Of Mice and Men Character Analysis Essay Sample
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- Category: steinbeck
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Of Mice and Men Character Analysis Essay Sample
Curley is the boss’s son, so he doesn’t need to work like the ordinary ranch hands, and he has time to kill. He’s little – so he hates big guys. He is a prize-fighter and looks for opportunities for a fight. “He glanced coldly at George and then at Lennie. His arms gradually bent at the elbows and his hands closed into fists. He stiffened and went into a slight crouch. His glance was at once calculating and pugnacious.” He is newly-married and is very possessive of his wife – but he still visits brothels. There is a rumour that he wears a glove filled with Vaseline to keep his hand soft for his wife. Wife is a possession- authority and patronising Unrespected unlike Slim as a boss (natural authority) Revenge on Lennie at end
‘I don’t like Curley’ – CW
‘cause his old man’s the boss’
His relationship with this dog and how they reflect the old and ‘handicapped’ people during 1930s America. When Candy speaks to George about wishing he was the one to kill his dog, that foreshadows the ending of the novela, when George takes it upon himself to end Lennie’s life. The killing of Candy’s dog also adheres to he cyclical nature of solitude during that period that Steinbeck uses throughout the novel. Candy is really the only character with a real voice. He voices his opinions and is the man source of Gossip on the Ranch. Overall Candy is portrayed as a character that has outlived his use or ‘usefulness’ and is clinging onto the hope of living the American Dream. ‘disposed of’- represents age discrimination- ‘tall, stoop’ shows how age is highlighted from start Relationship with dog is parallel of George and Lennie Dream with G + L Described through dog ‘a drag-footed sheep dog, grey of muzzle and with pale, blind old eyes’
In Edwardian Britain, a period steeped in superficiality and hypocrisy, social status was measured by material wealth. A sense of moral responsibility was lost to the façade of materialism and etiquette. In the Birling family, J.B. Priestley has created a group of people so fixated upon climbing the rigid ladder of social hierarchy, that they are willing to shelve their conscience and morality, feeling no ties of empathy with those less fortunate then themselves. Throughout the play J.B. Priestley emphatically demonstrates to us that we are members ‘of one body’ and uses every character to convey his vital message, that we each hold a responsibility to show empathy and care for each other.
Need to impress
Cares for himself and family
provincial in his speech.”
I’ve got to cover this up as soon as I can.” (selfish)
it’s exactly the same port your father gets.” He is proud that he is likely to be knighted, as that would move him even higher in social circles. ‘public scandal’ ‘what’s the matter with that child?’ (patronising) GERALD
Is he a bit like Mr Birling, wanting to protect his own interests? ‘I believe you’re right, sir’- Looks up to Mr Birling ‘this make all the difference’ At the beginning of the play Gerald appears to be very polite and well mannered.”Absolutely first-class” He seems to be enthusiastic and wants to fit in with the family. “I insist upon being one of the family now.” Gerald is from an upper class family and he is the Birlings social superior. Mr Birling makes this clear when he says. “Lady Croft – while she doesn’t object to my girl – feels you might have done better for yourself socially.”
This creates unease between them but it also suggests that Mr Birling is very comfortable talking to Gerald. He describes Gerald as “just the kind of son-in-law I always wanted.” He also opens up to Gerald about is knighthood “Just a knighthood, of course.” but doesn’t tell his own son about this. In the first act Gerald shows that he has simular views to Mr Birling. He replies “You could’nt have done anything else.” after Birling reveals that he fired Eva Smith. In his confession Gerald is shown as immoral for having an affair with Daisy Renton whilst seeing Sheila, however he does appear to be upset by what has happened and what he did. “(distressed) Sorry – I – well, I’ve suddenly relised – taken it in properly – that’s she’s dead-“
“But these girls aren’t cheap labour – they’re people.” Compassion- young She feels full of guilt for her jealous actions and blames herself as”really responsible.” She is very perceptive: “he’s giving us the rope – so that we’ll hang ourselves” (Act II) and, near the end, is the first to consider whether the Inspector may not be real. She is curious. She genuinely wants to know about Gerald’s part in the story. It’s interesting that she is not angry with him when she hears about the affair: she says that she respects his honesty. She is becoming more mature. She is angry with her parents in Act 3 for trying to “pretend that nothing much has happened.”
