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“Of Mice and Men” is based on the major themes of hard reality, dreams, companionship and tragedy; particularly relevant to 1930’s America, following the depression and economic poverty it caused. Steinbeck portrays George as a flawed character who doesn’t display archetypal heroic qualities, however the reader empathizes with him. Steinbeck therefore ultimately presents him as a anti-hero within the context of the narrative. At the beginning of the novel, Steinbeck portrays George as a flawed character. George and lennie travel to a ranch , indicating the unsettled lifestyle of men during 1930’s.
Before arriving at the ranch, George loss his temper with lennie : “morosely” implying bad temper and unsociability, and perhaps emphasising George’s villainous side. another perspective may be the build up of Georges anger, due to complications in weed. Steinbeck implies this using the word “restless”. The enraged language heightens Georges villainous attributes, combined with adverbs “explodes” and “snapped”, increasing the readers confusion about George although they empathize with his hardships faced by staying with Lennie However, these hardships are questioned by his actions later in the novel.
Georges relationship with lennie conveys his character as a anti-hero, however this doesn’t highlight his lack of conventional heroic attributes. Lennie’s portrayed as protective towards George: nobody hurts George” “Lennie growled”. Nonetheless, this juxtaposition intensifies the contrast between the pair. Perhaps Steinbeck uses this to intrigue the reader about the dynamics of their relationship, heightening the human side of George and allowing the reader to empathize with George under the circumstances.
Steinbeck describes George as having “sharp strong features”: due to his work as a itinerant migrant worker during the US depression. However, the reader may begin to question if Steinbeck is using the adjectives to describe Georges physical appearance, or his strong character. Despite this, George’s most heroic quality is his intense care for others, specifically Lennie, where the reader observes the complexities of their companionship. “I never seen one guy take so much trouble for another” : Steinbeck allows the reader to notice Georges kinder human characteristics.
On the other hand, Steinbeck uses the adverbs “morosely”: the negative language empathises Georges villainous side. Additionally, Steinbeck uses the verbs “snapped” and “glared” to present George as harsh and sharp. Combined with “harshly” and “briskly” the readers ambiguous reaction towards George is increased, and some sense of heroism is lost. the loss is intensified towards the end of the novel. In contrast to George, Steinbeck describes lennie as “patient”. juxtaposing Lennie’s innocence with Georges frustration.
Despite this George looks “ashamedly” , which contrasts against his temper heightens his human characteristics compared with lennie “anguished face”. ** However this confuses the reader about Georges emotion towards Lennie’s, making the reader question whether Georges a hero or villain. The element of dreams is the most powerful symbol in the novel, representing the possibility of self-reliance and freedom. Steinbeck presents George as inventor of the dream, therefore his heroic attributes become visible. Steinbeck conveys George as essentially protecting other characters from the cruelties of the world.
Additionally, Steinbeck portrays George as an inspirational welcoming character, as George allows candy and crocks to become “bemused by the beauty” of the dream. However this heightens their desperation and loneliness but also the trust and reliance they have in George. Even though each character subconsciously knows the dreams a unrealistic goal, they are still “amazed”. George spoke “reverently” conveys his deep respects and awe towards the dream, almost as if it was sacred. This could connect to his surname “Milton”: reference to paradises lost a 1930’s poem about the destruction of a perfect place.
here, Steinbeck heightens his human attributes. perhaps another perspective could be that George allowed the character to dream falsely as he knew the dream wasn’t achievable. in the context of 1930’s economic situation, maybe he knew “they’d never do her” and he agreed as Lennie “usta like to hear about it”. on the other hand, the dream may have been created for Georges benefit and selfishness. Therefore, through George’s dream Steinbeck highlights both heroic and potentially villainous attributes of his character.
In the last scene, George murders lennie not through an evil intention but a mercy killing. Steinbeck creates a paradox as George intends to kill lennie however George portrays being cruel to be kind. Steinbeck’s presentation of Georges internal conflict is finally resolved. The reader observes that the Curley will punish lennie brutally and slowly; “shoot for his guts”. Therefore the reader empathises with George, as he makes a conflicted decision between two actions. In contrast to George, Steinbeck portrays Curley as an archetypal villain. Curley is described as “terrier”.
the malicious language elevates his villainous traits above Georges. combined with the adverbs “lashed” and “harsh” the readers negative reactions towards Curley heighten, as they’re unable to trust Curley, instead they feel a sense of alert and tension when he’s around. therefore, when comparing George and Curley, George villainous qualities decrease and his heroic actions become more visible. Despite Georges complaints about lennie, he feels a brotherly connection with Lennie because Lennie provides an escape form loneliness of a migrant workers who are ” the loneliest guys in the world”.
However, an alternative perspective that heighten George heroism, is that perhaps George killed lennie, as he realised Lennie was a danger to society. Overall, the reader witnesses the depth of the sacrifice George made, even though it shattered is own dreams, strengthening the readers empathy towards George. Despite this the reader is unable to forgive Georges actions. This concludes Steinbeck as portraying George as a conflicting character, an anti-hero.
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