Irony in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men


Can you please give me some examples of irony in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men?  Does irony contribute to the theme or themes?


Many of the ironies in Of Mice and Men support the idea that oppression is a human weakness rather than, for example, a race or gender issue.  Consider Lennie – he has a large build, and accidentally inflicts harm – but he does have a gentle spirit, and is essentially controlled by the much smaller, but much wiser, George.

Although the characters are oftentimes together and have close relations with one another, many of them state that they are lonely; lack companionship and happiness; and feel isolated.  It is ironic that despite their seemingly close relationship, Lennie and George are torn apart by tragedy at the end of the novella, they never own a farm together, and George’s shooting of Lennie is justified by Slim.  Lennie, George, and others talk openly about their dreams, even though their dreams are nearly impossible to achieve, and these unattainable goals contradict the “American dream.”

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