(Original post by lauxliz)
Ive just finished my year 11 exams so thought id try and help out any struggling students by putting on some of my of mice and men essays on here. I'm generally an A/A* student in English and my teacher has said they are of that standard. Here all essays on all of the characters (apart from candy as I accidentally deleted it). I did the WJEC exam board so if you do a different board then bear that in mind but I hope this helps out some people at least
Some are definitely longer than others but enjoy!
Show how Steinbeck uses the character of Carlson to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930’s. Steinbeck’s character, Carlson, is pivotal in conveying his comments on the issues and inequalities of 1930’s American society to the reader. As the character of Carlson isn’t crucially important to the plot of the novel we can infer that Steinbeck has constructed the character to symbolise the violent element of 1930’s America. Upon hearing of Lennie’s murder of Curley’s Wife he immediately says “Ill get my Luger”. This tells us that his initial reaction is to turn to violence to solve an injustice and this demonstrates how Steinbeck constructed the character of Carlson to symbolise the violent element of masculinity. Interestingly, the fact that Steinbeck shows Carlson immediately turning to violence upon hearing of the murder of Curley’s wife could also be interpreted as being a result of the life following the Great Depression. Steinbeck potentially uses Carlson’s link to violence and aggression to highlight how men became extremely frustrated with their lives and how they were not achieving their American Dream, and consequently took their anger out on others. In addition to this the term “Luger” refers to a German gun, and can also be interpreted to imply meaning. The novel was published in 1937 and so at the time it would have been primarily associated with World Wars 1 and 2; particularly with Nazi Germany. Consequently, the fact that Steinbeck shows Carlson as having a “luger” suggests that Steinbeck wants us to view Carlson as a Nazi, and as Steinbeck manages to portray Carlson and the idea of violence as evil and destructive to the reader. America fought against Germany in WW2 and heavily opposed the Nazi regime Furthermore, Carlson also belongs to the themes of Loneliness within the novel as Steinbeck presents him as being insensitive to George after he is forced to kill his best friend, evident in the quote “what the hell ya suppose is eating them two guys?”. Steinbeck has constructed the character to demonstrate how the Great Depression led to unemployment, forcing men to travel the country on their own in search for work. The fact that the line in question is also the final line of the novel and therefore holds a greater significance as Steinbeck succeeds in emphasizing how the migrant workers epidemic essentially resulted in a society of isolation, and made workers like Carlson completely oblivious to how men can form such strong friendships and care so much for each other.
Show how Steinbeck uses the character of Crooks to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930’s. Steinbeck’s character, Crooks, is pivotal in conveying his comments on the issues and inequalities of 1930’s American society to the reader. Steinbeck first presents the character of Crooks as having a predatory nature. This is shown when Crooks begins to taunt Lennie with the idea of George never coming back for him through the line “S’pose George didn’t come back”. On one hand it can be interpreted that Crooks is teasing Lennie for fun. This is evident in the line “Crooks’ face lighted with pleasure in his torture” as the term “Pleasure” has obvious connotations with enjoyment and implies that Crooks likes watching Lennie suffer and highlights the predatory nature of the human condition. One reason of why Crooks is doing this could be due to the Great Depression of 1929. As many Americans could no longer afford to entertain themselves by buying magazines or going to the cinema, Steinbeck could be trying to represent how men turned to making fun of those inferior to them for entertainment. However, the line can also be interpreted in another way relating to the theme of power and authority. Prior to the Great Depression, money and wealth was used to obtain and exert power over others however Steinbeck may be suggesting to us that because of the Great Depression American’s were forced to seek out power and status in different ways, including preying on those below them. It is evident that Crooks is doing this to gain authority over Lennie, as he is described as achieving some sort of “Private victory”. The term “Victory” connotes winning something and contributes to the lines suggestion that by taunting Lennie, Crooks has won authority over him. Interestingly, the fact that Steinbeck describes Crooks’ teasing as “torture” - a term with negative implications - also tells us that Steinbeck believes that Crooks’ actions were wrong and encourages the reader to not prey on those inferior to them and highlights how we should instead be kind towards one another. The character of Crooks is then also used by Steinbeck to highlight the issue of systemic racism evident in 1930’s American society. In the novel, Crooks resides in the Barn and is kept separate from the other Ranch hands due to the fact he is black - a concept named segregation which was established in the 1920’s. In Steinbeck’s description of Crooks’ room, he states that there is a “broken harness” and a “broken hame”. Both were seen to be common items which could be found on a ranch, while the Bunkhouse is described as containing “soap” “magazines” and “razors” - all luxury items. Steinbeck’s extreme contrast between the conditions of the two places is used to highlight how in the 1930’s black people were treated as second class citizens and people didn’t believe they were entitled to the finer things in life. In addition to this, Steinbeck’s repetition of the lexical set referring to fragmented items can also be interpreted to infer meaning. The fact that Crooks lives alongside these “broken” things in his day to day life could potentially be a metaphor used by Steinbeck to demonstrate how Crooks himself is simply one more broken thing within American society due to the colour of his skin. Interestingly the nouns associated with the lexical set - “harness” and “hame” - could also hold potential meaning. The two terms are items used to constrict and control animals, and by including these in his description of Crooks’ room, Steinbeck not only implies that due to the fact he is black Crooks is essentially seen as a beast or an animal in society, but also infers that Crooks has to be tamed or controlled and overall infers how black people were seen as animalistic beasts at the time and highlights the extreme racial discrimination evident in the 1930’s.
