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Dreams in “Of Mice and Men” is influenced under the poem “To A Mouse” by Robert Burns and the relationship between the poem and the novel is seen through the build-up to the characters hopes and dreams at the time of the great inflation and how they struggled to keep up with their ambitions.
The context in both texts clearly portrays the death of the future plans the working class keep to at that time and the writers do this to illustrate the chances of normal people succeeding and how being born into a hierarchy means that you’re destined to a class in society.
In Of Mice and Men, Lennie is introduced with a “shapeless face” and animal imagery is used to signify his strength, “bear drags his paws”, this portrayal of Lennie sets him apart from George in the hierarchy.
As the story develops the readers understanding of George’s and Lennie’s relationship does to, the reader realises that the theme that keeps both the key protagonists motivated is the dream.
This is further developed when Steinbeck introduces the dream for the first time, “I remember about the rabbits, George”, it is clear to the readers that Lennie is academically weak and in order for him to remember about the dream indicated how much it means to him and it’s possibly the thing that matters to him most.
However early in the novel Steinbeck uses animal imagery to foreshadow the death of Lennie and the death of the dream, “shoot you for a coyote”, the author highlights his vulnerability and his death in the future to suggest that his weakness academically is what possibly lead him to his death.
In the beginning of the novel George gets into a quarrel with Lennie about ketchup, “we ain’t got any”, during George’s rant he clearly emphasizes on what he sees as the American dream in comparison to what they both see.
George leads on to imply that Lenny is a road block to his dream and this is partially true as it is what Lennie did towards the end of the novel that killed the chances of the dream. George’s dream can be considered as a typical working class dream as it isn’t very promising and has no future outlook. The death of the dream in Of Mice and Men seems to be blames on a certain individual, the death of George and Lennie’s dream is blamed on Lennie and later in the novel we learn that the death of Curley’s wife’s is because of her “ol lady”.
In the novel Curley’s wife is portrayed as a social outcast alongside the “nigga” but this time because of her gender as they lived in a sexist society. However beneath her make up her interior reveals her dreams and how they were crushed as well, the reader also finds out that her sexual weapon is to grab the attention of the ranch workers as no one gave her the recognition she wanted. Curley’s wife’s dream is fully revealed towards the end of the novel with her explain it to Lennie, she clearly illustrates her very independent dream however it is also clear that she is very dependent on men when it comes to making the dream a reality.
This maybe the reason why her dream was locked away and only brought out when she needed it to emotionally look back at it; considering that she lived in a men’s society it means that women are held back from what they wanted to do and were expected become a housewife. This is the main road block that Curley’s wife comes across making her dream futile. Throughout the novel the reader realises that the characters that we’re too eager for their dream (Lennie and Curley’s wife) reaches their destiny, quite dramatically, with their death.
It seems that both characters had something in common – lack of power, the protagonists had a lack of power meaning that they were vulnerable to society however Curley’s wife attempted to cover it by putting on a lot of makeup but it is clear that your weakness will eventually go against you. Furthermore both characters dream was clearly futile from the beginning of the novel as both characters seemed to depend on another person in order for their dreams to succeed.
In Lennie’s case it was George and Curley’s wife needed a man. Steinbeck reinforces the themes of Power and powerlessness with links to the dream to suggest that there is some sort of bond with making the dream and having the power to make it. This portrayal in Of Mice and Men illustrated not only the fact that succeeding during the Great Depression was very limited but the fact that without power or status, which both characters lacked in, the chances of making the dream was nil.
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