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How significant is the theme of violence in of mice and men?

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Introduction

How significant is the theme of violence in of mice and men? The novel 'of mice and men', written by John Steinbeck, is a tale of an extraordinary friendship between two ranch workers who fight for survival in the harsh times of the 1930s, the great depression of America. The essay concerns the role of violence throughout the novel and explores the theme of violence in different parts of the tale, as well as looking how specific characters use violence for different reasons. Specific areas of which the novel will explore are parts such as the death of Curlys wife, the fight between Curly and Lennie and the death of Lennie. The content of the book as a strong historic and social element, as well as a literary one. The social element refers to the way they lived. This would have been poorly, as they were in a great time of depression, where most of America lived in poverty. This also links to the historic element. America was very poor at the time. The literary element refers to the structure of the novel. The novel is written in play form, which makes it particularly easy to turn into a play. The theme of violence is a major theme in the novel, and the violence in speech between characters is a regular occurrence. This is noticeable in the speech between George and Lennie. From the very start of the novel we can see examples of George becoming irritated and enraged with Lennie. ...read more.

Middle

'Then Curlys rage exploded'. The word 'rage' emphasises Curlys anger and aggression, whilst the word 'exploded' suggests Curlys violence, and also signifies the suddenness and the destruction of Curlys rage. 'Curly was balanced and poised. He slashed at Lennie with his left, and smashed down his nose with a right'. The words 'smashed down his nose with a right' give a really detailed description and build an image of Lennie's nose being smashed. Not only does the quote contain this description but the words 'smashed' and 'slashed' are similar words as well alliteration. These two words build up the violence. The violence of Curly is soon stopped when Lennie grabs his hand. 'Curly was flopping like a fish'. This shows that when Lennie grabs his hand, Curly becomes weak and defenceless. A fish flopping is normally a sign that it is out of water and dying. Curly is in the fish's position at this time in the book, and is at the mercy of Lennie. Curly has turned into a poor defenceless animal. 'The flopping little man' also shows the reduction in his respect, and that his ego has been belittled by Lennies unintentional violence. Following on with the theme of violence, the killing of Curlys wife is the next point. Curlys wife enters the novel in section two. She is a major cause of tension and violence in the story. This is because most of the workers are scared of her, as she is Curlys wife and Curly is the boss' son. ...read more.

Conclusion

George reassures Lennie, and lets him know that he was never mad at him. This is George's way of saying goodbye and that he also loved him like a brother. 'No Lennie. I aint mad, I never been mad, and I aint mad. That's the thing I want ya to know'. This shows George hinting that he is sorry for the way he has treated Lennie. The scene changes the tone of the novel, as after the killing of Lennie, everything is relaxed and calm. All the tension of violence is released with a single gun shot, and the novel becomes much softer and relaxed. The conclusion to this essay is that violence is used so regularly in the novel to give the reader an idea of what life was like in the 1930s, and that life was a struggle for money, work and the American dream. Most of the aggression in the story comes from the masculine world of ranch life. Steinbeck is trying to put the point that American society in the 1930s was a vicious place to live in, and that the people were looking out for them selves and no one else. They were not afraid to stab someone in the back to improve there life. He is also saying the ranches were a main source of the violence, but also a vital money source. Violence in this novel is a very significant part, and keeps the reader entertained and interested. It adds excitement and encourages the reader to read on, and therefore is very important. 1 Connor Richardson ...read more.

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