Sheila says “It frightens me the way you talk:” she cannot understand how they cannot have learnt from the evening in the same way that she has. She is seeing her parents in a new, unfavourable light. At the end of the play, Sheila is much wiser. She can now judge her parents and Gerald from a new perspective, but the greatest change has been in herself: her social conscience has been awakened and she is aware of her responsibilities. The Sheila who had a girl dismissed from her job for a trivial reason has vanished forever. She represents (with Eric) the younger generation – Priestley saw them as ‘more impressionable’ – after all, they were the future. She gives the audience hope that their society can improve if people make changes and take responsibility.
Curley; 1) Curley is pugnacious. This means he is quick to fight. He believes he is the leader of the ranch because he is the boss’s son. However, he isn’t because the guys on the ranch do not respect him well enough because of his attitude. Something else which backs up the fact that he is pugnacious is that he was an ex-boxer, and he was described as “handy”. This allows Curley to be presented as vicious and mean towards the audience.
Curley believes he doesn’t have to do any work on the ranch, and that in fact he is above everyone else therefore they should do his dirty work. Curley was described as wearing “high-heeled boots just like the boss.” This shows that he isn’t going to do any hard work and that he is uses the card of him being the boss’s son as an easy way out of not working. Him wearing heels on his boots shows this because you wouldn’t see a guy wearing high-heeled boots doing hard-work, because it isn’t practicable to be wearing those sort of shoes.
Curley is the one man on the ranch to have a lover. This means that he could be very conscious and worried that the other guys on the ranch will try to steal his wife. This could make him come across as vicious and non-trusting towards the other men, but also towards the audience. This presents Curley in a pessimistic way because he is demonstrating negative qualities about himself
You should conclude by saying that Steinbeck had intentions of Curley to be he anti-protagonist of the novella, in order to create tension within the book, but also to show the reality of men in 1930s America. 2) In the first description of Curley we see that he has to prove his authority, hinting at his inferiority complex, as he wears “high-heeled boots” to distinguish himself from the workers. This hints that he hasn’t earned his status; he has got there through nepotism. This is in contrast to the description of Slim, who has “natural authority” and it shows the illogical nature of the situation, that Curley has more power. Steinbeck uses this situation to criticise the lack of social mobility at that time, the opposite of the American Dream. Since Curley doesn’t have natural authority, he tries to prove himself through violence. As well as being outwardly ‘pugnacious’, his violent nature even pervades his appearance, as he has “tightly curled hair”.
Through comparing Curley to a spring, Steinbeck emphasizes his irrational and illogical confrontational nature, since he has not been provoked. This negative imagery creates reader dislike at this endemic, unnecessary anger pervading ranch life and the brutal nature of the times. In the plot of the novella, his ‘pugnacious’ characteristics appear to be the first, almost prophetic, signs of trouble for George and Lennie. Curley is used by Steinbeck to symbolise the pessimistic outlook, at the time of the Great Depression. When Curley enters the Bunk House, he immediately ruins the atmosphere when he ‘glanced coldly’. This unnecessary manner and the negative connotations of the adverb ‘coldly’, shows that the other characters don’t welcome his behaviour. The behaviour of Curley doesn’t seem to an isolated case either since Candy said, “I’ve seen many of ‘em”. The use of the pronoun “em” dehumanises Curley and his attitude. Steinbeck does this to show that the negativity of people like Curley is corrupting the American Dream.
The dangerous impact of his behaviour is seen most clearly through his wife. Through her sex and her marriage to Curley, she has become isolated from everyone. The fact that she “don’t like Curley” isolates her further, so she has to find friendship from the other men. This instinctive quest for affection leads both her and Lennie into trouble when she tries to gain the physical contact that she never got from Curley. In the quote “see how soft it is” we see how in her desperation, she misjudges Lennie. In the prophetic nature of this quote, referring to how Lennie behaves around soft things, we see how dangerous Curley’s behaviour is.
The dangerous effects of his violent personality are shown in his treatment of Lennie at the end. When he hears of the death of his wife, he immediately blames Lennie, “I know who done it”. Since violence pervades his mind and their society, there is no trial, or justice for Lennie. Steinbeck shows his critical nature of this situation through use of hyperbolic language, “I’ll kill the big son-of-a-bitch myself” and this simultaneous reaction creates a farcical situation. The rashness of his actions creates a sense of pathos for Lennie and the unfairness of his broken dreams. It may be suggested that the rashness of society at the time is preventing people from achieving the Jeffersonian Agrarian Myth. Candy Candy essay How is loneliness and isolation explored in the novel?
