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In "Of Mice and Men" is Curley's Wife a Hero or a Villain?

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English: GCSE Controlled Assessment ? Of Mice and Men Heroes and Villains: Explore the ways Sympathy and/or Dislike of a character is created in Of Mice and Men. Even before plunging into profound depths of Steinbeck?s Of Mice and Men, it is unequivocal that the novel is a microcosm of American life in the 1930s. As a result of the Great Depression, the setting is replete with hardships and suffering which immensely mould the reader?s ambivalent feelings towards the most dominant female character in this novella: Curley?s Wife. Steinbeck?s depiction of this flirtacious but ?lonely? temptress has the reader leaping from heartbreaking sympathy to nurturing an intense abhorrence for Curley?s Wife. From the onset of her introduction, Curley?s Wife is immediatley condemned to the reader?s aversion because the author depicts her character as a threat to not just George and Lennie, but their aspirations to ?live off the fatta the land?. The author intends to establish Curley?s Wife by portraying her as an ominous threat from the very beginning; as ?the rectangle of sunshine was cut off? by her mere first appearance. Steinbeck?s particular use of the word ?sunshine? correlates symbolically to hope which is derived from the main theme in this novel ? the American Dream, or rather a paradise that has resulted in false hope flourishing in their hearts. ...read more.


From the very beginning, they objectify her as a ?bitch?, ?tart? and ?rattrap? and consequently a sense of inequality and discrimination becomes palpable. The reader?s witness Curley?s Wife?s degradation amongst the men but the baseless accusations of the prejudiced workers is what results in sympathy for the only woman who is confined on a ranch teeming with misogynistic men. Once again, our feelings of sympathy and dislike for Curley?s Wife wrestle with each other when she unceremoniously vents out a vicious revenge on Crooks. Steinbeck integrates the recurring theme of power with a detestably manipulative side of Curley?s Wife. This is vividly illustrated as she directly commands Crooks, ?you keep your place then, Nigger?. The key use of the word ?Nigger? is integral to demonstrating effectively how Curley?s Wife is aware of the social hierarchy that exists on the ranch but the fact that she also acknowledges how she can exploit Crooks low position in the racist society of America is what represents a malignant type of manipulation ? thus, building dislike. Furthermore, Steinbeck shocks the reader into disliking Curley?s Wife as she threaten to get him ?up strung on a tree? ? accordingly, portraying how Curley?s Wife manipulatively exploits her position in the hierarchy as a white woman in society and seeks out Crooks? weakness in an attempt to belittle the men and assert the very little power she has for self-satisfaction. ...read more.


Loneliness plagues Curley?s wife ? its effects on her are heightened in the reader?s perspective when Steinbeck reminds them that she was the only woman on the ranch in the midst of the Great Depression which hardened those around her ? thus, the reader pities this character as she is confined in solitude by men who are driven by baseless prejudice in a sexist society. Surrounded by the brutal atmosphere of isolation and instilled prejudice; but protected by a tenacious outer shell layered with manipulation, promiscuity and a cold defence mechanism, Curley?s Wife proves to be quite the challenge when deciding whether to sympathise or despise. Steinbeck has created a complex character whom, ultimately, dislike for her is quite temporary as the book progresses because he portrays the woes and heartbreaking reality of being a woman in a time where paradise was a purpose designed and considered achievable only for men. Most importantly, there is a tangible transformation during the entirety of the book from what we perceive as ?tart? to a ?sweet and young? character that falls prey to a cruel twist of fate. Ultimately, this summarises Steinbeck?s intentions for the reader to feel compassion for Curley?s Wife and I, for one, certainly climbed from the depths of dislike to a more forgiving stance. ...read more.

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