The Theme Of Control Over One’s Life In The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Those who have little control over their lives are the ones who crave control the most. In “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,'' author James Thuber puts the reader inside of the protagonist's head to see the double life which Mitty lives. Mitty has quite a vivid imagination which creates a fake fantasy life filled with adventure, control, and risk. On the contrary, Mitty’s real life is dull; he lives constantly being pushed around by others and being in a shadow. Walter Mitty lacks control over his own life, his fantasy life which he created in his mind may be unrealistic. However, all of the events have something in common, they all put him into a position of control. 

In Walter Mitty’s life that he lives outside of his head, he lives averagely, completing errands and daily tasks. The protagonist seems to be going through his life on autopilot, coasting along giving little thought to his life. The life that he lives behind his eyes consumes him to the point that he is so preoccupied with his imagination that he loses touch with reality. The best connection towards Walter’s Fantasy life and his real life is the first event. This is where Mitty is flying through a hurricane and he is the pilot, very much in control: the story then jumps back out of his head and into the real world, this is where he is driving as if he is on autopilot not paying attention and getting ridiculed by his wife for speeding. In the fantasy life, Thurber consistently puts the protagonist in a position or role where he is in control. This shows that what Mitty is lacking, and what he craves in his real life is none other than control. People generally like to have a sense of control over their own lives. Knowing that their decisions pave the way for the kind of life they will be living. To know that you are driving the bus that is your life brings peace of mind, those who do not have that control are living in a way that they do not wish too. Walter Mitty lost the control he had in his life. While he was so emerged into his fantasy life the outside world still kept moving around him and he lost touch with reality. James Thuber weaves the idea in and out of the story that if you are too preoccupied with your own mind you will lose touch with reality. Mitty craved control in his real life so bad that that craving fueled all of the scenarios he made up in his head whilst daydreaming.

 “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” is a cautionary tale. The author subtly warns the reader about a path they could fall into. Being too caught up with one’s own thoughts and feelings can eventually draw them away from reality, causing one to miss out on the real adventure, which is life. The tale tells of an average man lost in his imagination, also lost in the world. Imagination can be a wonderful thing, taking people to new places in the comfort of their own brain which can be dangerous. Those who lack control in their own lives are the ones who crave it the most. Walter Mitty is an adventurous and creative man. However, he was stuck in the comfort of his imagination to the point where to any bystander he would seem no more than an average man.  

16 August 2021
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