To what extent do you think he was successful? What are the aspects of these forms that he utilized?Steinbeck considered 'Of Mice Of Men' to be a synthesis of the play & the short novel....

To what extent do you think he was successful? What are the aspects of these forms that he utilized?

Steinbeck considered 'Of Mice Of Men' to be a synthesis of the play & the short novel. He hoped that it took advantage of the best aspects of both literary forms.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The novella has translated well to the stage, film, and TV.  So says Enotes:

  • Of Mice and Men was adapted by Steinbeck as a play, which opened on Broadway on November 23, 1937, and was directed by playwright George S. Kaufman. The play won the prestigious New York Critics' Circle Award for 1937 and ran for 207 performances.
  • The novel was also adapted as a film in 1939 and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Score by Aaron Copland, and Best Sound The film starred Burgess Meredith as George and Lon Chaney Jr. as Lennie, and was released by Universal; it was directed by Lewis Mileston. As of 1997, unavailable on video.
  • The novel was adapted as a film for television by ABC in 1968; it was directed by Ted Kotcheff, produced by David Susskind, and starred George Segal and Nicol Williamson.

Steinbeck intentionally wrote the novella the way a playwright stages a play.  Settings are described like scenes, and then characters make entrances and exits.  Each chapter is self-contained: the woods, the bunkhouse, Crooks' room, and the barn.

I think the magic of the play is lost on stage.  Steinbeck's thesis is related to Pragmatism: nature is hostile and men are cruel animals (e.g., Lennie is a bear; George is a fox).  Steinbeck relies on anthropomorphism: his animal-men are meant to be outside.  A stage is too claustrophobic for these characters.  The grandeur of the Salinas River valley is lost as a backdrop on a stage.

In my opinion, the novella is better adapted as a film, not a stage play.  The Sinise film, in particular, really captures the Eden quality of California and the work ethic of the men in the fields, outside, where they should be.  Also, the film uses real animals (Curley's dog, mice, puppies) to juxtapose Lennie.  All in all, the novella relies too much on action and anthropomorphism to be a play; it is better served as a film adaptation.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men has been termed a novella which does indeed mix the drama and the short novel.

I think the story was a success. I mean, we read it at almost every high school in the United States for analysis at a variety of grade levels. Obviously, it impacted the American people.

The characters and the roles they place could easily be organized into scenes.

In terms of a play, he developed the dramatic irony of the difference between what the audience knows and what various players or characters understand. For example, we as readers know how all the men feel about Curley and Curley's wife, but neither of them are privvy to this information. This is one of the indicative values of the play.

In terms of a novel, this has a clear plot and resolution to a problem. It gives us the understanding at the beginning that Lennie is capable of causing great strife and that George has been dealing with this for quite sometime. By the end, Lennie is no longer capable of causing problems. This situation only arise because George looks at the situation of the climax and makes the decision to do away with the problem.

Both the play and the novel follow the elements of every story: plot, conflict, and character development. Thus, Steinbeck effectively combines the two (already easily combineable) types of storytelling effectively.

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Of Mice and Men

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