Show how Steinbeck uses the character of Curley to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930’s. Steinbeck’s character, Curley, is pivotal in conveying his comments on the issues and inequalities of 1930’s American society to the reader. Steinbeck first presents the character of Curley as being naturally aggressive. This is shown when Curley first lays his eyes on George and Lennie in Chapter 2 of the novel, where Steinbeck writes “his hands closed into fists”. The idea of Curley forming a “fist” has violent connotations as this is what is done to punch somebody. This immediately suggests that Curley is a very violent person by nature as his initial reaction is attack the two newcomers rather than greet them. Interestingly the fact that his hands close into fists when “his eyes pass over the new men” suggests that he turns to violence to exert/establish his power and authority over others, which further highlights Curley’s aggressive nature. However, an alternate viewpoint is that previously Curley exercised his power via his wealth as shown through the quote “____________”. But as a result of the Great Depression of 1929, American’s lost a lot of their money and so had to find alternative ways to obtain power and status over their peers. In addition to this, it can also be said that men turn to violence rather than academic achievements etc due to their frustration at their economic situation and their failure in achieving their so called American Dream. Finally the fact that overall in the novel Curley is portrayed in a negative light, can be interpreted to mean that Steinbeck uses the character to tell the reader that we should not seek power through violence and should perhaps live our lives in a pacifistic fashion. Continuing with the theme of power and status, Steinbeck also uses the character of Curley to highlight issues of nepotism and lack of social mobility in 1930’s America. Steinbeck describes Curley as wearing “high heeled boots” and from this we can infer that Curley is trying to make himself taller and physically prove his social superiority over the other ranch hands. However, the fact that he has to prove this by wearing the same shoes as his father (the boss) also highlights how it is really only his family which gives him a higher status rather than any of his skills which is why he is not respected by his peers. In contrast to this, we see how due to his physical skills (“capable of driving even 20 mules”) Slim is highly respected by the other ranch men, even being called the “prince of the ranch” which has connotations with royalty and supreme authority. The fact that Curley has more power and authority than Slim demonstrated a lack of social mobility in 1930’s society as Slim should be of a higher class than Curley due to his skills but isn’t financially. Finally, the fact that generally in the novel Slim is viewed in a positive light, also highlights how Steinbeck uses the characters of Curley and SIim to tell the reader that authority should only be obtained via hard work and skill rather than nepotism. The character of Curley is also used by Steinbeck to highlight a variety of social problems in 1930’s America regarding the position of women and Steinbeck achieves this through his description of Curley’s treatment of his wife. In section __ of the novel Curley’s wife says “I can’t talk to nobody but Curley, else he gets mad”. At a first glance this quote immediately suggests that Curley wont let his wife talk to the other men on the ranch. The phrase “else he gets mad” also infers that Curley becomes angry at his wife when she does talk to others. In addition to this the quote “Any you guys seen my wife?” and the fact that throughout the novel Curley is often seen to be looking for his wife implies Curley’s controlling nature and abusive tendencies due to the fact he gets “mad” when she talks to the men on the ranch. Furthermore, despite Curley’s wife being one of the main characters in the novel her real name is never revealed and she is only ever known as “Curley’s Wife” implying that she is not a real person but merely Curley’s possession. Steinbeck uses Curley to illustrate how it was common in 1930’s America for women to be treated as accessories and often abused by their male counterparts who dictate their lives. Overall within the novel Curley is portrayed by Steinbeck in a negative lights and so this highlights how Steinbeck uses Curley to deliver his social commentary that the unfair treatment of women at the time was wrong and women should be seen as equal to men. As the vehicle for Steinbeck’s commentary on the position of women, power and authority and violence, it is crucial for the reader to view Curley in a negative light as if they do not then they are unlikely to agree with the concepts of pacifism and gender and class equality as this is a key part of Steinbeck’s moral to the tale.
