How does Steinbeck create contrasting images of Curley’s wife in ‘Of mMice and mMen’?
How could a character with no name be so deep and complex? The novella ‘Of mMice and mMen’ uses symbolism and hidden meanings to add depth to the characters, Curley’s wife being a prime example. The novella offers contradicting descriptions and presentations of Curley’s wife making us hate and disapprove of her while the next moment we feel guilty and mourn her. Steinbeck creates contrasting images of Curley’s wife by using literary techniques such as pathetic fallacy, juxtaposition and irony.
When Curley’s wife is first introduced into the novella it isn’t in person, it is through rumours and gossip. Evidence of this is when George is talking to Candy and Candy describes Curley’s wife as a “tart” who has “the eye”. This provides the reader with only a description of a married woman who is immoral and only causes trouble for the ranch hands. Specifically, the word “tart” dismisses her as a person and rids the reader of any thoughts about her having feelings. All of this causes the reader to side with Candy’s opinion of Curley’s wife since it is the only one provided and we have yet to see a different side to her.
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Evidence is the quote “And the meanness and the plannings and discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face”. This technique seems like it wipes the slate clean for Curley’s wife and shows that she isn’t always scheming. When Steinbeck chose to connect the list of things that were gone from her face he used “and” instead of commas. This was to emphasize the number of things that were gone and make the list seem longer. This stirs up even more guilt within the reader as it seems that all the things they judged Curley’s wife for during her time of living were washed away so
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In the novella “Of Mice and Men” one of Steinbeck’s central character is Curley’s Wife. Steinbeck presents her as a dangerous and powerful due to his language techniques like metaphor, simile and structure. However in a misogynistic society she can also be seen as a lonely and vulnerable character. Steinbeck’s use of symbolism especially towards Curley’s wife creates a dangerous and powerful persona.
Steinbeck describes Curley’s wife as followed: “...wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up... she wore a cotton dress and red mules... She put her hands behind her back and leaned against the doorframe so that her body was thrown forward... Lennie’s eyes moved down over her body, and though she did not seem to be looking at Lennie she bridled a little” (31). Curley’s wife knows that her power, her only power, lies in her beauty and her position of actually being Curley’s wife.
The characters in “Of Mice and Men” have memorable personalities that we all can relate to due to their set archetypes. John Steinbeck uses these common and generalized in order to have the readers relate more to his characters. This allows the reader to experience the story and feelings of the characters much better and lets the reader to connect to the character’s feelings, or force the reader to form opinions that aligns with those of the main protagonist(s). In “Of Mice of Men”, readers are initially introduced to Curley’s Wife with words such as “tart”, and having “the eye”. Which, even if readers do not know what that means, it may be inferred through diction that she is overly flirty, or a “tramp”.
Things start off well, but take a turn quickly. George and Lennie are the main characters, but some of the other characters can be deeply examined too, through different literary lenses. Curley’s wife is one of these characters, whom could be identified by many literary lenses. However, we will focus on one lens, the Gender lens.
Because of their own assumptions, the men on the farm have a biased opinion of Curley’s wife before meeting her and result to the use of derogatory language and rumors. The diction by the men leads to original characterization of Curley’s wife as a mean seductress, with little value or brains;
Finally, Steinbeck dehumanizes Curley by the negative criticism that always pursues her and her loss of identity when accompanying someone or something. This is why she is always commonly known as “Curley’s Wife”, proving that she is an unimportant and insignificant character in this book. Plus, everybody in the book says that Curley’s wife causes trouble for everyone; as George says, “She’s a jail bait all set on the trigger,” (Steinbeck, 49) and is constantly getting blame for all that goes wrong in Soledad; as Candy says, You God damn tramp. You done it, di’n’t you? I s’pose you’re glad.
Scott Hamilton once stated, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Disability is only an obstacle in a person's life, but it does not set the identity of that person. John Steinbeck's novel shows how disabled people are treated differently by writing about their heartbreak and sorrow. Many individuals with disabilities feel that a disability is a wall blocking them from achieving their goals. In our society, people are told what to be and what to do with their disability, but one should have the choice to carve their pathway to success.
Curley’s wife is portrayed to be a “tart”, someone who is always flirting with other people. When she is first introduced, Steinbeck writes “ The rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off”, which gives the impression that Curley’s wife is ominous and perilous for Lennie and George. The imagery implies that Curley’s wife is the darkness in their lives and that she is the obstacle in the journey of accomplishing the American Dream. During the climax of Steinbeck’s novella, he writes “ The light was growing soft now” represents the slow release of her soul and that darkness slowly filling the barn and their lives. It also indicates the gradual discharge of hope and belief from the minds of Lennie, George and Candy.
The reader is positioned to view her negatively as she uses her beauty as power to seduce the workers on the farm and make her husband jealous. The men often complain about her throughout the novel, calling her names that no woman would ever appreciate. Candy tells George and Lennie his honest opinion of Curley’s wife, “You know what I think?” George did not answer. “Well, I think Curley’s married…a tart.”
Jean, I agree with your response and I aslo think Curley 's wife is very flirtatious around other men because her husband doesn 't give her attention. Curley 's wife can behave carelessly because there 's no other female around, she feels lonely and has no one to talk to. A good example of this situation can be on page 78 when Curley 's wife was talking about her violent husband. Caroline, I agree with your response.
Misconception Curley’s wife, who was never to be named, was a complex and important main character in John Steinbeck's novelette “Of Mice & Men.”. She had a complicated past from aspiring to be a young actress but never getting the support needed from her family. She was practically forced into marriage with Curley; she never actually loved him. From the first time she was brought up in the novelette, she was portrayed as a flirtatious, ignorant tramp. This portrayal, however, is based on the viewpoints of Steinbeck’s male characters.
The couple fails to admit to each other that they are not in love for fear of losing their power and status as individuals. Curley’s marriage is revealed to be a sham through his wife’s conversation with Lennie, “Well, I ain’t told this to nobody before. Maybe I oughtn 't to. I don’ like Curley.” (pg. 89 Steinbeck)