Essay on Main Character in James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Essay on Main Character in James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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In James Thurber's short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the main character, Mr. Mitty, immerses himself into an alternate reality several times throughout the piece to escape the hollow, unexciting life he leads. These instances in which he takes the place of others in more thrilling situations are spurred by actual occurrences in his own life. Through the use of these alternate realities, Thurber shows the monotony of an average life and how even average beings search to test the waters of heroicness and bravery in important occupations.
The story begins as Mitty is captain on a Navy hydroplane in one of the worst storms in Navy history. This dream was most likely egged on due to the fact that when this story takes place, the rain is coming down and reminds Walter of something to do with the Navy, thus, he is a Navy Captain. He shouts orders ?Full strength in No.3 turret!? to his crew. In this scene, along with others, Walter is seen as the head honcho, giving orders and not receiving them in the slightest bit. This is in contrast to Mr. Mitty?s reality in which he makes no decisions and is dictated by his wife?s tyranny. For example, Walter is told,?Remember to get those overshoes?? Even though Walter puts up an argument, he is crushed by the authority of his wife, and shows how relationships, even today, are controlled mainly by women in some form or another, which just adds to the normality of Mitty?s boring life. After Walter?s dream of the Navy vanishes, due to his wife?s interruption, he drops her off at a salon where she is to have her hair styled and is asked by his wife, ?Why don?t you wear your gloves?? His response to this was to follow orders and slip the gloves on his hands one by one, which threw Mitty in...


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...ife of adventure. This last stand is showing how pointless Walter?s real life is, and the fact that Mitty is figuratively dead in his reality, which can also be backed by his saying in the beginning of the story that his wife seemed as if she were a stranger.
Walter Mitty?s life is pitiful and boring. He tries to escape this life of control and monotony by imagining an adventure any chance he has, which will be sparked by a random occurrence. In all the situations, excluding the firing squad scenario, Walter is putting himself in a powerful position in which he has all control. This is an attempt to repeal the strangle hold his world has on him just as his wife?s hold on him is absolute. In this short story by James Thurber, Walter Mitty?s life is more a dream than reality, trying to escape the clutches of a life he wishes to trade in for excitement and bravery.

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