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How is Curleys wife presented and developed throughout the novel?

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Introduction

How is Curley's wife presented and developed throughout the novel? Curley's wife is an example of how our perception of a character can change without the character actually changing. She is portrayed as both a villain and victim throughout the course of the novel. Despite Steinbeck's rendering she emerges as a relatively complex and intricate character who through the course of the novel, our feelings become sympathetic towards. Throughout the novel she is shown in different lights, as from section 2 to section 5 in the novel, her character evolves and her sweeter and more vulnerable side is shown in contrast to her first appearance which portrays her as imposing and a trouble maker. Throughout the course of the novel, it appears women are treated with contempt and Steinbeck generally depicts women as trouble-makers who bring ruin on men and drive them mad. Aside from wearisome wives "Of Mice and Men" offers limited rather misogynistic descriptions of women who are either dead, maternal figures or prostitutes. We first hear about Curley's wife when Candy describes her to George. He describes her using expressions such as "she got the eye" and "tart". ...read more.

Middle

This particular section portrays her as petty and cruel and as a desperate captive of ranch living. Curley's wife understands the innate competitive urge for possessing women which tears men apart, and she knows that she is cast as a villain in this eternal game of one-upmanship. In "Of Mice and Men" she is especially comparable to Crooks; both are obviously intelligent and perceptive of themselves as well as others, and both contain a deep bitterness stemming from their mistreatment. Both contain a bleak and accurate insight of the fundamental nastiness of people and they are discriminated and isolated, one because she is a woman and one because of the colour of his skin. Ultimately though, it appears as though she is frightened of her husband as she sneaks off to her house (her patriarchal prison). It appears Curley's wife has been trapped by life and however brazen and manipulative she may be, in the novel she is a comparatively powerless figure in the novel and is perhaps an object of the readers' sympathy, as she has no friends, no future, no respect and is trapped in a stifling and unhappy marriage as well as being marginalized and oppressed by her husband. ...read more.

Conclusion

having never reached her full potential, and it appears no friends or her husband is going to mourn her death to the extreme. Although she is the catalyst of the last sections and the reason for Lennie's death and her own death, we feel empathetic towards her as she died due to a desire for human contact and friendship. Her death signifies the death not just of her dreams but of other important characters in the book whose dreams are also ultimately broken and this lingers in the mind of the reader, long after the novel is read. Overall she is first shown as a negative character and a villain and towards the end her positive features are gradually revealed and she becomes more a victim than a villain. It is a credit to Steinbeck that he is able to reveal the complexity of all humans in his depiction of Curley wife and draw us in right up to the very last page where the story ends in even more unthinkable tragedy. In the end 'Of Mice and Men' is a story of broken dreams and loneliness both of which are evident in Curley's wife and her life signifies the broken dream just like so many of the characters in the book. ...read more.

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