’s Case, The Rocling Horse Winner And The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty Essay, Research Paper
In the short stories, “Paul’s Case,” “The Rocking-Horse Winner,” “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and “Mr. Reginald Peacocks Day,” the main character has their own form of illusion. These characters try to escape from everyday reality by living in their own fantasy. Throughout these four stories it is proven that to make their fantasies a reality they will put their lives at risk. These illusions were dangerous in a sense that the characters were not only physically and mentally destructive, but they were also a threat to their own lives. Even though each character is consumed by illusion, Paul from “The Rocking-Horse Winner” was the most dangerous. He was the one that brought on the most danger to himself and as a result, he suffered the most, mentally and physically.
The least dangerous case of escaping reality is found in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. His illusions are simply daydreams. It does not take a great deal to bring him back to reality, ““You’re driving too fast,” said Mrs. Mitty” … “he looked at his wife…with shocked astonishment”. All it took was his wife yelling at him to bring him back. Walter uses his fantasies to escape from his nagging wife. This makes Walter feels weak and gives him low self-esteem. Walter’s fantasies are harmless and allow him to experience new personas. In some incidences he becomes “Captain Mitty” and in another “Dr. Mitty”. At the most part Walter may suffer from a broken bone or get bruised, but nothing life threatening.
The next case is not as dangerous as “Paul’s Case” or “The Rocking-Horse Winner” but it leaves the main character unable to distinguish illusion from reality. Mr. Reginald Peacock is unable to live a life of reality. He sees himself as being flawless and misinterprets other people’s actions. This also leads to him exaggerating the events that occur around him, “when they stood in front of the mirror…he could actually feel a warm glowing spot…she loved her lessons”. From this incident he becomes convinced that Betty loves her music lessons. In his mind he changes around reality so it fits with his illusion of things. When his other student, Miss Marion Morrow says, “Oh if it were not for my lessons I don’t feel I could go on”, it contributes to his fantasy by making him feel that he is accountable for her being able to go on. When Reginald is not living in his fantasy world it is almost as if his brain is dead. For instance, only when he is in his fantasy, Mr. Peacock declares to his lady friends, “Dear lady, I should only be too charmed!”. However, when he tries to deal with reality at the end, all he can say to his wife is, “Dear lady, I should only be so charmed – so charmed!”. This proves that he cannot think of anything else to say when he is not in his fantasy world.
Although Paul from “The Rocking-Horse Winner” has the most dangerous illusion, Paul from “Paul’s Case” is not far behind. Throughout “Paul’s Case”, Paul is constantly reminded of what his reality is. He frequently compares his fantasy world with his real world. Paul attempts to escape reality because he does not think he should live the life he is currently living. He wants to live the “upper class” life but he does not want to work to get it, “he was interested in the triumphs of cash boys who had become famous, though he had no mind for the cash-boy stage”. At one point Paul was so involved in his illusion that he does not even realize that he is standing outside in the pouring rain. Yet at times he tries to convince himself that he belongs in his fantasy world. For example, Paul tells himself that he belongs when he is coming down to eat his diner at the hotel. Unlike Mr. Peacock, Paul can tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Unfortunately, Paul kills himself at the end realizing that his dream world was not all that he thought it would be.
The most dangerous case of all four short stories is found in “The Rocking-Horse Winner”. A young boy named Paul attempts to win his mothers love by becoming lucky and winning money. Paul would escape reality by riding his rocking horse and by riding it, the winners of the horse race derby would come through to him. He hated having to ride his rocking horse, he only did it to get his mother’s love by getting money. Also, Paul’s reason for escaping reality is the most sincere but also the most dangerous because he has so much to lose. Paul was desperate for his mothers love. Paul had no control over himself when he rode the horse, “his frenzied riding of the rocking horse” eventually made him almost un-human. During Paul’s final ride, he “fell with a crash to the ground” and became unconscious. Paul never regained consciousness and ended up dying in the night. His death was a direct result of his illusion, proving this case to be very dangerous.
In the end, all the forms of illusion are dangerous to a certain degree. Walter Mitty, the least dangerous, would use his fantasy world when he was bored with reality. Mr. Peacock lived in his dream world so much that he was not able to tell which was reality and which was an illusion at times. It is clearly shown that the “real” Reginald Peacock was dead. Paul from “Paul’s Case” took his own life away after making his dream a reality. But, a split second before the train hits him, he realizes that he is making a mistake. Finally, the worst case of them all is Paul from “The Rocking-Horse Winner” whom we feel sympathy for because he died without with out ever getting what he wanted, his mothers love. Paul’s nurse told him not to break his horse, only in the end, the horse broke him.
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