Friday, November 25, 2011

The Secret life of Walter Mitty


The Secret life of Walter Mitty is a story about an old man, a daydreamer who suffers from domination on the hands of his wife and a real psychological illness. Throughout the story, we see him shifting from the real world to his world of fantasy in a split second, triggered sometimes by a real life events or persons and easily interrupted. We also see him as a commander of a seaplane and as a skilled surgeon as he faces a delicate situation of a high profile patient. Despites all this, his domination by his wife remains a central theme in the story and a major factor in his life; therefore, we see him at times finding his way out of this domination by his own means. Thus, this essay deals with this issue by looking into Mitty’s domination and his means of escaping this domination.

The domination of his wife can be easily picked in the part where she tells him or rather enforce him to buy an over shoes in his opinion he doesn’t need it, and later asking him about his gloves, the moment in which in a childish way pulls them from the gloves box and puts them on. Throughout the story we see her treating Mr. Mitty like a mother treating her son not what like a woman will treat her husband, this can be noticed in the moment she ignored him when he said “does it ever occur to you that sometimes I am thinking?” and told him that she well get him home and measure his temperature.


Mitty’s daydreams are his immediate escape from his harsh reality of being under his wife’s commanding powers. In these dreams, he lives in a world where he is no longer controlled by his wife. We see him as a dominant, skilled, talented and brave person.  In his first dream, for instance, while he was driving his wife to the beauty shop in the town, he was imagining himself as a commander of a plane, a commander who shows no fear facing dangerous situations, and he has the trust of his crew members because of his long experience, but his dominating wife brings him back to his nightmarish reality by yelling at him as he was driving too fast, the thing his wife doesn’t like.

In his second dream, we see him as a very skilled surgeon, who was called to perform a delicate surgery on a rich and well-connected patient, with two other surgeons one from England and the other was in his real life his physician. During the dream he shows signs of various skills, like when he was able to fix a complicated machine only using a pen. He was pulled back to his bitter reality with the shouting of a parking-lot attendant. At the same moment, the shouting of a newsboy triggers his third dream when he is this time accused of a murder which he confesses of committing despite his lawyer’s efforts to prove otherwise. Then a dark-haired girl runs to him and the District Attorney strikes her and he is again interrupted with the laughing of a passing woman on him when he was dreaming he said the word “puppy biscuits” loud, as he remembers the item that his wife told him not to forget while he was buying  stuff.

When he bought the biscuits, he returned to the lobby of the hotel, waiting for his wife, he started reading an old edition of a newspaper about the power of Germany. His imagination triggered by the headline of the newspaper. He is now a pilot of a military plane, and, again showing no fear facing dangerous situations and his partner cannot fly with him. He bravely tells a commander that he will do it alone, as he leaves to start the mission in a dangerous condition his wife pulls him back to the real world when she tells him that she has looked all over for him. When they are about to leave, Mrs. Mitty stops at the shop to buy an item, meanwhile Mr. Mitty fancies about him bravely facing the firing squad at the end of the story.

Walter Mitty’s condition can be explained as a person who suffers from an illness, as mentioned before, called Attention Deficit Disorder. When he starts to imagine himself in different situations, bravely and with skill, it shows what he lacks in real life, the ability to be the alpha man due to various reasons, one of which is the way he was raised and the environment where he grew up.