Themes Of "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty"

1209 words - 5 pages

James Thurber is the author of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. He feels inferior to his wife throughout his marriage. He learns to express these feelings through writing short stories and illustrating cartoons. This is a way for him to escape his everyday life with his wife. Critics have acknowledged Mitty motif, which is used to describe his two major themes in many of his major works such as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Morsberger 66). “The Secret Life of Walter Witty” is one of the most well know short stories by James Thurber (Morsberger 44). His themes are evident throughout the story. Also, he is able to become alive through the story by expressing imagination. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” explores the main themes of disharmony between the sexes, males’ escaping routine, and life as a married couple.
In the Mitty motif, there are two themes, and the first is, “...the domination of the American male by the American female” (Morsberger 66). In James Thurber’s short stories the women are domineering over the men (La Blanc, Michael and Ira 40). Women no longer want to be inferior to men. In “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, Mitty’s wife bosses him around. This suggests she does not respect her husband. Mitty fails to meet his own idea of masculinity, which in return allows the wife to take power (“Men and Masculinity”). Prior research states that “Thurber embraces the type of masculinity that Walter idealizes in his fantasy” (“Men and Masculinity”). Walter Mitty is a poor driver, a husband who does not care, and a forgetful man (“Men and Masculinity”). He no longer puts forth effort in his marriage. People in the story treat Mitty as a grumpy older man, but he imagines himself to be no such thing, but as a great man with a bright future (“Dissatisfaction”). In James Thurber’s works men and women can never understand each other, which would make it hard to live with one another in the same house (Men and Women 40). The woman in this story plays the role of a man (Men and Women 40). When a woman believes she can be the male role in the relationship as well as the female role, then she desires nothing less. If the male, which is Mitty in this situation, has the desire to be masculine as well will be the main source of their day to day arguments. In result, living under one roof makes more arguments than wanted in this particular relationship.
The other theme in the Mitty motif is “...the bewilderment and exasperation of the American male and his efforts to escape through the imagination...” (Morsberger 66). Escaping reality is vital for Walter Mitty because he is not a very masculine man, so he must imagine himself to be (“Men and Masculinity”). A male never wants to admit to the failure of masculinity, so escaping reality will aid Mitty through this situation. Men and Masculinity asserts, “in his fantasies, however, he is skilled, decisive, bold, brave, and perhaps most importantly, respected by those around him” (“Men and...

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