Curley's Wife Presentation in 'Of Mice And Men'

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                                Curley’s Wife

Of Mice and Men is not kind in its portrayal of women. In fact, women are treated with contempt throughout the course of the novella. . Steinbeck generally portrays women as trouble makers who bring ruin on men and drive them mad. Curley’s wife, the only woman in the play, is a prime example of this destructive tendency as she walks round the ranch depicted as a temptress. Steinbeck’s initial portrayal of Curley’s wife shows her to be manipulative and flirtatious as she brings evil into men’s lives by tempting them in a way they cannot resist. Steinbeck has used the character of Curley’s wife to give the reader a full insight of women in the, male-dominated, world of the 1930s.

Curley’s Wife is first presented to us through the dialogue of ranch-hand Candy, when he describes her to George. We can she has little freedom and individuality as, it is not just here but, throughout the whole novella she is defined by her role, just a possession without a name and is known only by the company of the man she doesn’t even like. Steinbeck is demonstrating that the ranch hands never see her as a real person with an identity of her own. Rather, they see her as something belonging to Curley. The lack of name is one leading cause of her loneliness as Curley’s visible power and control over her means most men on the ranch try to avoid her for fear of losing their job.  Steinbeck is making a bigger point that women were not important enough to have names and that men in American society did not regard women as individuals. When introducing Curley’s Wife, Candy refers to her as a ‘a tart!' Candy has been on the ranch for many years so his views are representative of the other men. It is a very biased opinion therefore alienates her from George and Lennie before they have even met as it doesn't allow them to form their own judgement of her. It also means that the reader's first opinion of her is a negative making it harder to like her character from the start. This reflects the sexual double standards of American Society as it is all right for the men to visit a brothel, but if a bored and unhappy young woman look with any interest at another man she is frowned upon. Steinbeck is showing how women were hardly regarded by men as equals nor were expected to be taken seriously.

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Another aspect of Curley’s Wife is revealed in Crooks room. When she fails to get a friendly response from Candy, Crooks and Lennie she insults them saying ‘they left all the weak ones here’ when she is intimidating the weaker characters suggests that she can only take her frustration out on them as they are unable to retaliate as they are the underdogs of the ranch making them easy targets. In order to make herself feel bigger she has to seek out those who are smaller. Another reason for her cruel behaviour is her profound loneliness as she is clearly ...

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