The novel, ‘Of Mice and Men’, written by Steinbeck, convey many complex ideas. These include an optimistic view on the human condition and the empowering nature of the American Dream. In the novel, steinbeck examines these ideas and shows how the American Dream empowers the human condition to give hope to the characters, even if they do not achieve it. Steinbeck completes this through characterisation of Lennie and George, and plot. Therefore, Steinbeck conveys many important and complex ideas within this novel.
Steinbeck uses the characterisation of Lennie, in ‘Of Mice and Men’, to convey important and complex ideas. The character of Lennie, conveys the empowering effect of the American dream. Throughout the novel, Lennie constantly asks his friend George about their dream; to own a farm, live off the land, and own and tend to rabbits. This dream gave Lennie great hope for the future and the ability to focus on the positives in life, when he faced many troubles. This is evident at the end of the novel, when Lennie is hiding at the river. Lennie is clearly distressed and upset as he believes the dream will be taken away from him, but when George reaffirms the dream to him, he calms down and is hopeful again. “Lennie giggled with happiness”. This shows that having a dream give people hope in even the darkest of times, therefore recognising its empowering qualities.
Lennie’s character also shows important aspects of the human condition. Steinbeck also compares people without dreams to Lennie and George. This shows how the American dream helps Lennie keep hopeful and positive in a time of depression and trouble. This can be seen at the start of the novel, when Lennie urges George to recall their dream of having a farm. “(they) are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don’t belong no place…. They got nothing to look ahead to… With us it ain’t like that. We got a future.” This shows that having a dream helps individuals get through tough time as it creates purpose for them, thus explaining the empowering qualities of having a dream. Therefore, the characterisation of Lennie, enables Steinbeck to convey important ideas in ‘Of Mice and Men’.
Steinbeck also uses the plot of the novel to convey important ideas. The plot in this novel not only displays the importance of having a dream, but the human condition. The plot explores the human condition through many events that test the human condition of many characters. For example, when George is deciding what to do with Lennie after he kills Curley’s wife, the human condition is tested. George explore all alternative, acknowledging the consequences for both him and Lennie. “I guess we gotta get ‘im and lock ‘im up. We can’t let ‘im get away. Why, the poor bastard’d starve. ” This displays the human conscious and emotions linked to major decisions, as George would only make a decision that would be the most merciful for Lennie, thus displaying the human condition. Therefore Steinbeck uses plot to display important ideas within the novel, ‘Of Mice and Men’.
In conclusion, Steinbeck conveys the important ideas of the human condition and the empowering nature of the American Dream in the novel, ‘Of Mice and Men’. He does this through his use of characterisation and plot.