Escape From Reality

Categories: DreamHumanLiterature

Why do the Poor Relation and Walter Mitty choose to escape from reality in the way they do? How successful are they? Michael, in the Poor Relation’s story, escapes from his reality and lives in life where he has no regrets and where everything has happened the way he wanted it to. Walter Mitty on the other hand escapes into a reality where he is not a shy, incompetent man, but a hero in many aspects of life. In this world of his he is respected and brave.

Michael seems to be an escapist because it is a better life and he can forget about his poverty; Walter does it to seem a better man in his own eyes and to get away from his bossy, inconsiderate wife. Michael lives in the 19th century where poverty is rife in England and does not have a job, L. 38 ‘on pretence of going to business, L. 44 ‘I get through the day’. We learn he is ‘unbusiness-like’.

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We can see how he is poor as he names prices showing he worries over having too little money, For example on L. 45 ‘of one and threepence’.

On the other hand Walter Mitty lives in the 1940’s where he has a home and car and does not feel poverty and does not starve. He has a home and wife and a puppy. Buying things is not such a problem, L. 91 ‘weekly trips to town’. He seems to live the life of the post-war USA ‘The American Dream’ of prosperity and ownership.

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This shows us that men of their type can exist regardless of time and place. Michael does not have many friends, and this is mentioned many times, L. 56 ‘I am avoided’, l 60 ‘I am not an attractive companion’.

He tells us that he is odd and ‘failed to find a place’ and was ‘superfluous’ in L. 106 and 107. He has one friend in the world, Little Frank, his nephew who is still a child. They are very similar in the way that they are forgotten in a crowd, L. 64. In L. 76 it shows that Frank will probably grow up in the same way Michael has and have a ‘peculiar position in the family’. With Walter Mitty the author never mentions that he does not have any friends but he seems to be very shy when talking to other people. For example when he is talking to the parking lot attendant he uses monosyllabic words showing that he does not talk to people regularly and seems ill at ease when forced to communicate.

Michael was very un-business like and trustworthy in his early youth and made many mistakes; for this reason he is living in a life of pretence where he has not made the mistakes and everything has worked out for the best. Mitty does not tell us much about his past although we can see that his wife is very domineering over him and does not let him do anything for himself. For example when he is trying to remember what she has told him to buy on L. 90 it says ‘she had told him twice’, and then later in L. 160 she asks him ‘Did you get the puppy biscuits?

‘ We gain an impression that she is continually checking up on him, allowing him no chance to act independently. Michael seems more aware that he does live in a different life as he can describe his regular routine to his family. Mitty seems to be slipping into daydreams all the time, but they are never the same and he just feels that he is ‘thinking’, line 161. His daydreams provide variety, whereas Michael’s provide the stability of routine. Michael would probably not want to change his life, as he seems quite content.

It would be very hard for him to change his life now, as he says in his letter to Little Frank in line 108 ‘I failed to find my place in this great assembly’. He has not found his goal in life and he says ‘I am better off out of it’, L. 109. It would be very hard for Michael to change as he lives in poverty in a nineteenth century where progress is slow to come. In the last paragraph of the story a member of the family asks him about the castle in a ‘grave, kind voice’. This shows that the family is listening to him and maybe what he said actually touched them and they will be kinder to him in the future.

Perhaps it is too late to change towards him, but his sacrifice will be rewarded in the future. Walter Mitty has other options in twentieth century USA, and perhaps with his final words to his wife, ‘Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking’ L. 162, he might be changing to a new future. Michael describes four dreams he has. The first two were with Christiana and John Spatter showing how they struck by him and did not abandon him. With Christiana it is very romantic and she devotes herself to him in L.

218 ‘My dear Michael, I have given you my heart and I have pledged to be your wife. ‘ With John he says ‘Now, my good friend, let there, under these friendly circumstances, be a right understanding between us. ‘ In these two dreams he amends the pasts so he can go on living in his head without the feeling of regret. The other two daydreams are about his life and his average daydreams about his grandchildren and going to the theatre. These are not described in detail and are only to give a brief outline of his thoughts and the way he has coped in his years of poverty.

His dreams are pieces of misty idealism, romantic worlds. Walter Mitty’s daydreams are very detailed and are often triggered by something. For example his second dream was triggered when his wife tells him to go and see Dr Renshaw. From this he starts to dream where Dr Renshaw is a world class surgeon in L. 66 ‘Renshaw said nervously ‘If you would take over Mitty” and Mitty saves the day in lines 39 – 69. Mitty has many dreams throughout the day, all about different things but all in which he is a key character and the hero.

During the story he has five dreams where he is a Commander of a Navy hydroplane, a world class surgeon, a firearms expert, a Captain and a brave prisoner about to be shot. He uses the correct jargon even if he does not know what the real words are he makes up ones that are similar and they fit in well. He uses his own idiolect in his daydreams such as sounds like ‘pocketa’, which is in a lot of the dreams. He has very detailed thinking and thinks like a novelist in the way he imagines things. He is an ‘omniscient narrator’ in the way he knows everything, e. g. in the first daydream he knows what the crew says.

He seems to get his knowledge from films and maybe from books. The main genre is crime and action. Michael’s dreams seem to be although less detailed, more realistic as we can imagine this happening, him sitting down watching his grandchildren playing. Compared with Mitty who is a hero in nearly every aspect of his life this makes it less realistic, as we can’t imagine him being all these different people. Mitty’s dreams are more vivid as they are much more detailed with all the jargon and argot that he uses, and we ‘see’ them almost as excerpts from popular action films.

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Escape From Reality. (2017, Sep 23). Retrieved from

Escape From Reality

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