Loneliness is the feeling of isolation and no hope or dreams in your life-which is what Steinbeck achieves by portraying this theme effectively through key fictional characters in Of Mice and Men. By living in the town of ‘Soledad’ (Spanish for loneliness), the audience gets an overwhelming sense of the depressing environment that the migrant farmers are living through by their repetitive lifestyle and the consequences they face through the Great Depression and the Dustbowl. Yet another aspect of loneliness which is exposed vulnerably through several characters is the idea of the American Dream, for Steinbeck teaches us that even through hard work and prosperity, it is unattainable which is represented by Curley’s wife, Crooks, Candy and George + Lennie. These personas are left in isolation for as George says that ‘Guys like us that work on ranches are the loneliest guys in the world. They don’t belong no place…’ which is to say that these characters have lost all hope in their lives, which Steinbeck conveys effectively, and the fact that despite this, they still believe there is hope to come for them, which leaves me to sympathise for them more.
Candy is a prime representation of isolation and loneliness in ‘Of Mice and Men’. Firstly, it seems his disability has brought him down by the ranchmen because he has ‘no (right) hand’ which says to me that he isn’t practical in the ranch, yet it also suggests that Steinbeck may have used religious imagery to interpret the isolation Candy feels because the right hand is a symbol of hope and love in Christianity, and by not having one Candy has lost meaning in life, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it’s surprising this because it’s ironic that he’s the oldest on the ranch by being a ‘tall, stoop-shouldered old man’ but having the most experience on the ranch. Yet it seems that the depression has hit on the shoulders for his look on life has been brought down.
As well as this, his American Dream of living on George and Lennie’s dream ranch is affected mainly by Curley’s wife’s death as he ‘lay down in the hay and covered his eyes with his arm’ after the men left, knowing it seems that age and disability has made him vulnerable against the harsh reality of isolation in 1930’s America. Yet nevertheless, I still believe that there is hope for him because just several years after Of Mice and Men was published, President Roosevelt signed an agreement for peace and equality in America. He had polio. He was disabled. So despite Candy being in a position of loneliness against the world, there is still hope for him in the world I believe, not like some other characters.
Crooks was also considered disabled by being a ‘negro buck’ as black people were treated terribly as slaves and not in society. This is shown by Steinbeck’s language of setting as Crooks lives in a ‘little shed that leaned off the wall of the barn’ as if to say that he is not strong or bold enough to survive in the world. He also has ‘a mauled copy of the California civil code for 1905’ which conveys to me that despite Crooks being motivated and strong to achieving a prosperous life, his life will never be the same. The past has gone behind him and nothing can protect him from his isolation and loneliness. Although Steinbeck shows that loneliness has made Crooks bitter by putting Candy and Lennie in the same position as he is making Lennie think if ’s’pose you don’t have nobody’ As well as this, his race makes him more vulnerable and exposed to others easily, especially by Curley’s wife threatening him to be ‘strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny’ which conveys to me that Crooks is used for other people’s pleasure and has no freedom or boundaries. However, he was born black. So he was born lonely which leads me to empathise for him more, despite Steinbeck still communicating the realistic idea of isolation on the ranch.
Furthermore, despite Curley’s wife being dominant towards Crooks, she was also born lonely- for women were considered as disability in 1930’s America, which is harsh but Steinbeck shows this very effectively. Curley’s wife appearance may make her as an extremely attractive person, having ‘full rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes’ which to me reminds me of an image of Marilyn Monroe if we look at this from a modern generation, a controversial celebrity- which is Curley’s wife’s American dream-which makes her all the more vulnerable to her loneliness. What makes her more exposed is the constant red imagery used in her appearance as well which not only represents a desire for romance in her life (which is failed by Curley for her loneliness has made her disappointingly upset) but also a sign of warning and danger in her life- an echo of the girl ’in a red dress’ by Lennie who as a woman was treated as a disability and also uses red imagery.
Because of this, Curley’s wife exposes herself too much and may face the consequences of this from Lennie because of her vulnerability. Not only this, but Curley’s wife is vulnerable because she has no name which in a sense, to me, suggests that she has no strong identity on the ranch and is treated as a social accessory, like Candy’s dog-also with her name. So similarly to Crooks, her loneliness has made her bitter and more masculine which is shown towards the end of Section Four and is now treated as ‘ma’am’ by Crooks, which raises her hierarchy. Yet nevertheless, I feel that she is still lonely because she was never meant to be masculine so she is still in isolation with herself.
