Loneliness and Alienation in of Mice and Men


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In this essay, I will try to describe the features of loneliness and alienation throughout the novella Of Mice and Men and demonstrate how it influenced the lives of the book’s characters.

Of Mice and Men is a controversial novella written by American author John Steinbeck in 1937. It is considered to be a very favorite and coveted title among readers from all over the world and is also taught in many schools. However, this novella is the bearer of several controversial topics which are either insulting, heavily debated, or challenging. That was also one of the reasons why I chose this book for my essay.

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Loneliness and alienation can be considered to be very recognizable themes of the novella. The author does not mention them directly in the novella, but the readers can easily distinguish them in it. They are both independent and different terms, however, they do have something in common and throughout the novella, they mingle with each other. Both of these terms are really harsh and painful and play a huge role in the lives of the book’s characters.

“Loneliness is a uniquely painful feeling that exudes an aura of emptiness, in which plagues its victims. The feeling of loneliness is so powerful that it has the power to jade people of life, as well as take a detrimental toll on one’s emotional mindset.” ( From that definition, it is obvious how loneliness affects one’s mental health and features depression, skepticism, and suffering.

I think it is obvious to say that alienation and loneliness can be easily distinguished from the title Of Mice and Men. As different as they may seem, mice and men (people) do have something in common. For people and mice, it is natural to live in a society, or a group of several individuals at least. Being alone for a long time is not healthy for anyone, neither for people nor for mice. If we catch a mouse and then separate it from her group of mice, better said her nest of mice, the mouse will be stressed and die soon after that. In the case of men (people), the situation is going to be very similar. People are very sociable creatures, used to live in a society, tied families or at least have a significant one. If one experiences loneliness or even alienation for a longer time, it will have a big impact on his personality, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or mental stability. It is possible that he can get under big pressure, suffer abuse, stress, or depression and even have suicidal thoughts.

Another way of expressing loneliness and alienation from the title can be described in these words: “We should pity all of them because, like the mouse, they are homeless and helpless, subject to catastrophe at practically any moment. We ourselves are all like these characters, we are all vulnerable to unforeseen disasters, and therefore we should identify with these people who are our poor earth-born companions and fellow mortals”. (Delaney, 2014).

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