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Is Curleys wife a tragic figure?

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Is Curley's wife a tragic figure? Throughout the book 'Of Mice and Men', Steinbeck portrays the character of Curley's wife as unfortunate and a bit of an outcast. 'Well you keep away from her, cause she's a rattrap if ever I seen one'. But to what extent can she be regarded as a tragic character? The first time we hear about Curley's wife, she is described as a 'tart' by another farm worker. This is because she is lonely so she hangs around the other farm workers wearing 'red mules' with 'red ostrich feathers' and 'red finger nails'. Steinbeck uses the colour red to show she is dressing like a 'tart' because the colour red at the time was associated with prostitutes. 'I ain't never seen nobody like her'. The ranch hands, however, want nothing to do with her, so they ignore her, and so she becomes an outcast. ...read more.


'I'll kill the big son-of-a-bitch!' Curley's wife spends most of her time scheming ways to get attention and company from the other men. There are no other women on the ranch, and this is because men's lifestyles at the time meant they were always travelling and never settled down and got married. This is why none of the other ranch workers have wives for her to talk to, and therefore no one else on the ranch understands her, or her situation. 'Ranch with a bunch of guys on it ain't no place for a girl, specially like her!' Throughout the book, the reader does learn a little about Curley's wife's past, and about how a guy 'who was in the pitchers' said he was 'gonna put [her] in the movies' once he was back in Hollywood, and how she never received the letter. Curley's wife says that she thought her 'ol' lady stole it', and this shows the reader how na�ve and easily led she is, and also the reason she was so desperate to leave home, and why she married Curley. ...read more.


It explains her behaviour and finally makes the reader feel sorry for her, because in the rest of the book this is difficult, despite her tragically horrible situation. I think that Curley's wife is an incredibly tragic character. The fact that she was so desperate to escape from home that she married Curley, and she was so na�ve and had no one to tell her and advise her that it was such a bad idea. Also she had no purpose in life, no one to talk to, or to love and treat her well, that she turned so sour and bitter that she ruined the few moment s of company that she could snatch at. Even the fact she is not loved and wanted by the reader and is seen as 'trouble'. The only time her worries and problems are over is in death! These are all reasons to show to the high extent that Curley's wife was shown to be a tragic character. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This answer is a response to a question asking candidates to consider the extent to which Curley's wife in John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' can be considered a tragic character. A novel with many tragic characters, Curley's wife is ...

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Response to the question

This answer is a response to a question asking candidates to consider the extent to which Curley's wife in John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' can be considered a tragic character. A novel with many tragic characters, Curley's wife is perhaps one of the most poignant reflections of a doomed starlet in literature because she is damned to serve as nothing more as a possession to her controlling husband Curley. The candidate recognises this throughout their answer, addressing a number of reasons why Curley's wife is considered tragic in terms of how she is treated (by both the characters and the novelist) and also her pitiful existence of isolation and loneliness. The answer shows a good focus for the most-part but there are moments where the analysis could have gone deeper.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis shown is good but as stated earlier, some parts of the analysis are more convincing than others. There is a good level of understanding about what Steinbeck was trying to achieve with regard to Curley's wife; that she married Curley because she thought it would bring her happiness; that she believed that she would ever be a star; that she know needs to dress up like a prostitute and flirt with the ranch hands to simply be noticed; and the fact that her meddlings end up getting her killed, triggering off yet more tragedy of George and Lennie - the analysis is extensive, although a better level of analysis could be seen with regard to the consequences of her actions, rather then the potentiality of bad consequences (like her flirting getting the ranch hands fired), e.g. - how her death triggers the death of Lennie, etc. Other than that, the analysis is sound.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) is very good. There is good evidence to suggest that the candidate takes care in their written expression and uses the English language accurately to convey their analysis well. A few minor typing errors hinder the QWC mark slightly, as does a limited use of less complex punctuation that would otherwise give a far more confident air to this answer.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 18/03/2012

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