To what extent can the charecter of Curley's wife be regarded as tragic figure in Of Mice and Men?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Curley’s wife is a tragic figure because she was a victim, of circumstances.  She did nothing to deserve death, other than be lonely.

A tragic figure is someone who suffers or struggles in a work.  The tragic figure often does not deserve his or her fate.  Curley’s wife is a tragic figure because she spent her life lonely and unappreciated.  She does not even have a name!  She is the ultimate objectified woman.

George looked around at Lennie. "Jesus, what a tramp," he said.

"So that's what Curley picks for a wife." (ch 2)

Curley’s wife is not really the “tart” or flirt everyone thinks she is.  She’s just lonely.  She is alone on the ranch surrounded by men.  It is not surprising how the men think of her. 

"I get lonely," she said. "You can talk to people, but I can't

talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How'd you like not to

talk to anybody?" (ch 5)

Curley’s wife had dreams.  At one point some man told her he could put her in movies.  She wanted to make something of herself.

Seems like they ain't none of them cares how I gotta live. I tell you I ain't used to livin' like this. I coulda made somethin' of myself." (ch 5)

She gets so desperate she goes looking around for anyone to talk to.  Instead, Lennie accidentally breaks her neck when she comes to him for company.

So while Curley's wife does not fit the role of a classic tragic hero, she is s till a tragic figure.