I've been told to write an essay about the characters and how loneliness affects them in Of Mice And Men. I've only done 3 characters so far, and I am aiming to do another tomorrow- probably Candy or Lennie. Could you have a read and tell me if I'm doing the right sort of thing that could get me a Band 5, grade A/A*?
Of Mice and Men- Loneliness essay Watch
- 30-12-2014 14:26
- 30-12-2014 14:27
How does loneliness negatively affect characters emotions?
The Novella 'Of Mice and Men' is a tragic story, and was written in 1937 by John Steinbeck, focusing on the lives of two migrant workers in California, during the Great Depression, and how they, and many other characters of different ethnicity and backgrounds survive in a life of little. Through out the Novella, there is a consistent theme of loneliness that reflects on each character individually, and affects their lives, hopes and dreams.
From the very beginning of the Novella, we are presented with two characters- George and Lennie, and there is an obvious theme of loneliness as we see how George mothers Lennie. From this, we begin to realise that George stays with Lennie in order to protect and look after him rather than for any good of his own. For example, George says to Lennie "For Gods sake, don't drink so much" when Lennie goes to drink water. This implies that George is protecting Lennie from something that could harm him, and although it wouldn't impact on George's life if he were to get hurt, he says it to make sure Lennie isn't hurt, like a mother would do to her child. However, the fact that George says "For Gods Sake" suggests that he is incredibly impatient, and gets quite angry with Lennie, which instantly depicts him as the leader of the two, and the one with authority. This is the way that George expresses his worry for Lennie, and by doing it in a short tempered, angry way is the only way Lennie may realised how George is being serious.
Another way in which we are able to see how George stays with Lennie for his sake only is how he says "If I was alone I could live so easy" , regarding how Lennie makes his life incredibly difficult due to the responsibility required to take care of him, and how his entire life is dominated by him. As well as this, George isn't' able to enjoy any type of social life because of how demanding Lennie is, and the embarrassment that may come to him if seen with Lennie in any place, making him quite a lonely character.
During this section of the Novella, we see George become incredibly angry as he takes over "The elaborate manor of little girls" when immitating Lennie, and stares "Morosely" at Lennie. This could be foreshadowing events that happen later in the book in the same setting,especially that of when George's frustration with Lennie boils over, and he shoots him. In that scene, the anger that George holds in the beginning isn't present, however there is obviously a sence of animosity which leads him to shooting Lennie. Although, still here we are able to see how George is caring for Lennie, preferring to shoot him himself, while Lennie is in a 'Happy Place' thinking about his future, rather than being intimidated by Curley and the other Ranch Men, and dying in a bad way, yet some readers may ignore this and believe that George is simply shooting him because of his annoyance with him. Due to the novel being cyclic, the two events at the beginning and the end of the novella link, as they are in the same setting which links to the foreshadowing aspect.
The way George cares for Lennie is used to emphasise how astute his personality is, and how during the Great Depression, even the littlest company can comfort a man, and men did stick together to care for one another, despite differences
- 30-12-2014 14:28
Another character in the Novella whose story has strong links to loneliness is Crooks. He is segregated from the rest of the characters due to his skin colour, an issue that was ever present in 1930's America. It is revealed early on in the novella that he has to live apart from the rest of the workers, in a separate bunk house due to his skin colour. We first get to see Crook's bunk in chapter 4, when Lennie visits him , and from the state of his room it is obvious he is lonely. He is said to have kept "a mauled copy of the California civil code" on one of his shelves. This is probably to keep him occupied when he is feeling alone; he can read it to understand what little rights he has, and what he should have, in the hope that one day he will be treated equally like the other men on the ranch. The fact that is is 'Mauled' suggested that he has read it so often it has become damaged. It is also animal imagery, as animals commonly maul their food, which implies that he has searched through it very roughly many times.
As well as this, on Crook's shelf he keeps a 'Tattered Dictionary", which suggests that although he may not be well educated, he attempts to educate himself in the hopes that he will become smart enough to have a better job than what he has now, with more rights. It tells the reader that he is a strong willed man, who always strives to improve although he has not been treated fairly. It also tells the reader that he has alot of spare time for him to read both books, due to the fact that he is never invited anywhere after working hours with the other ranch workers, and has nothing else he is able to do to pass time.
