Curley’s Wife of Mice and Men Essay
In ‘Of Mice and Men’ Steinbeck uses dialogue, action and description to introduce and describe the characters. Curley’s wife is first introduced, through description, as a girl not a woman: “A girl was standing there looking in. ” (page 53). This implys that Curley’s wife is looked down upon because she is female and young. Also, this shows the age difference between her and the men who work on the ranch because they are described as guys or men while Curley’s wife is described as a girl or young woman.
Curley’s wife is also illustrated, through description, as insecure: “heavily made up” (page 53) as if she is hiding behind her make up and using it as a mask. The glamorous and expensive clothes that she wears is another way of trying to make herself look captivating and to make herself seem more wealthy: “She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers. “(page 53), contrasting with one of the themes in the novel: poverty and the financial crisis during the 1930’s in America.
The use of the colour red links back to the girl in Weed that Lennie supposedly molested, this is a use of foreshadowing the event that will occur between Lennie and Curley’s Wife. Steinbeck portrays Curley’s wife as lonely, through dialogue: “Think I don’t like to talk to somebody ever’ once in a while? “(page 110), “I get lonely”(page 122), “I get awful lonely” (page 122). The repetition throughout chapter 5 of Curley’s wife’s loneliness emphasises her isolation and frustration at her not being able to speak to “nobody but Curley” (page 123).
This links to the sub-theme of feminism in the novel. Curley’s wife is not allowed to talk to anyone but Curley and in the opinion of Carlson, one of the ranch workers, she belongs in the house: “Why’n’t you tell her to stay the hell home where she belongs? ” (page 90). Curley’s wife has many different relationships with people in the novel. Steinbeck conveys the impression that her and her husband’s relationship is of an abusive one: “He ain’t a nice fella. (page 125), this is done through Curley’s wife and Lennie’s conversation in the stable. She confides this in Lennie, who is a total stranger and is in no position, because of his mental disability to provide any advice to her. This shows Curley’s wife’s desperation to talk to someone. Curley believes that his wife is a possession, hense the reason why her name is never mentioned in the novel and that she is just referred to as ‘Curley’s wife’. This links back to the sub-theme of feminism.
In conclusion, the ways that Steinbeck presents and develops Curley’s wife in ‘of mice and men’ changes quickly. At first she is illustrated as a “tart” (page 50), however as the novel develops she is portrayed as more of a naive, lonely, victimised young woman who just wants someone to talk to. Her character does not develop, it is the reader’s understanding of her that develops and by the end of the novel we feel remorse towards her rather than hatred.