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How is Curley's Wife presented in 'Of Mice and Men'? Do you find her portrayal a sympathetic one?

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How is Curley's Wife presented in 'Of Mice and Men'? Do you find her portrayal a sympathetic one? In of mice and men, Curley's Wife is presented in many various ways. At first impression, she comes across as the seductive, troublemaker the ranchers see her as. However, as the story progresses, we learn that this is only one of many sides to a very lonely woman. The readers sympathy for this character also changes throughout the novel, as her secrets are revealed and the real Curley's Wife is found. Curley's Wife is a very complex character. The reader's first impression of her is created before she actually appears in the book. We find out what the workers think of Curley's Wife through Candy when George and Lennie first arrive at the ranch. Candy, who considers Curley's Wife to be the reason for everything wrong in the whole of Soledad, creates an image of Curley's Wife in the reader's mind as a flirtatious tramp who's "got the eye." ...read more.


and calls her several names including "jail bait," Rat trap" and a "bitch," which proves this is how she is first presented in the book. In Curley's Wife's second appearance in Crooks' room, the reader discovers why Curley's Wife acts as such a temptress, and begins to feel sympathy for the character when it is discovered she is in fact extremely lonely. We learn that she uses flirting and seduction as a way of gaining attention and spending time with others. She uses the excuse of looking for Curley to find some company, but then slips up, admitting she knew where Curley had really went. She then begins to become more aggressive when they ask her to leave, saying "Think I don't like to talk to somebody ever' once in a while? Think I like to stick in that house alla time?" She also begins to snap back at the men and "flares up," throwing them insults, calling them "bindle stiffs" and confesses again to her loneliness by asking herself why she is even talking to them, "an' likin' it because they ain't nobody else." ...read more.


Steinbeck never names Curley's Wife so she is defined by her relationship to Curley and not as an individual person with her own name. Her namelessness also reinforces how insignificant she is on the ranch and how little she is respected by the others. In her aggressiveness and frustration, Curley's Wife lowers herself to blackmailing Crooks, ("You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?") showing that even though she is insignificant and disrespected, she still has power and control over them to get whatever she wants. Her confrontation in Crooks' room is the first time Curley's Wife mentions her dream, which is revealed in more detail nearer her murder. She tells Lennie, Crooks and Candy "A guy tol' me he could put me in pitchers..." Later in the novel, Curley's Wife appears again. This time, she is alone with Lennie in the stable. She is wearing her cotton dress with the red ostrich feather mules again, signifying what is to come. When he tells her he's not supposed to talk to her, she asks him "why can't I talk to you? I never get to talk to nobody. I get awfully lonely." ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This essay is developing very well but peters out here, quite incomplete, just before Curley's wife dies. Very little is said about what she means to Curley or his jealousy of her speaking to other men.

There is little context given in the introduction, yet the social context of the novel, including attitudes to race and gender, is important in understanding how Curley's wife is presented. There is no attempt at a conclusion, where the main findings of the analysis could be summarised.

Sentence and paragraph construction are mostly well managed and quotations are skilfully incorporated into the essay. In all, the essay represents some promising work but more needs to be done.

3 stars

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 10/06/2013

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