Show how Steinbeck uses the character of Curley’s Wife to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930’s. Steinbeck’s character, Curley’s Wife, is pivotal in conveying his comments on the issues and inequalities of 1930’s American society to the reader. Steinbeck first presents the character of Curley’s Wife as having a predatory nature. This is shown when Curley’s Wife tells Crooks that she “could get him strung up on a tree”. This quote clearly refers to the hanging of black people on trees which was a racist method used by the KKK and often regular American’s in the Bible belt states to murder black men and women in the 1930’s. Overall this quote primarily highlights the predatory nature of the human condition, as one reason as to why Curley’s Wife is doing this could be due to the Great Depression of 1929. As many Americans could no longer afford to entertain themselves by buying magazines or going to the cinema, Steinbeck could be trying to represent how people turned to making fun of those inferior to them for entertainment. On the other hand, the line can also be interpreted in another way relating to the theme of power and authority. Prior to the Great Depression, money and wealth was used to obtain and exert power over others however Steinbeck may be suggesting to us that because of the Great Depression American’s were forced to seek out power and status in different ways, including preying on those below them, and therefore, Curley’s Wife is instead taunting Crooks in order to gain authority over him.
George Steinbeck’s character George is arguably the most important character in the novel and has been constructed by Steinbeck to represent numerous social issues and inequalities evident in 1930’s America. The character of George links it to many prominent themes seen in the book, one of which regarding to Lennie’s mental health. George tells Lennie “God almighty, if I were alone I could live so easy!”. This quote immediatly tells the reader that it is very difficult for George to live alongside and support Lennie due to his mental condition as Lennie is frequently described as resembling a “kid”, implying that he has some sort of illness which reduces him mentally to that of a child. In the 1930’s there was very little awareness surrounding the topic of mental health and Steinbeck highlights the struggle of caring for somebody suffering from such conditions during this era through the often challenging relationship between George and Lennie. However, Steinbeck also uses the fact that George sticks with Lennie until the very end of the novel to demonstrate the theme of loneliness. This is achieved through George’s quote “guys like us are the loneliest guys in the world”. The term “guys” could refer to the migrant workers of America who were forced to travel around the country looking for work following an increase in unemployment after the Great Depression, and implies that George only stays with Lennie as he is in fear of being lonely. The fact that Steinbeck presents George and Lennie’s relationship as a positive one also demonstrates Steinbeck’s social commentary on the matter and shows how he believes that men should form friendships like George and Lennie’s and prohibit the society of isolation seen in Of Mice and Men. Alternatively, at the end of the novella Lennie is killed by George, and through this Steinbeck could be trying to demonstrate that any attempts of forming relationships are futile as loneliness will always prevail. In addition to this, an alternate meaning could also be evoked as the quote “God almighty, if I were alone I could live so easy” also holds ties to the theme of religion and God, and it could be interpreted as him praying for God to release him of Lennie. This evidently raises the question of whether George killed Lennie for Lennie’s own good or for George’s personal benefit. Alternatively, the phrase “God almighty” could also be viewed as George cussing or swearing at Lennie, and he appears to be doing this out of anger and frustration. Steinbeck could have included this line to highlight how because men struggled getting jobs and money, they became extremely frustrated with their lives and how they were not achieving their American Dream, and consequently took their anger out on others, particularly those inferior to them. In reference to the novel as a whole, this could also be the reason why the character of Carlson’s initial reaction to hearing that Lennie killed Curley’s Wife is violence evident in the line “ill get my Luger”.
