The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men

Meanings of “The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men”

The phrase “the best laid schemes of mice and men” means no matter how carefully we make plans about something, misfortune or accidents might still happen to cause mild or heavy destruction. It also refers to people’s careful planning that may go wrong for some reasons.

Origin of “The Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Men”

The phrase “the best laid schemes of mice and men” could have originated from Robert BurnspoemTo a Mouse” published in 1876. The speaker unintentionally ruins the mouse’s nest while plowing a field, and later apologizes for that. Since then, the phrase has been used in almost the same sense but in different words.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

To a Mouse by Robert Burns

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy.”

These two stanzas speak about the tragic situation of a mouse whose house is destroyed by the poet. First, the speaker encourages the mouse that he is not alone, for even men face the same situation. The second stanza repeats the same thing that even the best schemes of human beings as well as of mice go in the drain. The phrase shows its use in its literal sense.

Example #2

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The novel, Of Mice and Men, is a parable that tells the story of two friends, George and Lennie, whose ambition of owning a ranch faces tragedy. Although they plan carefully to reach their goal, yet the obstacles on their way reveal the true nature of their dream.  Ironically, Lennie who made George’s desire of owning his own land worthwhile becomes the main interference to achieve his goal. The meanings of the novel are clear from the text human beings plan carefully to materialize their dreams, but tomorrow always comes with unexpected challenges and situations.

Example #3

The Best Laid Plans by James Blount

“You don’t like it in the shadows
You won’t let me shine the light
I would wash away your troubles
But it seems
The more that I hold on
The more that you let go
And I know, you better let somebody love you
Or find yourself, on your own….
Tell me why all the best laid plans
Fall apart in your hands
And my good intentions never end,
The way I meant.”

The singer is presenting a doomed person’s expressions who are not ready to embrace the speaker’s love and friendship. The speaker wants to eradicate his lover’s problems but she never opens up her heart for him. Thus, all his plans go wrong just because of the ignorance of his beloved. The phrase has been used as a metaphor for misery.

Example #4

The Best Laid Plans by Sidney Sheldon

The novel, The Best Laid Plans, speaks about the careful planning of the major character, Olive Russel. She details how this handsome, charismatic attorney wins political fame. Though he carefully plans everything keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences, yet Leslie Stewart, his fiancée, grows a media empire and ruins his image and career. The use of this phrase in the title seems correct that no matter how hard you try to plan your life, sometimes the careful planning faces a turbulent situation and throws you into the well of disappointment.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “The contractor planned to finish his work by April but the best-laid plans of mice and men don’t always accomplish. It will now be completed in August.”

Example #2: “Like many other students Jane decided to complete her syllabus before the final exams but she was unable to do so as the best laid plans of mice and men do not always succeed.”

Example #3: “Mr. Tom entered the meeting room and apologized about the event he canceled yesterday for some reasons referring to the fact that the best laid plans of mice and men do not always work accordingly.”

Example #4: “Even after careful planning, the employ’s corruption was caught by the manager, as the best laid plans of mice and men are often ruined by misfortunes.”

Example #5: “In the last cabinet meeting, the leader assured that two colleges will be opened in our area by 2025, but his early demise put a full stop on his vision. Now another leader may swing the lead in the coming year. Indeed, the best laid plans of mice and men do not always work out.”