vivid = lifelike, very real, potent (strong)
tension, suspense = building up a feeling that something is going to happen
ominous, foreboding = feeling, or mood, that something bad is going to happen
to portray = show, e.g. in what way does Steinbeck portray Curley’s wife? (EXPLAIN: (1) language techniques used to create the character, (2) how she sees herself, how others see her, how Steinbeck wants us to see her (3) how this character helps build up the themes of the book, (4) what her relationships with other characters tell us (5) does she balance or echo any of the other characters?)
to intensify = to make stronger, e.g. this intensifies (or adds to) the effect of

to exhibit = to show, to display, e.g. Curley’s wife exhibits profound loneliness.

to expose = to reveal (what is hidden), e.g. Of Mice and Men exposes the cruelties of life in the Great Depression

to present = shows, offers, creates, e.g. In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck presents a bleak world view, broken only by brief flashes of hope.

to represent = to create a view of, e.g. Steinbeck represents most of the characters as bitter and twisted, often literally deformed by the harshness of their lives.

to demonstrate = to show, to prove. e.g. This demonstrates that cruel conditions are intensely damaging.

to constitute = to form, to be made up of. e.g. the human body constitutes of 70% water. e.g. The human character is constituted by the way we are treated.

embodiment / manifestation = the human/ physical form of, e.g. he is the embodiment of misery, (or, ‘he is the personification of misery’), e.g. ‘The Holocaust was the worst manifestation of anti-semitism.’

to symbolise = to be a symbol of, i.e. to represent something else, Lennie’s death is a symbol of the death of hope (and/or the American dream) in America.