Comparing the Lives of Walter Mitty and Rip Van Winkle

Topics: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Absent-mindedness, Dream Pages: 3 (864 words) Published: June 17, 2007
"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" written by James Thurber and the story of "Rip Van Winkle" written by Washington Irving are similar in many ways. Both characters use dreaming to escape what appear to be drab lives they live. The wife figures in both stories seem to be overbearing and constantly nag each man. Depending on what the reader takes away from each story, they can believe the nagging is justified in the actions of the man or the actions of the man are due to the nagging of the wives.

After reading both stories, the most prominent similarity of the two stories is two old men daydreaming about tales in which they play vivid parts. Each of the dreams seems very real to each character. In Rip's dream, he spends a colorful evening with odd looking men who live and bowl in the mountains. In Walter's dreams, he holds many positions such as a great surgeon and another where he is a commander on a military ship.

The wives of both characters are portrayed to bring on the daydreaming because of the constant nagging of their husbands. The absent minded Walter seems to require constant reminding of the tasks given to him. Because he lapses in and out of daydreams, his wife is constantly reminding him or bringing him back to reality. Examples of Walter's absent mindedness are dreaming of commanding a military ship while in reality he is driving a car, and needs to be reminded to slow down. Combinations of everyday events can cause Walter to drift into a daydream, while attempting to remember what he needed to pick up from the store along with hearing a newspaper boy shout headline sets him into another daydream where he is an excellent marksman who is a defendant in a trail.

Although Rip is portrayed as a lazy man more than an absent minded person, I believe Rip and his wife do not share the same priority which seems to be the root of the nitpicking and nagging of his wife. If he was truly lazy, he would not be thought of as a kind neighbor who...

References: Washington, I. (n.d.). Rip Van Winkle. : .
Thurber, J. (n.d.). The secret life of Walter Mitty. : .
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