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Why do the Poor Relation and Walter Mitty choose to escape from reality in the way they do? How successful are they?

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Why do the Poor Relation and Walter Mitty choose to escape from reality in the way they do? How successful are they? Michael and Walter are two characters who are very similar in some ways, but also very different in others. They could both be described as escapists yet the content of their dreams, and how they come to have such dreams is different. Michael lives in lodging in the Clapham Road- 'a very clean backroom, in a very respectable house'. He has no job. He receives an allowance from his family firm. He has no savings, and only one friend. Little Frank is a character very like Michael, and even Michael comments on this- 'he is a diffident boy by nature' and 'he will in time succeed to my particular position in the family'. He has very little money, on his birthday he could afford only to buy a cheap cut of beef, and to go at half price to the theatre- 'and enjoyed it thoroughly' He also mentions that 'he won't leave much more in this world than he takes out of it'- he means this both as he will leave no inheritance, and he will not be missed by anyone. As for his daily routine, it is very repetitive. In the text he refers to the fact that he is always very conscientious about what money he spends. He keeps a regular account of what he spends, by quoting prices, and also refers to the fire as 'being expensive'. ...read more.


As for the way that Michael escapes from reality it is simple, to getaway from the dull, hard life that he leads. When life becomes hard, or something bad happens to him, he simply dreams that his life is going well. His dream life is quite vivid, building up into a big happy picture for him to escape to, depicting the standard Victorian icon of home, wife and child encounters. Walter however has his dreams triggered off by things that he encounters during life. For example when he stands smoking against a wall in the rain, he suddenly transports himself into a situation where he is facing the firing squad, and taking one last drag of his cigarette. One feature of the dreams are that Walter always idealises himself as the hero. Also when a newsboy shouts out about the Waterbury trial, he transports himself into a court room. As opposed to Michael's dreams, Walter's are very detailed, unlike his real life. In his first dream he goes into great detail about all the different parts of the ships and guns, even though he makes some words up. In real life he is very vivid. An example is when he was asked about what dog biscuits he wants to buy, he replies vividly 'it says puppies bark for it', he doesn't even know what it's name is. Michael has had a very tough life. He has encountered huge problems and rejection. As a result of this he is now poor and lonely. ...read more.


was not happy. The reason for Michael's misery was a character problem, and he was unlucky to be in his situation. Dickens is telling us that if we are soft, then people will walk all over us, and also that if other people, as in Michael's case, write you off, then you may tend to suffer as a consequence. With Walter, it is clear that he is a very intelligent person (by his dreams) but yet in real life he is dominated, and can't stand up for himself. What Thurby is trying to tell us is not to judge someone by what they look like, and even to a certain extent, the way that they act. he is trying to tell us that even if we know someone very well, we still don't know how they feel, and what they are thinking. Walter's final comments to his wife show his willingness and ability to change. Michael is a true escapist. He cannot handle life, and all of it's let downs, so he creates his own world where everything is perfect. This is not a crime, but the reader tends to feel sorry for Michael. He is a very unlucky character in his personality. He was never meant to succeed in life, and he is trying to give himself some pleasure with his fantasies. Walter though is someone who is less dependant on his made up life. He has all of the services at hand to make his life better, but he does not use them. He too has a personality defect, but the reader feels less sorry for him, because he is not in such a difficult situation. ...read more.

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