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Analysis of Doris Lessing's Short Story "in the National Gallery"

Essay by   •  November 24, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,020 Words (5 Pages)  •  6,493 Views

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The story is about our protagonist who is going to a gallery, to look at a picture, as it is said in the text at page 1, line 1-4, he's intensions is to use his free hour, looking at one picture instead of going from one to another, but his intensions wont hold as his attention is being drawn away from some of the other guests at the gallery, we are told about his reflections, thoughts, and conversation concerning with the other guests that are described throughout the text. I will now analyse the setting, characters, point of view, and theme(s) of the story.

The story takes place in a museum or art gallery, we can see that at the very beginning where our protagonist describes his intensions and thoughts; "Instead of going from picture to picture" (page 1, line 1-2), also we the title "In the National Gallery" says all we need to know about the location. The setting is throughout the text being the described a bit more detailed; "There were not many people that afternoon" (page 1, line 6) So we know the time of day and we get an impression of the gallery, as a quietly environment. Until a group of schoolgirls makes their entrance and disturbs the tranquillity as our protagonist describes it; "The room was suddenly noisy and animated. Its tranquillity had been banished by the individuality... a group conscious of being one, and they stood together just inside the big doors near Constable's picture of Salisbury Cathedral." (Page 1, line 31-35).

The characters involved in the text can be structured on a plot line, the first introduction we get is to our protagonist, who also acts as our narrator in this story; "My intension was simple. I had a free hour." (Page1, line 1) I will elaborate on this later in the analysis, as I will go through the plot structure, which will tell us more about the characters we encounter. We are also told about a man observing the same picture as the protagonist, he is being referred to as "the first man" and described as following; "He was about sixty years old, well dressed, a well-presented man absorbed in his contemplation." (Page 1, line 9-10) following comes another man referred to as "the second man" their names are unknown to us, but their "nicknames" also indicates that they interfere with each other. The second man is described as a younger version of the first man, perhaps a brother or son, (Page 11-16) the phrase also explains how the first man shares his knowledge with the second one, and how our protagonist and the other guests attentions are drawn towards his knowledge, and how the second one makes himself a remark that he regrets and then takes off towards the nearest exit. (Page 1, line 18-26) The next characters are a group of French schoolgirls, they are being mention as if they were trying to be one individual, but one of the girls draws more attention than the others; "The



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