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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber

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How does Mrs. Mitty view her husband?

Quick answer:

Mrs. Mitty views her husband without regard for his thoughts or feelings, and she does not consider what he might want in any given situation. She tells him what to do, where to go, and when, and she scolds him when he does not perfectly adhere to her directions or even anticipate precisely what she would wish. In short, she treats him and seems to view him as a child.

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Mrs. Mitty seems to view her husband as a somewhat childlike, doddering kind of person. She issues directions to him and bosses him around, speaking to him, not as an equal but as a person to whom she feels superior in intellect and ability. The reader’s introduction to her is when her voice snaps Walter from his first daydream of the story, when she scolds him for driving too fast—he’s going fifty-five when he knows she doesn’t like to travel at speeds higher than forty—and then she says to him, rather condescendingly, “I wish you’d let Dr. Renshaw look you over.” She implies that he is unwell simply because he wishes to escape his mundane and unfulfilling life, never considering that it is, perhaps, her dismissive treatment of her husband that drives him to daydream so frequently.

Later, Mrs. Mitty tells Walter to get a pair of overshoes, despite his insistence that he does not need them. She insults him a little bit, telling him that he isn’t a “young man any longer.” She directs him to put on his gloves, though he does not wish to do so. He must run her errands, picking up a box of dog biscuits, knowing that she will berate him for forgetting if he neglects to do it. Mrs. Mitty, nonetheless, seems to think he can do nothing right. In the final scene, she scolds him for not putting on his new overshoes while in the store, and she scolds him for “hid[ing] in this old chair” rather than waiting for her out in the open where she could see him more easily. He feels that it never “occur[s] to [her] that [he is] sometimes thinking.” She never seems to consider his feelings or his thoughts at all.

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