A cooling summer breeze is washing away the heat from the sun that is pouring over the deck of the beach house. There is a party this evening in just a few hours, but the humidity of mid-afternoon in late June and bustling of getting ready has caused a need for a moments rest. This girl is dressed for a night out but has not put on her undergarments, maybe to wait until the last minute or maybe because she is hoping to skip the event all together. A soft music flows out of the house with the breeze and mingles with the dreams that accompany the closing of her eyes. She rests comfortably with the folds of her dress becoming a thin blanket around her otherwise nude body. In the distance, waves lap against the shore and trees make a music of their own. Summers here are relaxed and seamlessly move between day and night. There is no need to rush and no desire to leave such a calm home. The girl’s beau is dressing inside, singing along with the music from the stereo. She sleeps peacefully knowing that even if it is just for a few moments, she will be woken by her smiling man. She feels her body molding with the chair covering and the chair itself and then with the earth around her, she floats in and out of dreams about the party and the day’s activities and then about a different place. She is floating amid clouds that are plump with rain yet warm and soothing to the touch. The sun is hidden below the clouds and she has no need to open her eyes. She enjoys the dream like a child who plays in a world of imagination.
Analysis: According to Bakhtin, every interaction is a dialogue and every utterance is a response to an “other”. Although the girl is sleeping, there are several dialogues going on in this scene. The girl and nature are interacting while at the same time there is someone in the background who also is taking a part in dialogue, even if at this moment it is a silent one. Two worlds are colliding in the scene, the dream world and the natural world of reality. Time stands still for just a moment while the girl rests. Shklovsky’s idea of defamiliarization can be seen in this painting as well as the narrative. The girl is dressed and ready to go out yet she has on no undergarments. She is resting despite the hustling and bustling that is moving around her. The shift from real time and the natural world into the dream world carries the reader from the scene to where the girl is. In a shift from Formalist criticism to Enlightenment criticism, this scene can be viewed through Hegel’s eyes in which romantic ideals are viewed. The girl is real as is her content sleeping state. There is no pretense or reference to the Gods, there is no symbolism; it is just one beautiful girl at rest.
Bakhtin, Mikhail. "Discourse in the Novel." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Second Edition. 1076-1106.
Cain, Finke, Johnson, Leitch, McGowan, Sharpley-Witing, Williams, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Second Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.
Leighton, Lord Frederic. 1895. Oil/Canvas.