The Function of Fantasies in Walter Mitty Walter Mitty is an irresponsible, incapable, and a somewhat plain person. Consequently, his fantasies allow him to feel the opposite of reality: capable, reliable, and exciting. In one fantasy he is a world renowned doctor. In a second fantasy he is a commander on a ship. Another fantasy for Walter Mitty is when he sees himself as a criminal being tried for murder. Finally, one of his fantasies is when he is a captain getting ready to run into a battle.
In this first fantasy, Walter Mitty sees himself as a Commander in the Navy. On page 545, Commander Mitty is on an extremely large ship, in the middle of a terrible storm. “We’re going through! ”, which means the ship is going to be able to make it out of the storm. As Commander Mitty continues to give commands to his crew, and they all follow obediently, he is feeling strong and able. They have confidence in his leadership as they shout, “The Old man’ll get us through, the Old man ain’t afraid of Hell! ” They believe that Commander Mitty will get them through the storm, because he is not afraid of anything.
In his fantasy, he exhibits qualities of bravery and skilled leadership. He comes out of this fantasy as Mrs. Mitty is scolding him for driving too fast. His reality of being incompetent is opposite of his fantasy in which he is fearless and able. In the second fantasy, Walter Mitty is a famous surgeon who has written a popular book for doctors. In this fantasy, he is in the operating room while the other doctors are having a hard time working on a millionaire banker patient, who happens to be a friend of President Roosevelt.
First an intern shouts that a machine is breaking and, “There is no one in the East who knows how to fix it? ” Dr. Mitty springs to action and fixes the complicated machine with a pen, no less. In this fantasy, he is well-respected, calm, confident, and extremely skillful. As time goes on the doctor needs help, and asks, “If you would take over Mitty? ” As Mitty proudly takes over, his fantasy ends. He goes back to his reality of being embarrassed and absent-minded, as he is getting yelled at by the parking attendant who scolds him for driving through the exit.
As Walter Mitty walks down Main Street trying to remember what his wife told him to buy, he goes into his next fantasy. He is a hardened criminal testifying in a courtroom. He boldly makes statements of how he killed someone. As his lawyer defends him saying that Mitty’s right arm was in a sling, Walter yells out, “I could have killed Gregory Fitzhurst at three hundred feet with my left hand! ” In this fantasy, he is feeling confident and proud of his abilities, even if they are illegal.
He then punched the District Attorney in the chin, and then came out of his fantasy yelling, “Puppy biscuit,” remembering what his wife told him to buy. His fantasy of people being amazed by him is opposed to his reality of people laughing at him. In a final fantasy, it begins when he is waiting in a hotel lobby for his wife to be done with the hairdresser. He goes into the fantasy as he is looking at a magazine with pictures of the war with Germany. He was in a dugout in the middle of a battlefield with sounds of machine guns firing and planes overhead.
He is a Captain in the Army calmly telling his Sergeant that, “Someone’s got to get to that ammunition dump,” meaning that he is the one that will go out into the battle. His Sergeant can’t believe how brave Mitty is to go and says, “It is forty kilometers through hell, sir. ” Mitty finished off his brandy and says, “After all, what isn’t? ” Once again, he is exhibiting qualities of bravery, confidence, and being willing and able to do what others can’t do. He comes out of this fantasy as his wife hits him on the shoulder.
Walter Mitty regularly slips into these fantasies to escape the reality of his unhappy daily life. The constant nagging and complaining of his wife, as well as his dependence on her makes him feel incompetent and unimportant. In reality, Mitty is forgetful, dependent, insecure, and he is ridiculed by others for his behavior. In all Mitty’s fantasies he is intelligent, independent, confident, and he is admired by others. The function of fantasies in Walter Mitty’s life is to give him power, respect, and confidence which he does not get from his mundane everyday life.
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