Which character archetypes can be found in Of Mice and Men?

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In literature, an archetype is an abstract figure that represents a particular pattern of human nature. Archetypes can thus be found across works of literature and are concretely embodied by characters in those works.

In Steinbeck's classic novella Of Mice and Men, George fits the "everyman" archetype in the story. George is a relatable character who is depicted as sympathetic, passionate, and understanding. George serves as Lennie's guardian and advisor and struggles to survive as a migrant worker. In the story, George displays integrity, honesty, and courage.

Curley fits the villain archetype and is portrayed as a callous, hostile man. He picks a fight with Lennie and becomes the leader of a mob determined to torture Lennie.

Curley's wife fits the archetype of a temptress, attractive yet dangerous. In the story, Curley's wife continually flirts with the workers and George warns Lennie to stay far away from her. Unfortunately, Curley's wife's beautiful hair is too enticing for Lennie not to touch, and he accidentally breaks her neck.

As a mentally handicapped individual, Lennie fits the outsider archetype in the story. He is not accepted by his peers and is excluded from certain activities. His developmental disability sets him apart from other characters, and he relies on George for protection and advice.

Slim fits the leader archetype in the story. Slim is the wise, experienced jerkline skinner, who is respected by his peers. Slim is a benevolent, understanding leader, who encourages George to do what is right at the end of the story.

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