Narrative structure - Sample Essay
Charles Dickens starts his story with Michael at a family party in real life. Then Michael continues on telling the reader about his everyday routine, he only then goes on to tell us about his imaginary life. At the end he confesses this was in his dreams and we go back to the family party in real life, in a cyclical structure, rather like the narrator’s own life. James Thurber starts his story with Mitty in a daydream and ends with him in a daydream. He constantly changes from reality into the imagination through the story.
The reader can always tell the difference when Mitty is in reality or not by the way the reader is led into a dream with and ellipsis, and also the dreams are much more dramatic and exciting with words such as in L. 171, ‘scornfully’ and ‘snapped it away’. Also in the last daydream we can see how he goes into the dream with the ellipsis in L. 170 ‘smoking . . . He put his shoulders back’ In the Poor Relation’s he describes the dreams he has had by first telling the truth and then contradicting it in his dreams. Also, Michael tells the story whereas in Walter Mitty there is a narrator who tells the story.
In the Poor Relations, the reader is made to feel story for the sad, lonely life Michael has led. The family are certainly hated, especially his Uncle, for treating him so badly and taking advantage of his trustworthy nature. He shows his victim sympathetically painting an unpleasant picture of Uncle Chill. Therefore Dickens’s moral in this story is for people to not take advantage of others and to give people second chances in life.
In the Secret Life of Walter Mitty the author is trying to show the importance of a private world, away from the stresses of life, i. e. Mitty’s wife. He is trying to show how it is important that there is somewhere to go, but to be aware, that we must stay in contact with our everyday lives, so as not to get too engrossed into our own personal worlds. Both these stories are set in different times and were written in different times b different authors. Combined, though, these stories deal with the daydreamers and outcasts of society and serve as a warning to those do not socialise and teaches us that we must be tough in the world, perhaps using out imaginations as a safety-valve.
We sympathise with Michael as he has given up on his wasted life. He has been given an incompetent name by his family, which he has lived up to. ‘I am nobody’s enemy but my own’, L. 21 and 103. He seems to look untidy, have very few friends and have a boring, unsociable life. The fact that he did not need to have this is emphasised in the ways his dreams tell us he could have been so much better if certain things had not happened. Walter Mitty seems to be intelligent but he’s just not confident enough to speak to people.
We do not feel as much sympathy with him as with Michael because he still has a chance to enjoy his life and stand up to his wife, and we hope that he is on the verge of doing so. Walter Mitty and Michael both escape from reality by day dreaming because it makes life so much easier and enjoyable for them. They are both very successful at making a different life for themselves in their minds as they have been day-dreaming for a long time, they have managed to live their lives happily in their own worlds, although their lives in reality are suffering greatly because of it.