Women in Society

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How does Steinbeck present attitudes to women in the society in which the novel is set?
In the novel Of Mice and Men we are made aware of the role of women and viewpoints towards women in 1930’s American society. Not only attitudes to women in general, but Steinbeck also makes the reader aware of the different types of women and their ‘roles’ and expectations during this period of American history. Women were almost classified and Steinbeck presents women as prostitutes, nurturers or married women similar to Curley’s wife. I will be exploring how Steinbeck uses the novel to present the themes of gender inequality and how it was widely considered by society that women were inferior to men.
Curley’s wife plays a pivotal role in Of Mice and Men and her character proves to be an aid for Steinbeck in presenting women in 1930’s America. From an instant we realise that Curley’s wife has no name. We are led to believe that this is due to her being seen as a possession rather than a person, she is unimportant- lacking her own identity. Furthermore, Steinbeck suggests that women are merely labelled and not respected as individuals and instead grouped in society.
Not only labelling of women but Curley’s wife also represents how little women are respected in society. Curley and his “glove fulla’ Vaseline” leads us to make the connection between Curley’s wife and Lennie’s actions. It could be suggested that all of the mice, rabbits and pups that Lennie “likes to pet” are in fact in some way related to Curley’s wife. Steinbeck prompts the audience to notice that the “glove fulla’ Vaseline” is used to pet Curley’s wife, similar to the way Lennie pets his mice. We are led to believe that Curley’s wife represents an animal, once again reinforcing the lack of respect for women in American society during the period. In relation to petting animals we are further made aware of attitudes to women. When George says to Lennie “get another mouse that’s fresh and I’ll let you keep it a

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