and we could never feel anger toward a character we have come to love. ...read more.

Conclusion

When George produced Carlson's' Lugar I was on the edge of my seat right up until the end of the novel. Sikes' death had to be quick to give a real sense for the excitement of the chase. Lennies death had to be draw out and milked for all it is worth, not solely for tension, but to give a character we have become so familiar with and very fond of, a memorable and proper send off. Thanks to George's skill with words and his love for him, Lennie could not be more content when he dies. The last thing I wanted was for Lennie to die, but it is inevitable. I found myself sating 'don't do it George,' but it is much better that he dies like this than face the men from the ranch. He must die; he cannot go on being tortured by what he has done. Lennie's death shares some similarities to Curley's wife's; they both die quickly and painlessly and like Curley's wife his soul is take to heaven. The gunshot rolling up the heavenly hills of Salinas makes you feel that Lennie has been released. To summarise, these to classic novels have many things in common, but also sharply contrast each other. It's this that makes comparing the two so fascinating, as you new things they share and interesting differences every time you read them. It seems strange, but pleasing that two such comparable novels could come from different centuries, different, different countries, but share the same messages and morals. 1. Tom Savage ...read more.

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