Another point that emphasises Crooks's loneliness is how he treats Lennie when he is faced with a friendly persona, other than aggressive, insulting persona's he is usually faced with. Although during the scene, he does relentlessly invite Lennie into his bunk, he replies to his kind innocents with harsh taunts to intimidate and scare Lennie. He says to him "S'pose George went into town tonight and you never seen him no more", which obviously makes Lennie feel threatened and worried about his best friend. When Crooks see's this, his face 'Lightens with pleasure'. This implies that Crooks enjoys tormenting Lennie, suggesting he is a very low and unkind character. However, he could be taunting him because he sees how Lennie is so less able than himself- Lennie doesn't understand anything about segregation or working in Crooks's eyes, and only cares about the Pups, where as Crooks is much more intelligent, yet he is treated so differently, and seen as in a lower position than Lennie. He also may be jealous of the strong friendship Lennie has with George, and doesn't understand why he can't have a friendship like that too, thus torments Lennie out of jealousy.
- 30-12-2014 14:28
Another character who is obviously incredibly lonely is Curleys wife. Being the only female on the ranch it is difficult for her to socializer with anyone else due to them sexualising her. She attempts to speak to some of the men, however she is just pushed further away, as they don't want to upset her husband, Curley, although he doesn't treat her well anyway. Therefore, she is segregated due to her gender. Due to her being so isolated, she attempts to gain attention of the men on the ranch by dressing in a overly sexualise way, and flirting with them, however it is clear that most of the men don't care for this. We can see this by how she dresses- she wears "Little bouquets of red ostrich feathers". The colour red is a vivid colour that automatically draws your attention to it. This signifies that Curleys wife wants to be noticed, and decides to wear the most eye catching colour in the hopes it will stand out amongst the dull colours that the other workers wear. However, the colour red also represents danger and fear, which is a foreboding technique used by Steinbeck to entail her ending, and how it damages the rest of the characters and their endings. As well as this, the fact that she wears Ostrich Feathers implies that, like an ostrich, she will never have the ability to fly. In this instance, it suggests that she will never be able to truly break free of her life in the Bunk House, and is grounded with Curley for the rest of her life- unable to achieve any of her dreams. Although it was most likely not intentional for Curleys wife to wear Ostrich feathers for this reason, Steinbeck has added this to foreshadow her ending. Due to her being presented as this, we are given a negative opinion of her, due to how she wants attention, though she has a husband. However, as the novella is in dramatic style, as more events unfold we being to realise her character is more dimensional than the sexualised, rude woman we see her as at the beginning, and our emotions towards her change as we realise how lonely and isolated she really is.
An example of this is when she is consoling Lennie. She says to him " I get lonely. You can talk to people but I can't talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad". This directly tells us how Curleys Wife is really feeling, underneath the facade she holds of a strong, relentless woman. This suggests that she is so isolated, yet she feels sorry for herself because she is unable to do anything to reverse it- because she is a woman. It tells us that she wants to be treated regularly, and spoken too like anyone else on the ranch, but she isn't able to because Curley will get angry with her, and possibly hurt her. We know from other points in the novella that Curley is unafraid to lash out and become frustrated, taking his feeling out physically, so it is quite likely that he would do the same to Curleys Wife and the man she speaks too. For this reason, the other men are just as afraid to speak to her in the chance that they will come under attack from Curley.
She says this to Lennie because he is the only person on the ranch that treats her fairly and without any negativity like the other men do. Therefore, she feels safe around him and knows that he will not judge her. Additionally, she may recognise that Lennie has little understanding of what she is saying, yet still speaks to him out of desperation to let her feelings out. On the other hand, some readers may disagree, and think that she is only speaking to Lennie because she has understood that Lennie thinks she is 'purty', and knows that she will be able to get the sexual attention she wants from him, and manipulate him into doing what she wants. Either way, it shows her desperation for attention, and wanting someone to speak to, therefore telling us she is a lonely character.
- 31-12-2014 13:28