Of Mice And Men Animal Imagery Essay

How does Steinbeck use animal imagery in ‘Of Mice and Men’?The title of John Steinbeck’s novel comes from a Robert Burns poem about the struggle for survival of a field-mouse: ‘The best laid plans o’ mice and men Gang aft agley’ which suggests from the outset that the lives of men and animals are closely linked in this novel.

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At the beginning of the novel not only do we learn about Lennie’s love of petting small creatures but we also learn about the hopes and dreams of the two characters.

The fact that the poem then goes on to say: ‘An’ lea’e us nought but grief and pain For promised joy’ is also highly relevant to the themes of the novel since the connotations of the title and the link to the Burns’ poem suggest that their dreams are doomed from the start.

Curley is extremely competitive, a trait that is evident in his desire to prove himself in a fight with Lennie and in his constantly asking where his wife is, as if he is competing with the other workers for her or demonstrating his "ownership" of her.

Jealousy consumes him, and he lives as if he is subject to Darwin's theory of "survival of the fittest." He is a stereotypical bully.

Moreover, Lennie does not just pet small animals, he pets them to death.

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When George takes the dead mouse away from Lennie it is obviously not the first time that this has happened.

Other characters, such as Curley and Carlson, demonstrate their animal-like natures in their interactions with others.

Despite the obvious connection between the human natures and animal natures of the characters in the work, some of the characters attempt to rise above their bestial nature by dreaming and seeking companionship.

Lennie is perhaps the most obvious example of an When they can me here, I wisht somebody'd shoot me" (Steinbeck 60).

Curley and Carlson, like Lennie and Candy, are connected with animals, but in a much different manner. and lack all sensitivity, all compassion for those more helpless and weaker in mind and body than they are" (Johnson 16).


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