Contrasting with all these characters, George + Lennie are a strong companionship coming into the ranch with high expectations. However, their initial descriptions convey their hierarchy already as Steinbeck says that ‘the first man was small and quick’ with ‘sharp, strong features’- which means to me that he is the dominant and masculine character in this relationship and can stand up against the world. Juxtaposing with this, Lennie is described as ‘a huge man, shapeless of face’ which may describehis feature- unbalanced and quite unsure of himself and the rest of the world compared to George. Because of this, as they enter the ranch they are split into two clashing environments as George ‘went into town’ with the ranchmen and Lennie headed into ‘a little shed’ which shows that George has company and will never be afraid of the world, whilst Lennie is alone and exposed in his vulnerability.
Because of his disability, unfortunately he may never escape it. Relating to Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ Lennie is sentenced to death by his loneliness and contrasting characteristics with George which is very similar to Candy’s dog as a mercy killing which seems controversial, but because of the loneliness and depression the companions have been through, Steinbeck shows that it may seem unfair for Lennie to stay alive and go through the same cycle again with a new ranch-similar to Weed in my opinion, leaving George to go through the cycle of loneliness as he threw the gun ‘near the pile of old ashes’ with the rest of the old and bad memories as he must leave them behind in order to survive alone.
Overall, George + Lennie, Curley’s Wife, Crooks and Candy are affected by the harsh reality of loneliness which Steinbeck presents emotionally through setting and their own ‘disabilities’ in 1930’s America- whether it’s racism, sexism or not able to perform practical skills. Even with their American Dream, Steinbeck shows this only makes them the more vulnerable against the wide world ahead of them within a lonely town known as ‘Soledad’. Despite myself being emotionally connected with these characters and wanting them to succeed I realise that there may be no hope for them and unfortunately they must live within the difficulty of isolation forever.
Birling is the head of the household and the director of a business. These two establishments unite to corruptly result in the death of Eva Smith – who symbolises the ‘thousands’ like her who live in poverty. Birling symbolises materialistic and self-serving Capitalism. Priestley uses Birling’s style of speech to undermine the audience’s respect for him, and to undercut subtly the outward confidence of his ‘easy manner’. He speaks often with interrupted diction, Priestley frequently gives him dashes and pauses and incomplete sentences. For example, he hesitates when referring to Gerald’s parents, ‘Sir George and – er – Lady Croft.’ This certainly suggests not only that he is socially out of his depth, but also a sense of intellectual uncertainty, as though Birling lacks the intelligence that more precise diction would imply.
His speech about the good economic climate of 1912 and how war will not happen is peppered with dashes and hesitations. The audience is well aware, through dramatic irony that global conflict in World War One would soon follow and that Birling is wrong which further undermines his credibility. Here, his broken diction suggests a lack of logic and reason. The overall effect is to suggest that Birling is intellectually weak, and blusters and brags; he is characterised as arrogant and inept. His stumbling manner of speaking is juxtaposed with the confident fluency of the Inspector, who seems all the more trustworthy in comparison.
A key device used by Priestly in the characterisation of Birling is bathos. When speaking of Shiela and Gerald’s engagement he says that this is ‘one of the happiest nights of [his] life’. Love and marriage would naturally bring joy. But within a few lines he goes on to say how it means that the Crofts and Birlings will, because of the marriage, be able to work together ‘for lower costs and higher prices’. The explicit focus on the mundane matter of money is at the speech’s climax, making it clear that this is the underlying reason for Birling’s excitement. The transition from love to money is bathetic and reveals that lurking beneath the fine dinner and ‘easy manners’ of Birling is greed and self-interest. Although first this is merely comic, it becomes morally significant as the play progresses.
The pattern of bathos is repeated throughout. When he discovers that Eric has stolen moeny, his initial fury seems appropriate – until he reveals that the reason for his anger is how difficult it will be to ‘cover this up’. He seems at first to agree with Sheila that Mrs Birling’s treatment of Eva is ‘cruel and vile’, but it turns out that he is concerned because he fears that ‘the press might take it up’. He is shaken and angry at the end of the play, but ultimately not for moral reasons, but for his fear for his ‘knighthood’. Priestley uses the comical element of the bathos to make Birling a somewhat ridiculous figure. However, symbolically he represents those at the top of the social hierarchy who have the power to influence the lives of ‘millions’.
If the Inspector is the protangonist of the play, Birling is the antagonist. Priestly makes him the antithesis of the Inspector. Birling has authority which is based on money and social prestige, whereas the Inspector has authority which derives from morality and justice. The rank of ‘Inspector’ falls beneath Mr Birling socially as former Mayor of Brumley. Class structures are integral to the drama.