”In the National Gallery”
”In the National Gallery” is a short story by Doris Lessing. Some people have already tried déjà vu, by looking at a picture or recognizable person, and it is also the case in this text. The story is also about the relationship between the younger and the older generation, and it shows which sort of respect and thoughts we have about each other.
The unknown narrator sits on a bench in a museum, looking at a painting of a chestnut horse by George Stubbs. Suddenly an elderly man who “… was about sixty years old, well dressed, a well-presented man absorbed in his contemplation” sits down beside the narrator, and after a while a second man who “… was ...view middle of the document...
Just like that. She slept”. It is disrespect because she knows that the men are interested in the picture, but she still seems like it is a boring painting and she would rather take a nap, than uses her time on unimportant things. The relationship between the younger and the older generation is weak because of the missing respect. They only respect each other to a certain extent.
During the French girl’s sleep, the elderly man looks at her, and he suddenly remembered “She’s like a girl I was in love with once. But I was just a boy”. He compares his relationship with a movie they saw together, and it seems like he refreshes his feelings for this former flirt. The schoolgirl reminds him of his earlier girlfriend so much, that he stares at her all the time: “A quick glance showed how he cautiously turned his head to look at the sleeping beauty, so near to him. […]”. It becomes more clearly when the narrator asks into the past, and further through the conversation the aged man expresses: “But she just walked in - walked in from the past. And I feel - well, let me choose my words, I don’t want to exaggerate - yes, I would say there is a knife in my heart…” He reminds which sorrow the refusal from the girl had caused. His broken heart can be compared with text 2 ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jay Gatsby tries to win back his old love, and the narrator ventures: “You can’t repeat the past”. Gatsby wants to repeat the past, just like the old man longs for his previous love, but they cannot get their girlfriends or their romance back. They are trapped in the past and blinded by love, but luckily the narrators try to help them. Both Jay Gatsby and the old man have a broken heart, and both want their former flirts back.
This old love can also be one of the reasons why the old man gets upset when the girls laugh at the painting. A horse symbolizes power and quickness, which the old man can identify himself with. When the girls laugh, they offend his pride and it hurts to see his love laugh. That is why the man “stood up in front the horse, as if defending it”, just like in picture 1 where the horse stands on its hind legs and wriggles with its forelegs. It looks like the horse kicks to keep enemies away, just like the man stands in front of the painting to keep the girls away.
In the end, right after the episode with the...