ENG 125 Introduction to Literature
Rebecca Morrin, MA
June 8, 2014
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
Evaluating and analyzing a literary work is often thought to be the same practice with the same outcome. However, evaluating a work and analyzing a work is very different. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, tells the story of the aging Walter Mitty on a trip into town with his overbearing wife. This paper will both analyze and then evaluate this short story using the Formalist Approach, revealing my perception on the work. "This approach is most widely used in literary criticism; it focuses on the form and development of the literary work itself." (Clugston, 2010) Some such techniques that are descried using this approach include: setting, characters, plot, figurative language, and the point of view that was used.
In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, James Thurber sends Walter Mitty from his boring and normal life to daydreams where he is on the top of life itself. Walter Mitty goes into daydreams throughout and is almost always rudely awakened from his contemplations. His short attention span often gets him in trouble with his wife or from other various people who ridicule him. Walter Mitty an ordinary man, with his overbearing, nagging wife Mrs. Mitty. Throughout this short story Mitty is characterized as being a pathetic, timid man, who daydreams to deal with situations, and conflicts that arise in his life with his wife and others he encounters on a daily basis. The genre of this short story would be comedy, Thurber’s writing style is quiet creative and imaginative, with themes of adventure, escapism. Symbols and images are the car, Mitty is unable to correctly park, the overshoes that he insists he doesn’t need, the gloves, and the tire chains he can’t correctly remove from the vehicle (Clugston, 2010). His dreams turn these simple events into wild fantasies such as being a surgeon, bomber pilot and a captain of a sea vessel. While Walter goes through a day of ordinary tasks and errands, he escapes into a series of romantic fantasies, each spurred on by some mundane reality. As he drives his car, he imagines he is commanding "a Navy hydroplane" through a terrible storm. When he rides past a hospital, he imagines he is a world-famous surgeon saving a VIP's life. When he hears a newsboy shouting about a trial, he imagines he is a crack shot being interrogated in the courtroom. As he waits for his wife to finish at the hairdresser's, Walter sees pictures of German plane and imagines he is a British pilot willing to sacrifice his life for his country. Lastly, as Walter waits outside…