Posted: June 21st, 2021
mice When John Steinbeck wrote of mice and men, he showed there was a lot of inequality during the 1930’s. This essay shall attempt to portray the inequality of women in Steinbeck’s novel. George the main character of the story, first sets his eyes on Curley’s wife, his initial impression of her is that he has “never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her” (Steinbeck 2006 p36). In the novel Curley’s wife is a beautiful woman who constantly shows her beauty to the men on the ranch. She dresses inappropriately for a woman married to the boss’s son. She had full, roughed lips and wide spaced eyes, her fingernails are red and her hair hangs in little rolled clusters, like sausages”. (p34 Steinbeck 2006). Curley’s wife always wanders around the ranch in search for someone to talk to. However, the ranch workers stay wary of her as they believe she will only give them trouble. Curley’s wife is isolated, self absorbed and a dreamer. Curley doesn’t seem to have any respect for his wife at all, Candy tells George (Steinbeck p30) why Curley wears only one glove on his hand which is soaked in Vaseline so it is kept soft for his wife and George finds this disgusting.
This is degrading to her as she is just there for his pleasure. She is just a wife who is a trophy to show off hence the saying ‘trophy wife’. Dreams are heavily involved in this book. Like many characters in the book, Curley’s wife also has a dream. She dreams of being a film star. She appears to be trying to get the men into trouble but her dreams and frustrations show that she is lonely like the other people on the ranch. She hated her upbringing, so when a guy told her she had the potential to be a movie star and he would be in touch, finally she found a way out.
However, being a young naive girl like she was, she fell for his story and she never heard or even saw the guy again. Instead of Hollywood and all its glam, she ended up marrying young and getting trapped on the ranch. Being the only woman there and no one to talk to makes you emphasise with her and soften towards her and feel her loneliness. Curley is not interested in her dream and there is only one person she tells her dream to and that is Lennie. I think she tells ennie because she knows he doesn’t comprehend what’s going on and it goes through one ear and out the other but at least she’s telling somebody her dream even if they don’t quite understand but ironically the one person she tells is the same person who takes it away for good. John Steinbeck makes very good use of dreams throughout the novel. Each character is shown to have greater depth than we might have expected and we are able to see how lonely and disappointed their lives are through the quite humble ambitions that they have.
The men seem to want security in their lives whereas Curley’s wife wants to escape from the boredom and lonesomeness that surrounds her and get rid of the title ‘Curley’s wife’. Although Curley’s wife may be considered static, she does not change throughout the novel Curley’s wife is essential to the plot. Therefore, she is not simply “unnamed” because she is unimportant. Curley’s wife is unnamed for several reasons. She is first and for most not worthy of a name. A name implies that a relationship can exist.
Curley’s wife is not capable of a relationship; she is not worthy. With a name also comes identification and familiarity. If we were to feel any sort of empathy for Curley’s wife, we may not understand or appreciate Lennie’s role in her death. We may actually care that she is dead. There is also the historical role of women in society. As a writer of social issues, Steinbeck wants the reader to recognize the inferior role of women in the world. The lack of name demotes Curley’s wife to insignificant status.
She is not as important as the men in the story. Curley’s wife is very flirtatious. In fact she is so flirtatious that the farmers refer to her as ‘having the eye’. The men see her in the ranch as the cause of many problems like her husband’s short heated attitude and the fear that they will be sacked. But as the story is about to reach its climax, she begins to add more complexity to her own character by letting Lennie in on her dreams, what she is all about. Here she reveals that she doesn’t have the eye at all but she is just lonely.
She says that she dislikes Curley because he is always annoyed and so she comes around the farm to get away and find someone that she can talk to. In this conversation with Lennie she tells him the dream that she had for herself. She dreamed of becoming a famous actress and she would have wanted to live in Hollywood. But just like many of the other characters her dream went unrealised. So instead of being an actress living a glamorous life in Hollywood, she is stuck living in a ranch with a husband that she really doesn’t like, living in a ranch full of loneliness not havin
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