In James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Walter Mitty faces the every day challenges of the real world. Thurber uses surreal dreams to allow Walter Mitty to escape these challenges. The main two characters are Mr. and Mrs. Mitty. Mr.Mitty finds himself in the middle of action packed dreams until someone or something brings him back to reality. Walter Mitty escapes through his fantasies because he lacks the strength to face reality and the courage to express his real feelings and opinions.
Walter Mitty uses his fantasies to avoid his wife. Ferguson points out that Mr.Mitty’s dreams usually occur during or after one of his dreams(433). Walter falls into his dreams to escape his wife even though sometimes he does not realize it. Ferguson further explains Walters flaws by explaining how he is to weak to stand up to his wife; therefore, using his dreams to escape his life with her(433). Walters wife is an obstacle that he learns to overcome with his dreams. Walters dreams allow him to avoid running errands with his wife. In “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, Walter escapes the errand running with his wife by taking a drag of a cigarette and slowly falling into one of his fantasies(Thurber 47). This shows us that Walter could care less about running errands with his wife and uses his dream to get away. Walter is happier in his dreams than he would be running errands with his wife. Critics label Mrs. Mitty as a scape-goat which allows Walter to use Mrs.Mitty fall into his dreams(Cheatham 608). Walter uses Mrs.Mitty as a reason to be able to dream. Ferguson explains how Mrs. Mitty is the reason that Walter is driving into town in the first place; he has to wait outside the drugstore and in the hotel lobby for her(432). In both scenarios Walter falls into his fantasies while escaping errands and waiting on Mrs. Mitty. Walter uses his dreams as a way for him to ignore his wife. Ferguson tells how Walter uses his dreams to block his wife out of his mind(433). Critics Label Mrs.Mitty as nag or an overbearing woman that is the true cause for Walters secret life(Ferguson 432). Mrs.Mitty drives Walter insane and triggers his dreams. Walter can not stand his wife and in response ignores her through his fantasies. In “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, Mrs.Mitty finds Walter in the hotel lobby in a daze while reading a news paper and ask him “Why do you have to hide in this old chair?”(Thurber 47). Walter without realizing has once again found himself in a dream.
Walter Mitty’s fantasies give him self confidence. Critics show how Walters heroic lifestyles and how he handles situations give him something to be proud of (Leidy 1259). Walter is awed by the dreams that he falls into. Whenever he needs a confidence boost he finds himself in one if these action packed fantasies. Walters dreams give him a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of pride. Prinsky explains how these dreams give Walter a feeling of triumph, the feeling...