Show how Steinbeck uses the character of Lennie to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930’s. Steinbeck’s character, Lennie, is pivotal in conveying his comments on the events and inequalities of 1930’s American society to the reader. Lennie is used by Steinbeck to symbolise the destructive nature of mankind. In chapters _&_ Lennie is described through metaphors relating to a horse and a terrier, these being “snorting into the water like a horse” and “____”. These are both rather powerful animals which demonstrates Lennie’s physical strength, and these animals are also both submissive to men, which demonstrates how Lennie is submissive to George. However, he is first described through a bear and a bull seen in the quotes “strong as a bull” and “arms like bears paws”. Neither of these animals are as domesticated as a horse or a terrier and here we see how Steinbeck links Lennie’s strength to danger. Furthermore the idea of Lennie’s power can also be seen as a metaphor for the stock market, as when he feels stressed that Curley’s wife is going to tell George what he has done he cracks and everything falls to pieces - much like the stock market crash of 1929. Upon further analysis it could also be implied that the character of Lennie symbolises how all of mankind is extremely vicious without some sort of motive (in Lennie’s case pleasing George) to keep us in line and how we are a society controlled by the stock market and our affinity for wealth. The character of Lennie and also his relationship to George is crucial in presenting the idea of mental health to the reader. George tells Lennie “God almighty, if I were alone I could live so easy!”. This quote immediatly tells the reader that it is very difficult for George to live alongside and support Lennie due to his mental condition as Lennie is frequently described as resembling a “kid”, implying that he has some sort of illness which reduces him mentally to that of a child. In the 1930’s there was very little awareness surrounding the topic of mental health and Steinbeck highlights the struggle of caring for somebody suffering from such conditions during this era through the often challenging relationship between George and Lennie. Interestingly, the idea of Lennie’s strength could also be interpreted to give an alternate meaning. Throughout the novel Lennie is continually described by the other ranch men through the lexical field of a child, with Slim saying “he’s jes like a kid”. The term kid “kid” tells us that Lennie is very unintelligent for his age and that his mental capacity is that of a child. From this we can infer that Lennie has some sort of mental disability which is not recognised by the ranch hands due to the lack of awareness surrounding mental illness during the 1930’s. In addition to this, we have seen how Lennie is described as “Strong as a bull” implying that he has a great amount of physical strength, and therefore we see how Steinbeck has given Lennie - a disadvantaged man - some form of hope as being physically strong is a quality highly valued in 1930’s society. This is because following the Great Depression unemployment rose drastically and men were forced to take unskilled laborous jobs as opposed to academic ones in order to earn money to survive. By giving Lennie this highly-looked-upon skill, Steinbeck succeeds in telling the reader that there is hope for America’s future and encourages the idea of the American dream.
Show how Steinbeck uses the character of Carlson to highlight some aspects of American society in the 1930’s. Steinbeck first presents the character of Slim as being extremely practical. This is achieved by Steinbeck through the quote “drowned 4 of ‘em straight out” when regarding to the new puppies his dog gave birth to, and he justifies this by saying “she couldn’t feed that many”. This portrays Slim as a rational and realistic character who does not get bogged down with emotions, simply doing what is in reality the fairest thing to do. However, the term “drowned” can also be interpreted differently. Drowning is generally perceived as being a very inhumane way to kill a person or animal, as it is excruciatingly painful. The fact that Slim was happy to “drown” the puppies which symbolise vulnerability and innocence suggests to the reader that in reality, Slim is just as brutal and violent as Carlson. In addition to this, the character of Slim also has links to the role of religion and authority in the novel. Throughout the novel, Slim is continually described through the lexical set of royalty and higher power, evident in the quotes “Prince of the ranch” and “Godlike eyes”. This tells the reader that Slim appears to hold immense status within the novel and also suggests that the character of Slim was constructed by Steinbeck to symbolise God. This idea is also supported by how Slim is seen to hold powers associated with God. As Candy’s dog is about to be shot by Carlson Steinbeck writes “Candy looked at Slim to try and find some reversal”. The term “reversal” indicates that Slim has the authority to reverse the decision to kill Candy’s dog and essentially command life or death which further enforces the concept that Slim symbolises God. Consequently however, the quote “drowned 4 of ‘em” also holds another alternate meaning. Given that Slim represents God in the novel, the fact that he - the most worthy man in the novel - is still happy to kill tells us that there is no hope for our society as if even ‘God’ is willing to commit murder, violence and death will always be present within our society. Furthermore, it is evident that Steinbeck uses the character of Slim to demonstrate the theme of intelligence within the novel and how intelligence is valued by American society. As previously stated, Slim is seen to hold a great amount of authority and status over the other men. Consequently, when Slim is introduced to the reader he is described only through his physical qualities shown in the quote “capable of driving ten, sixteen even twenty mules”, and this holds great significance as it is one of the first things we learn about Slim. The fact that Steinbeck only described Slim through his physical attributes rather than his intellect highlights how due to the plummeting economic climate of the era lower level jobs requiring only physical strength such as ranch work were easier to come by and therefore resulted in a society where the qualities are valued over intelligence.