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Explore the ways Steinbeck creates sympathy for and dislike of Curleys wife.

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Introduction

Explore the ways Steinbeck creates sympathy for and dislike of Curley?s wife. In the novella ?Of mice and men?, Steinbeck introduces the complex character of Curley?s wife who evokes a mixture of emotions in the reader. Steinbeck uses various techniques to portray her character which creates both dislike and sympathy for her. As the story progresses, the reader?s perception of Curley?s wife is emphasized further. Curley?s wife is merely referred to as Curley?s wife. Her lack of identity implies that she is only an item to Curley and not an actual person. This illustrates a huge lack of respect for her. As a woman in the 1930?s, she would be socially inferior to men and perhaps Steinbeck portrays Curley?s wife in this light to allow the reader to recognize the inferior role of women. Hence, the reader presumes that Curley?s wife is an insignificant character and is not as important as the other men. ...read more.

Middle

Perhaps by plastering make-up onto her face like a mask, she is hiding all her insecurities. Steinbeck also describes her ?red fingernails? and ?her hair hung in little rolled clusters?. This insinuates to the reader that she is trying to get attention or that she is indeed a tart. The colour red is associated with passion, love and desire. On the contrary, it can also have negative connotations such as danger and caution. Her hairstyle was a fashionable style at the time, much favoured by movie stars. This suggests her attraction to the movies and foreshadows the reader?s discovering of her dream. Despite the paragraph?s description of her attempts to enhance her appearance, the reader is unsettled by the fact that ?her voice had a nasal, brittle quality?. Curley?s wife is criticised by Steinbeck for things she cannot change; her voice sounds unpleasant and the adjective ?brittle? indicates that her character is difficult to deal with and she has a spirit which could easily be broken. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Steinbeck mentions that she is a ?girl?; this suggests her innocence and vulnerability. This is perhaps surprising to the reader as it contrasts with her seemingly flirtatious, promiscuous character. When Curley?s wife dies, Steinbeck expresses that ?the meanness and the planning and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face?. The word ?ache? depicts that she was suffering intense physical pain and it also suggests that after all the stress and things life had placed on her; she has finally relaxed and is at ease. In brief, Steinbeck has portrayed Curley?s wife in such a way to manipulate and shift the reader?s emotions. At first, she is presented as a character to be disliked, due to her actions and her description. However as the story develops, more of Curley?s wife?s is revealed and the reader learns that her character has very human emotions and aspirations which make the reader relate and sympathise with her. ...read more.

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