Risk-taking in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 912 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Words: 912|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Consider how risk-taking has been reflected and developed in “A Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Discuss the ideas developed by Ben Stiller about how risk-taking leads to character development and changes Walter’s outlook on life.

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Humanity would undoubtedly stagnate if individuals withered away in daily routines without a sense of ambition. Through the comedic film work of Ben Stiller, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was brought to life. By setting out after Sean’s missing photo for Life Magazine, Walter uncovers a facet of himself previously hidden, by throwing away his normalcy and entering a world of both uncertainty and self-discovery. Ben Stiller’s ultimate message in the film is that the highest potential of a person can be sought out through sacrificing his or her usuality and risking life to its true superiority.

In the initial stages, Stiller shapes Walter in a plain and awkward fashion to relate to his modern audience. He demonstrates that although Walter maintains a stable job working for a desirable magazine, he is still dissatisfied with himself as he constantly craves his alternate world in daydreams. Stiller causes viewers to subconsciously recognize striking similarities of their way of living to Walter’s, therefore questioning both him and themselves. Stiller expresses to many in society who are unconsciously trapped in a loop to explore fresh pursuits rather than mentally dream. When Walter first contacts eHarmony, Stiller reveals to the audience through Todd that Walter does not have any outstanding or worthy accomplishments in life. By morphing these unideal characteristics into Walter, Stiller foreshadows a significant contrast and transformation in Walter’s character. He would later allow Walter to boldly step out of his robot-like past (following actions rather than feeling them) on a crucial mission and genuinely make progress in his life. Stiller initially presents Walter in this manner as an ideological reminder to society to embrace ambitions and escape from the permanent circulation of daily affairs.

Stiller drives Walter forward and reinforces the idea that life is brittle and precious throughout the extraordinary challenges in Greenland and Iceland by leading him to fulfill Sean’s request. Stiller’s artistic choices such as the various landscapes of nature and vibrant colours effectively hook his viewers and inspire them to experience these exquisite aspects of life as well. For example, he showcased a massive volcanic eruption in Iceland, which Walter survives, in order to enhance the thrill and curiosity to viewers. Stiller emphasizes that appreciation of life would never be achieved in limited and routinely surroundings. Additionally, Stiller sends Walter into deathly physical and mental obstacles throughout the mission to strengthen the reminder of how much life is taken for granted and could be wiped away any instant. Stiller put Walter at risk for Sean by sending him springing onto a plane with a drunkard, following by plummeting off into the treacherous ocean, triggering a shark attack. Stiller incorporates these battles to refresh Walter of the temporary nature of life and reveal how Walter let his work introduce his path, thus enabling him to experience different dimensions of life while reviving his self actualization through these strenuous tasks without regret.

Stiller delivers an inspirational message by illustrating the success and confidence Walter obtains with his risks. For example, Walter becomes more comfortable with Cheryl, as well as becomes proud and confident when he finally produces number twenty-five and finds himself featured on the cover. Stiller enforces the idea that many people in society are too uncomfortable to attempt dangerous things and therefore pursues the easily attainable, which only results in mediocrity. He expresses that humans desire more than mundanity, and in order to achieve that, they must change their stationary state to engage in new actions and greater conflicts to better experience life outside their usual encounters. As Walter matures, Stiller strategically reduces the amount of daydreams Walter has, as Walter no longer needs to envelop himself in imagination when his dreams finally reflect reality. Ultimately, Stiller implies that in order to build up self esteem, people must push their limits and go beyond the norm as Walter did, by figuring out Sean’s greatest message: the purpose of life is to feel and explore, regardless of what mental dangers or fears may interfere. Exploration of fresh knowledge and experiences are crucial to lead to a person’s fullest potential and happiness.

At the conclusion, Walter discovers his meaning of life and obtains confidence to defend himself, even when Hendricks ridicules and fires him. Stiller presents Walter’s attitude towards Hendricks as concise and professional, while straightforward. He contrasts this with the past, where Walter allowed himself to be trampled on to keep his job. Stiller shows how Walter realizes he should not waste his time on those who do not matter and instead, care more deeply about loved ones. Stiller believes Walter has boundless opportunities to appreciate life and no time to waste on the irrelevant. Rather than aggression or submission, Walter chooses the alternative: to complete his mission (produce twenty-five) and move on to greater goals that await him. Stiller expresses the benefits of Walter stepping out to discover priorities and blossoming relationships.

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Stepping out to explore possibilities may appear daunting, but the end result is the enlightenment of opportunities, self actualization and confidence. Stiller’s primary message is that talent and satisfaction will be inevitably masked unless people choose to take risks and open their minds. Stiller illustrates the transformation of a plain man to a well-rounded hero, while simultaneously motivating his audience to do the same.

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Risk-taking in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. (2018, October 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Risk-taking in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.” GradesFixer, 18 Oct. 2018,
Risk-taking in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Risk-taking in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 18 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from:
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