Mitty Choose To Escape From Reality The Way They Do Essay, Research Paper
Why do the poor relation and Walter Mitty choose to escape from reality the way they do? How successful are they.
The short stories of Walter Mitty and the poor relation are in many ways very similar. They both escape to this imaginary life through one way or another. The poor relation escapes in the context of a story he is telling to family and freinds. To start with he tells us his life story ,but this gradually changes so his life s outcome is very different to reality. He tells us of the changes he would like to make to his life, and his regrets. He makes them become vivid and entertaining by pretending that in fact these imaginary events actually occurred and he is actually a very different person to that one his friends and family imagine him to be.
However Walter Mitty escapes by regularly daydreaming. He imagines and almost believes that his life is very different in a number of contrasting ways. His daydreams are not about his regrets, or aspects of his life. They are instead about almost impossible dreams that stretch the borders of reality because they are so diverse. This shows that Walter Mitty has a far larger imagination than that of poor relations. It is because of this these daydreams are both exciting and unrealistic. He perhaps realizes that because he is daydreaming he doesn t have to make all his stories plausible and this results in far more unbelievable dreams.
Walter Mittys real life is very uneventful. In the story we see him going shopping and doing errands while his wife gets her hair cut. This seems to be something that they do often. The main problem in his life at the moment is whether or not to buy overshoes. This is a perfect example of the tediousness that Walter Mitty has to deal with. We also see that his wife likes to boss Walter around. His constant daydreams into another world mean that Walter often makes mistakes such as driving too fast or not being able to park. It is because of this many people underestimate him or treat him as inferior. He feels unwanted and this makes him paranoid resulting in a further need to escape into another world where peoples opinion of him is very different.
In the poor relations story we see a similar but still very different picture. While the poor relations life is still very uneventfulhe has a different kind of reality. He follows the same routine every day. He has no job and rents a room he can only stay in at night. He eats the same food every day and can t afford often even the most basic of things such as fuel for the fire. He spends his days in London doing nothing. He s says in the beginning ” I never met with any particular success in anything”. However we feel that he has a considerable lack of ambition to achieve anything more than this. Deeper down he has a serious lack of self confidence stopping him from trying to achieve more in life. However unlike Walter mitty he is looked down upon for a different reason. Rather than the tendency to daydream and make mistakes the poor relation has serperated himself from normal life and has instead chosen the path of isolation. A very lonely and poor man it is not necessarily the boredom of life which he dislikes but that he is not really socially acceptable. He has no wife,family or friends. He feels that people do not enjoy his company and he brings shame on those he does know. This is said in the quote ” a person so unimportant to the family as I am”.
Walter Mitty is an escapist. He escapes from his ordinary life by daydreaming about being things he could never be.. However he may not be aware exactly what he is escaping from. Walter has done with his life what is socially acceptable and what he was advised to do. But this has resulted in this trivail life and also being bossed around by his wife. The mistakes walter makes all too often cause people to pity him and Walter does not like this. From the beginning his wife is telling him off for driving too fast. She says ” it s one of your days, I wish you d let Dr Renshaw look you over”. She also tells him to get overshoes even though he didn t want them. He then gets told of by a cop for driving at the red light and has to let the parking attendant put away the car because he couldn t do it and the parking attendant is short tempered with him . He then comes up with a plot to pretend he s injured so in the future when he can t fix something there s no need for someone to humiliate him if they have to help. This implies that not only do people humiliate him but he is actually paranoid of becoming embarrassed of these mistakes. To escape from it Walter daydreams only causing himself more problems. Walter can improve his life by not daydreaming, and therefore making fewer mistakes causing a better quality of life that he does not need to escape from.
On the other hand if what Walter dreams about really are his unobtainable ambitions he can improve his quality of life. In his dreams he wishes to became anything from a navy pilot to a world class surgeon, an accused top criminal or a fighter pilot and Walter Mitty undefeated, inscrutable to the last! While these are all unobtainable ambitions they carry a pattern. All these careers Walter wishes for carry a sense of respect and they involve Walter being the best at what he does. So while we perhaps think that he wants to do all of these jobs this is not the case. Walter Mitty simply wants to be the best at what he does and for that something to be something which gains him respect and a better image certainly than the one he currently has. He realizes perhaps too much that he is a failure. This lack of confidence means that people dislike his personality and he has not had the motivation to solve this. He has a large self confidence problem and a lack of pride in himself. At the beginning he tells us that he was” unbuissness like and credulous” when in fact he could have done well had his uncle approved of his choice of a wife.
Walter Mitty escapes from the reality of his pitying and boring life by daydreaming. Those daydreams it seems are triggered by something in everyday life. For instance when he passes a boy selling papers of the waterbury trial he lapses into a daydream where he is a criminal in court. He starts thinking about who was involved in the trial and then instantly becomes one of the accused in the trial. When he is driving the car he becomes a pilot because he is still driving but driving something more exciting.
