Of Mice and Men and Macbeth Conflict

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Texts that deal with the theme of conflict make us think. Conflict is the centre of all dramatic development in the three texts I will be discussing. These are Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, and O Brother Where Art Thou’, directed by Joel Coen. There are many forms of conflict expressed in these texts. These include both emotional and physical conflict. Conflict has been brought about in many ways throughout these texts. Most of which has been fuelled by inner discord. However a person’s inner conflict can often lead to violent activity. This demonstrates that both forms of conflict are indeed affiliated. OMAM tells the story of a sharp witted man and his simple friend who find work in California’s Salinas Valley. They are driven by a shared dream, that one day they will own their own property and “live off the fatta the lan”. George serves as Lennie’s protector, as Lennie is mentally retarded. “He’s awright, just aint bright” Lennie’s fetish for soft things and his ignorant behaviour, often lands them both in trouble. Many of the characters in OMAM admit to suffering from profound loneliness and lost dreams. This is perhaps most effectively delivered through George. At the end of the novel Lennie accidentally kills the wife of the boss' son while trying to comfort her. Although Lennie is afraid George will be angry and flees. The ranch hands rightly guess the culprit and they set out to find and kill him. As George realizes what Lennie has done, the painful mission that he must undertake becomes clear to him, a mission that will cause him great grief and inner conflict. George knows that the murder of this girl could not be left unaddressed. Even if turning Lennie over to the police was a realistic option, being separated from George would have destabilized Lennie to a point that could have resulted in even greater tragedy. This internal conflict ripped George up inside, debating the right thing to do. It was more humane to end his life quickly, and George knew that if he truly loved Lennie, he would see to it that his death would be quick and merciful, in contrast to the fate that he would receive at the hands of the ranch hands. The end of the novel (also Lennie death) is set in the same place which it began. The repetition of the setting binds the story together. Lennie associates this place with safety. “Hide in the bush till i come for you.” The major irony of the novel is that George kills Lennie because he loves him. The irony is furthered as the pistol George steals to kill Lennie was earlier used to kill an old dog, in order to save it from suffering and misery. When the dog is killed, the ranch hands show compassion for the owner’s loss, but when George experiences a similar plight, and perhaps a worse one, the ranch hands are unable to comprehend his loss and feel no sympathy. However a greatly respected ranch hand named Slim is the only one who notices the irony of the shooting and comforts George by telling him “you hadda... I swear you hadda”. The old dog and Lennie are also symbols that represent the fate of anyone that has outlived his or her purpose. Even though it causes him much inner turmoil, George kills Lennie to save him from a society that misunderstands him. Georges dream is an important symbol in the book, as it represents the possibility of freedom and protection from the cruelties and expectations of the world. After Lennie's death, George is lost and lonely, heartbroken at the loss of his friend. By killing Lennie, George not only sacrifices his only form of companionship but also his state of mind. George also knows that the death of Lennie marks the end of a beautiful dream he had been nurturing and is forced to accept that such untarnished happiness is not to be found in this world. George’s inner conflict is rivalled only by Lennie’s. Due to his mental condition Lennie develops a complete dependence of George. Lennie experiences frequent...
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