Theme: Gender Roles and Marriage
The ‘Secrete Life of Walter Mitty’ is a luminous piece of literary work by James Thurber and the Story ‘I’m Going’ is written by Bernard Tristan. Gender roles and marriage is the common theme of both the stories. Authors have constructed their stories around family framework with lots of humor. Both stories have different characters, different places and different surroundings. common aspects, described by Authors in their story which is thinking process of male, female and marriage life. This paper discusses ‘secret life of Walter Mitty’, ‘I’m Going and further talks about several related aspects of the both literatures.
Gender roles and marriages hold a strong position in the literature. Various writers have presented their works based on gender, marriages and society. Literature work is one of the most powerful tools which help in building the image of male and female. Most of the work portray male as a strong person who holds the responsibility to run the house. Men are leader of the house who takes all the decisions; they are actively involved in outside work and much stronger than women. On the other hand women are fragile; they are responsible for doing all household works and silently accept all the decisions taken by their husband.
Both of the stories “Secrete Life of Walter Mitty” and “I’m Going” are focused on gender and marriages but these stories do not follow the same roles as presented in multiple literatures. “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a comedy where the wife is boss and husband is a daydreamer. Mrs. Mitty is aggressive, dominating, and arrogant women who run the house and make most of the decisions. On the other hand Mr. Mitty is simple man who accepts the order of his wife and live role of hero only in his dreams. “I’m Going” is also a comedy where wife is harassing her husband with her demands. The stories are clear reflection of changing society and depicts that world is changing. The wife also plays an important role in decision making. In the stories husbands do not take any step without the consent of their wives.
“Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber was published in year 1939. The story discusses the marriage life of Mr. Walter Mitty and Mrs. Mitty. Walter Mitty is an easy man who obeys his wife. He is a day dreamer who likes to remain in his world of fantasy. He sees the dream in which he perform as a hero who takes lots of daring decisions and save public around him. In real life the situation is just the way around. In the real world Mitty is just a suppressed person who does not have his own will. His life is dull with no fun and he work as per his wife’s directions.
During the story Mr. Mitty saw four dreams; in his first dream he was a commander, who is flying in cyclone to save the troop and troop are praising him for his daring efforts. In the second dream he was a surgeon who is going to perform surgery of a Millionaire banker. The other specialist doctors were not able to handle the case which he performed successfully. In third dream he was in courtroom as a witness giving his statement. In the last dream he saw himself as a pilot of the Air force. He volunteered for a suicide bomber during war to destroy the dump of missiles.
“I’m going” by Bernard Triston is a very illustrious play of past days. The story is knitted around the couple named Henry as husband and Jeanne as a wife. The story starts with a discussion between the couple on the rainy weather. Husband wanted to go for races without taking his wife along. The wife was nagging for the races and husband was making excuses. They start playing a game to decide whether they will go together or not. At the end they decide to spend their day separately. The story very beautifully depicts the argument that took place between husband and wife.
Both literatures are similar in a way that both are focused on husband and wife and both are based on marriage life. The contrast in literature is that “Secrete Life of Walter Mitty” is a story whereas “I’m Going” is a play. Content of the stories is completely different and major focus of the stories is also different. In one story wife is dominating whereas in other couple has shown a balanced approach.
Both of the stories are focused on theme Gender roles and Marriage. The stories are reflecting a part of marriage life.
Gender: The stories are true representation of changing time and society. Women are getting more respect and equal position as men as the society is becoming more educated and advanced. Mrs. Mitty and Jeanne both are strong women who are capable to take decisions at home. Husbands also respect their feelings and decisions for example Mr. Mitty hates taking his wife to the town but still he take her on demand; he also done shopping as per her order. Mrs. Mitty stands forward as a leader of the family who takes majority of the decisions and run the house. Jeanne also represented a strong role in the play as she asked her husband o take her along to the races and shown her unhappiness in the case he left her all alone in the home. Jeanne also raised a question to her husband that is he wants to lose further money in the game.
Marriage: marriage is union of two persons. Communication between the couples plays an important role in keeping them happy and connected. James Thurber in his story “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” shows a poor communication between the couple. Majority of the times its Mrs. Mitty who speak and her husband only utter few words. Whatever Mrs. Mitty asked her husband to do; he does without asking any question even he does not want to do so. The story shows a couple who s not very connected and husband most of the time involve in day dreaming. Whereas in other play “I’m Going” Bernard reflected a strong communication between the couple. Jeanne does not like her husband to go for races every weekend and lose money on the horses hence she raised a question on him. She asked him not to go for the races and save money for other meaningful purposes. The play shows a balanced married life where husband and wife both are connected and do not want to depress each other.
The characters presented in “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” are Mr. Walter Mitty and Mrs. Mitty. The characters of the story are having unique features; both of the characters are opposite to each other. Mrs. Mitty is very aggressive, dominating, and arrogant whereas Mr. Walter is surpressed, simple and day dreamer. He lives all his desires in dreams hence most of the time he started dreaming irrespective of location and time. Mrs Mitty is well organized and want her home very systematic; she even does not like car to cross the speed of 40. Mr. Walter is an unorganized person who keeps on forgetting things and do not get into argument with his wife.
Henry and Jeanne are the main characters of the play “I’m Going”. Both of the characters are having balanced approach towards life. They believe in systematic conversation and respect each other feelings. They keep fun going with little play. Henry spend time with various activity including going for races unlike Mr. Mitty who do not have time for any activity and whole day he keeps on daydreaming.
Both of the stories are reflection of Gender and marriages. The story “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” represents a poor husband who plays no role in managing the house and wastes his time in day dreaming. He never raised his voice or shown his disagreement on any issue in front of his wife. He was symbolized as a dull, craven, and quitter. On the other hand his wife is symbolizing a leader who takes all the decision and other family member follows her. She is a decision maker; a true reflection of women of present world.
In the other play “I’m Going” the story is reflection of happy married couple. The couple discusses all their demands, desires and feeling with each other. On any issue both argue and negotiate for a middle way. The play also reflects a healthy communication between husband and wife.
Both of the stories are based on one common plot that is roles of gender and marriage. The author in story “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” represents a character which was very rare at that time. The female and male characters are not as the society define role of male and female. It is also very difficult to get a person who keeps on day dreaming whole day. The story was written in 1939 and at that time the writer adopted a very advance approached. Play “I’m Going was also written during that time but adopted a balanced approached.
After having observed the abovementioned analysis of the two literary works by renowned authors, it is good to conclude that both the works successfully aware the readers about gender, husband wife relations in a marital life. Both the works are full of massage and make a good comedy for the readers. Authors have successfully depicted the various aspects of the male female relationship, gender issues and thinking of the society.
Barrett Harper, Clark and Tristan Bernard. (2009). I’m Going!: A Comedy in One Act. Charleston, South Carolina: BiblioBazaar.
Joe Manchester and James Thurber. (1968). The secret life of Walter Mitty: a musical based on the classic story by James Thurber. London: Samuel French.
Thurber, J. (n.d.). All Story. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from www.all-story.com: http://www.all-story.com/issues.cgi?action=show_story&story_id=100
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Thurber, J. (2008). The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Mankato, Minnesota: The Creative Company.
Tristan, B. (n.d.). Internet Archive. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from www.archive.org: http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924027316219/cu31924027316219_djvu.txt