Of Mice and Men notes
How does Steinbeck explore different attitudes to women in the novel?
1: How are women portrayed in of mice and men?
In this essay I will be analysing how Steinbeck presents women throughout his novella, of mice and men, I will also be analysing the effect on the reader and linking the image of women in his novella to how women were portrayed in 1930s America.
We see in Steinbeck’s novella we are first in introduced to Curley’s wife right from the start Steinbeck wishes to make it clear that she poses a threat to other ranch workers.” She got the eye.” We see in this quote that Candy is gossiping about Curley’s wife. “The eye” we are able to presume from this quote that she is flirtatious. This will pose a danger in the ranch as we know Curleys background knowledge of boxing and despise for “big guys” therefore we are able to presume that Steinbeck wants to introduce women as a danger to society in this respect. This was also the situation in 1930s America as women were able to make false statements to the judicial system and whether it was correct or not did not matter as they would take the word of the women. However there is also a different perspective as in 1930s America women had no, if not very little rights therefore this could of created hatred in the mind of females and thus causing them to risk the reputation of men. Bearing this in mind the reader immediately knows this will be a major threat to the sluggish Lennie which ultimately leads to his downfall. We also see throughout, of mice and men, that Curleys wife name is never revealed to the workers or indeed the reader. “Tart…Curley’s wife.” We see throughout the novella that she is only seen as a possession of Curleys and referred to from most of the ranch workers as a “tart”. I believe this is used by Steinbeck to show the lack of rights that women possessed during the 1930s. This is also used to show that women were the soul possession of men and that they were idolised as a trophy. Thus this makes the reader show empathy for her as she had no right and had no choice but to marry as women were not as socially accepted in 1930s as they are now, therefore in this context she is also seen as an outcast and living in a secluded ranch and trying to follow the principles of the then secular society therefore it is only natural for her to try and make friends with the only people available but she still poses a threat due to her actions and marital status.
We also see that women are also used in the novella as an object of pleasure. As in the book the workers in the ranch often go to the “whore house”. This cements the fact that women in the 1930s were seen as items and had no rights due to the fact they were seen as a less intellectual counterpart. Steinbeck wants to show this throughout his novel he also emphasises the effect of women by linking them into all that was considered atrocious acts such as lust and alcohol. This only magnifies the negative and sinful image that Steinbeck wants to create. This creates an image of a single minded, male society. Therefore Steinbeck does this so the reader get a feel of the lack of right women had and how they were perceived in the secular society of the 1930s.
In conclusion we see that women are portrayed in a very negative light in of mice and men. However this creates a strong image within the reader’s mind of the society at the time that secluded women from all aspects of life. However as we are able to see this is how it was in the 1930s Steinbeck passes on the role and indeed misuse of women during the 1930s. The use of women in of mice and men ultimately did lead to the downfall of Lennie however we are able to see why women were lead to do such atrocious deeds.
2: Steinbeck explores in many ways attitudes towards women in the novella "Of Mice and Men". He depicts many ideas relating to the historical time the story was written... The attitudes towards women
- Women were...
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