Although Walter Mitty realizes what is happening is in a daydream it does become to him very real. His surroundings change and that is all Walter thinks about. This daydreaming to Walter is almost addictive. It makes him feel good and he prefers this to real life so he does it more often. It is certainly easier for him to accept what he is in another world and place than real scenarios in his life. His reputation in real life disallows him to be the person he wants to be, heroic and intelligent. By daydreaming and being heroic etc. he is proving to everyone who he really is in his head. Proving those who doubted him wrong.
The poor relation however is a different case. He starts telling people simply about what s happened in his life. Very early on though he starts to lie. He carries on telling us what happened in his life. Then where the truth is not what he wanted it to be for instance when his fianc e ran off with a better man leaving him without a love or job he changes it so that he stresses the point that she did not do this. This is the way the poor relation imagined his life should be and therefore is far more realistically possible than Walter Mittys daydreams. We can see he is doing this when he says (referring to his partner)
“He did not begin to treat me coldly, as a poor simpleton, when my uncle and I so fatally quarreled; nor did he afterwards gradually possess himself of our business and edge me out. On the contrary he behaved to me with the utmost faith and good honor”
It is almost as if he is correcting the past. The poor relation realizes that what he is saying is not true. This is proved by the fact that he is only telling us this story as part of an evening entertainment game. However the poor relation wishes that what he is saying is true.
Walter Mitty it seems daydreams to escape from the realities of everyday life. In his normal life we find that Walter is permanently under pressure from his bossy wife and humiliated by the public on a regular basis for being quite so dreamy. To get away from this he dreams even more vividly of being someone he is not. This helps him put up with his everyday life because he does not have to face it. Walter, it seems would rather drift away and dream of being the best shot in the west than facing up to what and who he really is and having to deal with that. However this is a vicious circle because the more he does this the more he becomes humiliated by his wife and the general public.
The poor relation on the other hand does not use his imagined life to escape. He is very well aware of his social standings and what people think of him. If we put his story into context we perhaps come to realize that it was simply a very clever piece of evening entertainment from the poor relation where he takes his wasted life and uses it for a good story. Perhaps this is because he is trying to make a point about the way in which he is treated and trying to explain why he lives the way he does or make a point about not taking things at face value. He is trying to change the people he is around so htat they will accept his ways more.The author may be trying to make his point by using the story of the poor relation as a parable to what he really feels inside. Using the same morals as the poor relation seems to be putting across about not taking things for face value.
However the poor relation is not an escapist and knows who he is. He is a man with a relatively poor way of life and a considerable lack of confidence ,who, has many regrets concerning the way he has led his life. He has used this to create a story for entertainment. This may ironically show the narrators lack of imagination because he has to tell his life story because you do not need imagination to do that. This inability to do this shows yet another thing the poor relation has failed at in his life
In the story of Walter Mitty being a naval pilot ,the three dittos or dots lead us into the next paragraph where in reality his wife is telling him not to drive to fast. The same sort of pattern occurs throughout the story.
In this story the author has a way of drifting between the worlds. It is never made clear when Walter is in his imagined or real life. This produces a trick in the story. To begin without the reader becomes very confused about what is going on. This drifting between worlds does not make any sense until later on when the readers common sense understands what is going on. Perhaps this is a metaphor for Walter mittys life. The way he just drifts in between realty and fantasy without even releasing the links between and the effect this is really happening on his life.
The poor relations story however is set out clearly and it is clear what is real and what is not. The author separates the characters real and imagined life by clear boundaries. The poor relation first explains his real life the proceeds to tell us the story of his imagined life. However the reader is tricked about what is really happening the entire way through the story because at the beginning the reader is told that the story that the poor relation is telling them is real but it is not until the end that we are told that the story was not in fact what had actually happened in his life.
The imagined life of the poor relations is not much different from reality. The poor relation tells us his life story changing the parts of it that he does not like so that it does not seem to his audience that he had such a wasted life. So the poor relation rather than escaping reality by imagining he is something else simply wishes away the painful parts of his life and imagines how he would do things if he had a second chance.
Walter Mitty is taken too much at face value. He is an escapist who cannot deal with the reality of his own life. He feels the need to get away from constantly being humiliated and bossed around by his wife and the public. It is sad that he has to go to these measures to get along in life. He should start doing something about improving his quality of life rather than just dreaming about how it could be better. However if this is the only way that Walter can get through life then it is up to him what he does about it.
The poor relation is different however. In the story, more than once we are told that he is his own worst enemy. The poor relations story, although not always his fault, In my opinion implies a weakness in the poor relation. Early on in his life he has some major setbacks and it seems that after a while he does not seem to try any more. Leaving him unsociable ,poor and lonely. The fact that he changes parts of his life in the story means that he dwells to much on the past and what could have been rather than securing a better future for himself.