Explore the way Curleys wife is presented and developed in Of Mice and Men

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Explore the way Curley’s wife is presented and developed in ‘Of Mice and Men’

John Steinbeck, in his novella ‘Of Mice and Men’, deliberately presents Curley’s wife as a character with no appellation, this pushes away the relationship between her and the reader. The fact that she has no appellation indicates to us that she is a generalised woman; a typecast of women in the 1930’s America, in which women were expected to stay at home to fulfil their housewife ‘duties’. Her appellation also indicates to us that she is the property of Curley, this dehumanizes her, she is thought of as an object.

Steinbeck first presents Curley’s wife as a flirtatious ‘tart’, and then develops her as a dangerous, vulnerable, and fragile character. Steinbeck ensures that the reader feels unsympathetic towards her in the inception, and throughout the novella, and then allows the reader to feel slightly sympathetic just afore her death, as we find out she is just a lonely woman full of dreams that are shattered. This is deliberately done once it is too late, her death is inevitable. This means that the audience’s sympathy will always lie with Lennie, not Curley’s wife.

In chapter 2, Candy introduces George and Lennie to the ranch, after Curley has his moment with George and Lennie, Candy states “wait’ll you see Curley’s wife…She got the eye”, immediately Candy’s description of her reveals (before the reader even meets her) that she is flirtatious and interested in men although she has a husband, and therefore she is a ‘tart’. This is dangerous since she is married to the boss’s son, who is always looking for an altercation. Candy also reveals that Curley has a “Glove fulla Vaseline”, this immediately portrays Curley’s wife as a sexual object. Indeterminately, she is first presented as a flirtatious ‘tart’, and a sexual object; these could potentially equal disaster in the future. Steinbeck has purposely introduced her in this way as he desires us to hate and possess no sympathy for her… except for Lennie.

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In this novella, Curley’s wife is referred to as a ‘tart’ because of her flirtatious behaviour, and also, she is described as a ‘girl’ as she is immature and vulnerable. However, the reader does not think of her as a ‘girl’, as she has “full, roughed lips”, “eyes, heavily made up”, and ‘red’ fingernails. The reader thinks of her as a woman, from the way her presence is described, and also the way she acts.

Curley’s wife is at times, a viciously unpleasant woman. In chapter 4, she enters Crooks Bunk house, after she is confronted by the three grown ...

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