Mr van Gogh by Owen Marshall is a story about a man Frank Reprieve Wilcox although he was known by everyone as Mr van Gogh, he is obsessed with the artist, but the towns people do not approve of his passion, throughout the story we see society reject him because his strong interest in the artist. In this text Owen Marshal uses symbolism to represent the ideas of judgement, prejudice and alienation that Mr van Gogh experiences from society.
Mr Van Gogh lives in a wooden bungalow beside a bridge, this house is the first use of symbolism in this text, ‘The original colours of the house had given up their differences and weathered stoically into an integration of rust and exposed wood.’ Mr van Gogh’s personality and passion, like his house, slowly lost its ‘colour’. The constant turmoil he experienced from society caused him to express less and less of his passion ‘Only those who wanted to mock him encouraged him to talk.’ His exterior personality had faced the ‘storm’ and was now showing the wear and tear. But his passion and ‘heart’ still remained.
While the exterior of the house is judge and disliked, much like Mr van Gogh, the artwork they discover inside his house represents the beauty Mr van Gogh was passionate about, and his inner talent. All the while society judged and alienated him Mr van Gogh’s heart remained passionate. He continued to pursue his passion even though society disapproved of it, and when the work was finally discovered ‘People came from all over the town to see Mr van Gogh’s house.’ The situation was a perfect example of the saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Although society had never showed any interest in Mr van Gogh they all wanted to see his amazing work when it was found out. But like Vincent van Gogh himself, his work was appreciated too late. ‘He said it was his ticker, his ticker was about to give up on him.’ The imagery of his literal heart ‘giving up’ can also be related to himself eventually giving up on his passion, his spirit and passion towards the art had ended and therefore so did he.
A large idea of prejudice is that it is believed there is no place for someone in society. For example, it is thought there is no place for Mexicans in America, or in the war Hitler believed there was no place for Jewish people in a Nazi Germany. Prejudice is based around certain society’s opinions on people not belonging somewhere. This idea is also present in Mr van Gogh’s situation. Mr Souness and the Council believed there was no place for him in the community and that he must make way for the Bridge “The old bugger is holding up the democratic wishes of the town.” Owen Marshall uses symbolism again in this situation where the proposed bridge is linked to society and its constant need to develop on expand, and does not necessarily have the catering ability for everyone. The bridge will continue on against Mr van Gogh’s wishes and destroy the house’s beauty along with Mr van Gogh’s passion and spirit. Individuals can often be left out in society, this is seen with Mr van Gogh’s house needing to be knocked down, for him to move out of the way so society could move forward without having to facilitate him.