Curley's Wife

Part of an essay on characters in Of Mice and Men. :)

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  • Created by: Tangila
  • Created on: 28-04-11 22:56
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Is Curley's Wife an important character in 'Of Mice and Men'? How does she fit into the themes of the novel?
In the novel, 'Mice and Men' the others characters refer to her as Curley's wife making her the only character John
Steinbeck has created without a name. By not giving her a name she seems like an insignificant character but Steinbeck uses this
technique to emphasise the position of women in society. From her name, it suggest she is Curley's possession rather than a person
with her own individual identity. Through Curley's wife, the theme of sexism is emphasised therefore making her an important
character in the novel. He illustrates this theme through Curley's wife as women in the 1930's were powerless simply because of
their gender.
In her initial appearance, Steinbeck describes her as wearing, 'a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of
which were little bouquets of red ostrich feather'. Curley's wife is wearing clothing which would be worn when going out on a special
occasion. This is inferred by the 'bouquets of red ostrich feathers' as in those times, ostrich feathers were considered to be a rich
person's belonging or an belonging worn during an outing. She seems to be roaming around the ranch to gain attention from other
ranch workers despite being married to Curley, the bosses son. This is not only suggestive of her flirtatious nature but the fact that
she is lonely and desperate for a companion. It seems as though she does not receive this from her marital relationship with Curley.
Furthermore, 'cotton house dress' is suggestive that her position lies inside her house. As John Steinbeck places her in
this cotton house dress, it emphasises this but it also suggest that without the dress she wouldn't belong in the house. Steinbeck
seems to be voicing his views that women shouldn't be trapped in an house and it also shows her behaviour that she is not homely
but she is made to be. Also, the use of 'house' shows that she is a part of an artificial scene implying that she is living in atmosphere
where she has no importance which is a contrasting atmosphere to if she was living in her 'home'. He uses this to reinforce the idea
that women were isolated with no rights and society was shaped in a way where women belonged in their house and were objects
for men.


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