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Comparing The Lives Of Walter Mitty And Rip Van Winkle

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"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 would assist others with their needs. Rip's priorities are more on a social scale, he would much rather spend time socializing with the townsmen than completing chores and providing for his family. The wife's priorities are the home and family needs. Her constant nagging about fixing the home and working on the farm and Rip's inability to no longer cope causes Rip to take off into the mountains one day. As it grew dark, Rip became exhausted; he didn't realize how far he traveled and how long it would take him to get back. The thought of facing his angry wife may have caused him to loose his mind. The story states that Rip's daughter tells him that her mother died just a short time ago, which leads me to believe the story of sleeping for twenty years became he way of explaining his disappearance and loss of reality. Rip was finally able to face reality once the terrors of the Dame were gone.

The burden the wives are carrying of keeping each



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