Gender Roles In Of Mice And Men

1255 Words 6 Pages
Mary Shelley, 1800’s feminist and the famous author of Frankenstein once said “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.” Women of the past constantly dealt with misogyny and were thought to be a threat to society. This is especially apparent with Curley’s wife, a character from John Steinbeck’s book, Of Mice and Men. Set in the 1900’s, the book sets up stereotypical gender roles with men depicted as the superior sex and women being treated like property or a pests. Completely surrounded by men, Curley's wife is shut out and avoided, just because of her gender. Although Curley’s wife is not the most intelligent or successful, she still had the basic need for attention and friendship. Like Mary Shelley described, Curley’s …show more content…
Because she’s the only women on the farm, Curley’s wife is lonely and roams the farm to talk to people. However, all the farm hands constantly ignore her and the only physical attention she receives is from her husband forcing her into sexual activities. When she tries to talk to Lennie, he tells her, "Well, I ain't supposed to. George's scared I'll get in trouble." (Steinbeck Page). Everyone on the farm is told to avoid her at all costs, in fear that she’ll disrupt their dreams. By refusing to speak to her, the men deny her basic human interaction and cause her to become desperate for friendship and attention. Even though Lennie eventually talks to her, he has the mental capacity of a five year old, showing just how much the men disrespect her. She is deemed so unworthy and alienated from the group that they refuse to even let a five year old be friends with her, a grown women. Furthermore, Curley’s wife has a greater mental capacity and arguably a better personality than Lennie, yet the men are quick to accept him rather than her. This is solely due to her gender and frankly, shows how men shut out any woman even if they are better than the men themselves. By not addressing her by her name and cutting off all social interactions, it is shown that the men of the farm try their best to segregate Curley’s wife from them. These attempts highlight society’s thoughts on women in the time …show more content…
Throughout the book, Curley’s wife is deemed a flirt and described somewhat as a seductress. When George asks about Curley’s wife, Candy tells him, “Well- she got the eye." He later elaborates by saying, “ I seen her give Slim the eye. Curley never seen it. An' I seen her give Carlson the eye." (Steinbeck Page). Here, Candy is telling George that Curley’s wife flirts with the farm hands behind her new husband’s back. However, she never made sexual advances toward any of the men nor did she show signs of actual flirting throughout the whole book. Since women were seen as mere possessions rather than people, they were assumed to be too unintelligent to hold a real conversation. Instead, it was thought that the only reason for women to talk to men was for flirtation purposes. This explains why Candy and the other men interpreted Curley’s wife’s attempts of friendship as advances. Because Curley’s wife was seen as below the men and therefore less intelligent, they concluded she only had the capability to seduce them rather than befriend them. These assumptions of Curly’s wife coming onto the men later built to them thinking she ruined their

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