Of Mice and Men: Is Curley's Wife a Victim or Villian?

Topics: John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, Novella Pages: 6 (2536 words) Published: October 16, 2012
John Steinbeck presents Curley’s wife at the start of the story as an irrelevant character because she has no relation with George and Lennie. At the start, Curley is one of the most important characters (besides George and Lennie) because he has the power to crush George and Lennie’s dream of having a farm of your own. But as the story goes on, to end, we see the importance of her character and that everything that has happened on the ranch is caused by her presence; even though she is not in the story as much as others, she has a long lasting effect on the other characters. She is mentioned in the story a lot because of how she would acted around the men working in the ranch. In the end, we knew Lennie and George were not going to get a farm of their own because of how Lennie is drown to trouble all the time but we ultimately find out that it’s Curly’s wife that crushes George and Lennie’s dreams when Lennie kills her. Again her presence caused a lot of trouble in the ranch which furthermore kills Lennie and their dream. She is a defined as a villain by how she is pruned to flirt and seeks attention from anyone she comes across. She is racist and mean to some of the workers e.g. Crooks and Candy, because she knows even though she is not liked; she has the power to make their lives a living hell. She is also considered a victim because before she dies, she talks to Lennie about how she had all these dreams about becoming an actress and being famous; and as the reader we see her true self and we see that deep down she is a kind and lovely person. We then know that she is only flirtatious and mean to the men because she is just trying to have bond with someone because Curly has commanded her not to talk to anyone; this made her lonely and bitter. Her racist remarks to Crooks wasn’t only because of her bitter behaviour, but because in her times black people were not treated well anyway. Steinbeck presents Curly’s wife as a trouble maker and a pest but he also made her a very complex character and in the end we find out she is one of the most important character in the whole story because it only takes her presence to excite the audience.

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Curly’s wife is needed in the novel to create suspense and drama with the men, which ultimately makes the story a lot more interesting. Because she is extremely flirtatious with almost everyone in the ranch, her husband, Curly gets jealous and angry; this would probably cause the workers to fear him more because in that state of anger, he could fire them which could render them homeless and foodless causing them to suffer on the streets or even die. Curly’s wife is a very interesting and complex character to understand because we automatically think that she is just flirtatious and a bad wife to Curly but as the story goes on we understand that it’s not all her fault that she is like that and I think that Steinbeck is trying to put across is that women were not treated well; an example of this is the most obvious and unnoticed sign is her name, though out the whole novel we know and call her ‘Curley’s wife’ because no one respects her enough to call her by her true name. Also the only other women mentioned in the novel are the stripper, who we also don’t know the names of and Aunt Clara who raised lennie up before she died, this shows that women were viewed with no respect when this book was written and that men were represented dominate among the two genders. Curly’s wife develops the plot by just being there, we find out that she is still a bit new at the ranch and already she has got all the men talking and thinking about her in a horrible way, but I think that most of them also think of her in a sexual way because she is beautiful and the only women they would see in the day (besides the strippers on the Friday trip to the bar) so it would have been expected of them to think that; but they would not mention it because they don’t wasn’t the other...
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