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The Ostler by Wilkie Collins and 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck.

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'The Ostler' by Wilkie Collins and 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck. 'The Ostler' was written by Wilkie Collins (1824-89), a Victorian novelist. Collins' work became popular because he wrote plots that often included mystery, suspense and crime. His stories always had extremely well constructed plots. Collins also reflected the Victorian era's interest in gothic stories. These are stories that contain supernatural or horror themes. Readers at this time enjoyed stories like 'The Ostler' and other work by Wilkie Collins like 'The Moonstone' and 'The Woman in White', although sometimes the events were a little far-fetched and improbable.'The Ostler' supports this, as it is improbable that a hallucination could in fact come to life. John Steinbeck (1902-68) was born in California and used the state as the background to his early stories and novels. Steinbeck, like his characters George and Lennie, had worked on a ranch like the one in 'Of Mice and Men'. He was shocked by the plight of many agricultural workers, whose lives were thrown into disorder during the depression in farming. This occurred in California, during the 1930's. Steinbeck's novella, 'Of Mice and Men' is effective as he was able to describe in depth the emotions that those who worked hard on the land felt. He was able to empathise with his characters, as he had experienced these hardships himself. This means that readers are able to sympathise with the workers far more. The book, at the time, was an extremely successful way to draw attention to a serious issue. Although the book doesn't dictate the rights of workers, nor bombard you with figures, the situation of the men on the ranches is still portrayed effectively. The message still gets across due to Steinbeck's excellent use of the emotions and empathy. Both 'Of Mice and Men' and 'The Ostler' begin with journeys in unpleasant circumstances. In 'The Ostler', the reader first learns of Isaac Scatchard and his 'ill luck'. ...read more.


Similarly, they are both destructive and dangerous. Rebecca Murdoch is dangerous because she is the woman of the dream, who haunts Isaac's life from then on. She, effectively, ruins his life. This is because she achieved her dream to be truly happy. Curley's wife is also like this. She could be seen to 'haunt' the men, constantly hanging around and bothering them. She spoils their lives as she dampens the atmosphere whenever the men are thinking positively. Also, the stories contain characters that attempt to protect the person they love. Similarly, both characters fail in their mission. The protective character in 'The Ostler' is Mrs.Scatchard, Isaac's mother. She wants Isaac to stay away from Rebecca as soon as she sees her. She knows she is the girl of the dream. 'Be warned, oh, my son! Be warned! Isaac! Let her [Rebecca] go and do you stop with me!' The protective character in 'Of Mice and Men' is George. He tries to look after Lennie and tells him 'Well, you keep away from her [Curley's wife], 'cause she's a rat-trap if I ever saw one.' Unfortunately, Lennie doesn't heed this advice and it results in his death. There are another two characters that are very alike, Isaac and Lennie. Each of the characters has a partner, someone they depend on to help them cope. Lennie has to almost completely rely on George, as he can't look after himself. Lennie is mentally ill and even remembering just little pieces of information are a serious challenge. George has to be there to prompt Lennie all of the time. Isaac is slightly different to this. He depends on someone, his mother, but not quite so much as Lennie. His mother is more of a guide and, although he goes out into the world by himself, she keeps him in-line. The pair are also alike physically. Both do jobs that are typical 'physical' tasks as Lennie is a ranch hand that lifts bails of hay and moves large bits of machinery all day long. ...read more.


This interests the reader as they imagine themselves in the character's places, they wonder if they could shoot their best friend. Curley's wife is also appealing to the readers, as they begin to wonder which one of the workers will give in to this flirty, pretty, yet dangerous, woman. Broken dreams also feature in the book. They appeal to the reader greatly as you wish so hard that George, and especially Lennie, get their little dreams of happiness. When they don't, it brings home the apt title of the book. That no matter how hard people try, things go wrong. I prefer 'Of Mice and Men' to 'The Ostler' as I find Steinbeck's work has more emotional death. In 'Of Mice and Men' you always know how the men truly felt and that this was accurate, because of Steinbeck's empathy of the experiences. Also, I find the more modern themes to the book more interesting. To me, 'The Ostler's theme was too unlikely and unrealistic for me to enjoy and this type of supernatural horror is unappealing to me. I enjoyed the themes of 'Of Mice and Men' far more than those in 'The Ostler' as there were many more relevant themes in the story, like friendship and racism. There was a lot to think about in 'Of Mice and Men' and it meant I got a lot more out of the text. The themes in the story are also more inspiring and I discovered that Steinbeck's treatment of friendship was immensely moving. To me, this type of writing that changes the way people think and makes them consider exactly what their life means. Personally, I found 'The Ostler' simply meandered on and I didn't feel I'd learnt or gained anything at the end. 'Of Mice and Men' could be seen as a piece of propaganda that was partly produced to portray the appalling working conditions of ranch workers, but also it was a plea to change the lives they had. For these reasons, 'Of Mice and Men' is the book that appealed to me most directly. 1 ...read more.

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