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Dreams Impossible: Hope In Of Mice And Men

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Hope-an illusion. Hope-something to be seen but never achieved. Hope-something to look forward to, never a reality. Reality comes from action, not wishes. Hope-a thing with feathers, flighty, beautiful, unreal. In both "Hope is the thing with feathers", by Emily Dickinson, and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, hope is portrayed as keeping up one's spirit, and welcome when times are grueling, and sounding promising but not always making sense. Curley's wife dreams of being a movie star, and this keeps her married, if unhappily, to Curley, but her dream is actually a delusion, and while promising much, never actually delivers. George and Lennie are sustained throughout their troubles by their dream of a farm and escape from the migrant worker's life, and while it could have happened, Lennie kills Curley's wife, thus making their dream impossible. The poem describes hope as a tangible thing that is constant in the soul, and attracts people to it, but isn't based on reason.

In "Hope is the thing with feathers", hope is heard in troubled times and warms the soul, but isn't always rational. The poem says hope, "perches in the soul" (2). Hope is described as constant, and as an irrefutable part of us. But the 'perching' bird controls us, its 'claws' on our heart, and we feel compelled to never give up our dreams. Hope is also, "sweetest-in the Gale" (5). People cling to hope when life is hard, and hope is welcome when all else has failed. Hope comes to people anytime, anywhere. However pleasing hope is, it, "sings the tune without the words" (3). Hope is attractive, and promises much, but there are no words to back up the tune, and is mostly something to keep one's soul going, not something that will ever amount to anything or deliver on its promises. It is alluring to gamble everything on hope, but in the end, there aren't any 'words', and you'll always lose. Anyone can be both warmed and deluded by hope.

For instance, Curley's wife hopes to be a movie star, and this is her fantasy that occupies her time, and keeps her semi-content with Curley, but she deludes herself and could never actually go to Hollywood. Curley's wife says she, "could of went with shows" (86). Her fantasy is to be famous, important, and rich. She thinks about this, and this keeps her from thinking about her terrible situation. She hopes so much to go to Hollywood, that this becomes a part of her character, and she develops a haughty exterior. She perceives the reason she never was able to become a movie star was because, "[her] ol' lady stole" (97) a letter asking her to come to Hollywood. However, the man who said he could put her in the pictures was simply using her, and she was deluding herself to make her life bearable. If she admitted to herself that she was a failure, and hadn't an ounce of actor in her, she wouldn't have been able to stay with Curley and keep her pride. She would have either left the ranch, and Curley, or would have lost her will, and been an absolutely dull person. When she died, "the meanness and plannings and discontent and ache for attention were all gone from her face" (101). She was only 'happy' in death, because she knew in her heart that her dream was a sham, so she lived a tangled, busy life trying to distract herself from the impossibility of her dream. She truly was lonely for company, because being around Curley made her realize her position and question her dream. Her dream was her anesthetic, dulling her mind to the pain of the world.

If Lennie and George didn't have their dream, they wouldn't have had the drive in their life, and would have descended to the level



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