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Straying from Reality

Uploaded by KyraDean on Oct 29, 2002

Imagine the worst things that could ever happen to you have become a reality. There’s no way out of it, there’s no way around it, and you can’t handle it. You mentally begin to deteriorate, and in the festering process, you develop an illusion world. In essence, you’re lying to yourself, so extensively that you completely not only believe, but also live, your lies as the truth. This scenario sounds unreal, but is as much of a reality as it gets for many characters we find in American literature. This is not abnormal because all human beings inclined to escape from reality any way they can through self-delusion. In the early to mid-twentieth century, as readers, we begin to encounter literary figures that deny their realities and in the process, face severe consequences that alter all of their lives.

First we come across Dorothy Parker’s unnamed female character in “The Waltz”. From the first few lines, “I don’t want to dance with him. I don’t want to dance with anybody. And even if I did, it wouldn’t be him,” (1462) to the close “I didn’t know what trouble was, before I got drawn into this danse macabre,” (1465) the woman’s thoughts of how she hates dancing eat away at her throughout the song. She analyzes every little nitpicky detail, contribution to her own irrationality and possibly even craziness. In reality, dancing with someone is not usually a big deal. It is typically a mindless action that people generally enjoy. However, Parker’s character overanalyzes the situation to the point that she contemplates killing her dancing partner (1463).

Next James Thurber’s character “Walter Mitty” is presented to us in the story of the title character. Mitty is your typical husband like in every sitcom—shrinking, oblivious and without a clue as to what is going on. Only difference is Mitty is unhappy with his current lifestyle and escapes into the memory of his days in the service. Thinking he is in his old Navy craft, he speeds down the highway at 55 mph until his wife cries out at his, then ridiculous, speed (1474). Mitty’s nagging wife and stressful life as a physician cause him to escape to this world that only still exsists in the halls of Mitty’s mind.

The next two characters we look at are perhaps the most severe in supporting our thesis. Willy Loman from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” is...

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Uploaded by:   KyraDean

Date:   10/29/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (753 words)

Views:   1389

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