Studying The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty English Literature Essay

Although Walter Mitty ‘s reverie life has much exciting action, his waking life, as recounted in the narrative, is everyday, uneventful, and, at a deep subconscious degree, unsatisfying. In his waking life, Mitty motors on a wintry twenty-four hours with his married woman into Waterbury for the regular hebdomadal trip to shop and for Mrs. Mitty ‘s visit to the beauty parlour. After dropping his married woman away at the salon, Mitty drives around aimlessly for a brief clip, so parks the auto in a parking batch, purchases some overshoes at a shoe shop, with some trouble remembers to purchase puppy biscuit, and goes to the hotel anteroom where he ever meets his married woman. After a short clip Mrs. Mitty appears, kicking to Mitty about the trouble of happening him in the big chair where he has “ hidden ” himself, and so for a “ minute ” ( really much longer ) leaves Mitty standing in forepart of a nearby apothecary’s shop while she goes to carry through something she forgot.Interspersed with these events are Mitty ‘s five reveries or phantasies, which non merely are induced by the events of his waking life but besides affect them.

Subjects and Meanings

James Thurber ‘s look through his word picture of the supporter of the awkwardness, subjugation, and disappointment about all human existences at some clip experience in their lives in the existent universe ( peculiarly in in-between age ) is so universally applicable that the name “ Walter Mitty ” has been canonized as a term in the English linguistic communication denoting these thoughts by inclusion in the Webster ‘s Third New International Dictionary ( 2002 ) and Merriam-Webster ‘s Collegiate Dictionary: Tenth Edition ( 1993 ) .

The narrative ‘s four chief subjects are the contrast between a human being ‘s hopes for life and its actuality, the power of the head or imaginativeness, the struggle between the person and authorization, and the dominance of engineering and philistinism in the 20th century. These subjects are conveyed through the deflating disparity between Mitty ‘s heroic ability and stature in his five reveries and his hesitance, obsequiousness, and awkwardness in existent life. Mitty ‘s first phantasy of captaining a seaplane in a awful ice storm is shot down, so to talk, by his tyrannizing married woman, who says that Mitty is driving the auto excessively fast on the icy main road into town. Mitty ‘s 2nd phantasy, of being a published, world-renowned medical specializer and sawbones, is punctured by holding been evoked by a dual subordination, to his married woman and to the household physician ; in subconscious reaction to his married woman ‘s sponsoring attitude in her response to his main road drive.

In his 3rd reverie, Mitty, the suspect in a slaying test, is yet in control in the courtroom, courageously detonating his lawyer ‘s alibi that Mitty ‘s right arm was in a catapulting the dark of the slaying ( Mitty boldly announces his adept two-handed marksmanship ) and with vernal virility adroitly pluging the mentum of the territory lawyer, who has physically accosted Mitty ‘s beautiful immature beloved on her hasty haste to fall in Mitty on the informant base. The instantly preceding scene, nevertheless, which stimulates the reverie, shows Mitty as manually unqualified ( unable to park his auto decently or take tyre ironss ) , impotently subsidiary to both the parking attender and the garage machinist who removes the tyre ironss, and indistinctly and unhappily cognizant of being middle-aged in contrast to the cocky young persons taking charge of his car.

To the more elusive domination of his married woman ‘s doing him wait in the hotel anteroom, Mitty ‘s subconscious counters with the 4th phantasy of being a forceful, dauntless, and casual World War I British aeronaut. Finally, to the minor humiliations of being disregarded by his married woman and told like a kid to wait in forepart of the apothecary’s shop, his imaginativeness answers with the last phantasy of Mitty ‘s being the victim of a fire squad, physically under some restraint but still in control of the state of affairs by his proud and contemptuous bearing.



Beyond Mitty ‘s subconscious hunt in his reverie for power, freedom, and authorization in his dealingss with people is a pursuit for command over engineering, one of Thurber ‘s perceptively prophetic subjects in this 1939 narrative. In all reveries except the last, Mitty can like an expert pull strings some technological instrument, whose complexness is normally emphasized in the description of it: the seaplane with its “ row of complicated dials, ” the “ immense, complicated ” anaesthetizer with its “ row of glittering dials, ” any piece ( and particularly the Webley-Vickers 50.80 ) , and the two-man bomber, which “ Captain ” Mitty can heroically fly entirely. A motive of the same sound emitted by the assorted machines in each of the phantasies, “ pocketa-pocketa, ” emphasizes their technological presence.

Mitty seeks power and control over engineering in reveries because he is capable to it and to its accountants in existent life, as exemplified by his assorted troubles with his car. Even the more crude technological device of the hotel ‘s revolving door seems in confederacy to mock or subordinate him, for as he leaves, it makes a “ faintly gibelike whistling sound. ” Besides its onomatopoeic propensity in conveying the sound of machinery, the “ pocketa ” motive may besides propose Mitty ‘s feeling of parturiency or restraint by engineering, of enclosure as if in a pocket.

Mitty ‘s feeling of oppressive enclosure in his life is expressed by the edifices of Waterbury “ lifting up ” and “ environing him ” after his 3rd phantasy, and the sergeant ‘s comment “ the box bombardment is shuting in ” in the 4th phantasy every bit good as Mitty ‘s reverberation, “ things near in, ” when impolitely jolted awake by his married woman in the hotel anteroom. The prevailing mentions to winging in his phantasies are non inadvertent, for they reflect Mitty ‘s desires for flight and freedom ; the magazine that he casually scans in the hotel anteroom, which is the immediate cause of his 4th phantasy, has the appropriate rubric Liberty. In one sense, the overall form of Mitty ‘s five phantasies is unhappy because their tendency is toward an progressively certain decease of the fantasy supporter, which suggests that Mitty ‘s hope and the reader ‘s for him are declining.


Harmonizing to the narrative ‘s decision, Mitty ‘s married woman, who possibly could help him, does non. In response to an unexpected though oblique assertiveness from her hubby, she continues in her failure to accomplish sympathetic apprehension of what ails her partner. Alternatively, she remains aligned with the oppressive forces of engineering and philistinism, neglecting to feel that her hubby is non enduring from a physical or material complaint, and so does non necessitate to see Dr. Renshaw or to hold his temperature taken, her mercenary solutions proposed at the narrative ‘s beginning and stoping. Rather, with some poignancy, Mitty remains entirely, expecting his reverie fire squad ; he is “ cryptic, ” because no one around him recognizes his interior defeat and hurting. However, his reveries, paradoxically, do let a mensural victory every bit good. In a sense he is a limited master in his phantasies, but a master, even in the last, which recalls a similar thought in Thurber ‘s fable “ The Moth and the Star ” that victory of the imaginativeness have their ain compelling world.