How Is Curley’s Wife Presented - Victim or Villain?
Curley’s wife is the only women at the ranch in Of Mice and Men. She is generally portrayed as a young, lonely, bored and childish girl. “Baloney!” is her ‘word.’ This single word shows that she thinks she is a movie star. No one really talks like this. All the way through the book, it is evident this is how she sees her life; unreal, like a movie and dramatic. Curley’s wife is talked about before she is seen in the book. The first actual mention of her is ‘wife.’ Already it has been established that she has no name, she is just Curley’s wife. The men see her as a women, not as a real person. The swamper gives his opinion straight away on her. He immediately agrees that she is ‘purty’ but has ‘got the eye.’ This shows that the men see her as just a pretty girl, who means nothing. The fact that they mention she has the eye gives the impression that the men have been watching her, and are curious about her, as they have noticed this. This also shows that the men see her as provocative, and the swamper gets this impression over to George straight away, so all the book he treats her in a biased way, because of what was said then. He then describes her as ‘...a tart.’ This is very discriminatory and shows what most of the men think about her. They do not understand her, so she must be a tart! The swamper also invited George to ‘look her over.’ They are treating her like a possession, not a human being. Curley’s wife’s first appearance happens soon after George and Lennie hear about her. She stands in the doorway ‘looking in.’ This puts her immediately in place as the outsider, always looking in, never part of the action. She is described as ‘heavily made up’ and this tells you a lot about her. There is no reason to be heavily made up on a ranch, so she must have to much time on her hands. The fact she is wearing so much makeup tells us that Curley’s wife is bored. Also her hair is in ‘little rolled clusters,’ something which takes an extreme amount of time, pointing further to the fact that she is bored. Her ‘cotton house dress’ and ‘red mules’ are completely inappropriate dress for a ranch, and are actually quite expensive, film star clothes, giving us the impression that she thinks a lot about herself. When she speaks, it is evident she is socially awkward, as she doesn’t introduce herself or even say hello, just states that she is ‘lookin’ for Curley.’ Her voice is ‘nasal, brittle,’ which is not sexy, even though this is how she portrays herself through her makeup and clothes. When George answers her, she doesn’t leave, but asks “Your the new fellas... aint you?” This shows that she wasn’t actually looking for Curley, she is just trying to start up a convocation and doesn’t really know how to do it, further pointing at the fact she is socially awkward. Also she moves so her body is ‘thrown forward,’ trying to show off her best assets to the new guys, so she thinks a lot about herself and is a massive flirt! However, this idea as changes when she ‘bridles’ under Lennie’s eyes. This shows that she doesn’t actually like being looked at, and is uncomfortable with men looking at her. Therefore, surely this points to the fact that she isn’t a tart! When she offers to go somewhere else, she says it ‘playfully’ as if she is wishing the men will ask her to stay, as she wants the company and again is flirting. Throughout this, George has hinted that he wants her to go away four times, but she is either ignorant and has not got the message or is just plain lonely and doesn’t care if they want his company or not. Her next sentence, ‘Nobody can’t blame a person for lookin’ is very staged. Again, this wording is only used in the movies and her line sounds fake and practised. It is almost like she is play acting, and unreal. When Slim arrives, and tells her straight that she can’t be looking very hard she turns ‘apprehensive’ and ‘hurries away.’ This shows that she is actually quite...
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