Where did the title "Of Mice and Men" come from?  

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck's novella is titled after a line in an 18th-century Scottish poem written by Robert Burns. Robert Burns's poem is titled "To a Mouse [on turning her up in her nest with the plow]," and describes how the speaker accidentally turns up a mouse's nest with his plow. The speaker then pauses and considers how humans and animals are different, yet similar in the fact that both are mortal. Burns also comments on how both humans and animals suffer and eventually die. The title of Steinbeck's novella comes from the line, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley," which means that no matter how foolproof humans' plans may seem, they often go awry. In regard to the poem, Lennie is metaphorically the mouse, and George is the human. Both Lennie and George experience suffering throughout their lives, and their plans of one day owning their own property are destroyed after Lennie accidentally kills Curley's wife.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title for John Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" comes from a poem written in 1785 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns.  The poem is entitled "To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough.

Perhaps the most famous line from that poem is "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley."  Which means something like "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

The Steinbeck novel focuses on the problems faced by Depression-era farmers hoping to own their own land, but having their hopes shattered.

jben1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Steinbeck took his title from a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. The narrator of the poem has destroyed a mouse's home while plowing his fields, and is filled with regret. In a famous line, he reflects that the "best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley [go often awry]." 

Yojana_Thapa | Student

The title comes from a poem "To a Mouse" by Robert Frost where the author sympathizes to a mouse for destroying it's home. The poem talks about how technology has made mankind powerful.