This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhinus.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes. If you want to read more essays, here is the link to the table of contents: https://bebebisous33analyses.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/table-of-contents-painter-of-the-night/
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Some of my readers might not know what Fall of man is referring to. Fall of man is the term used by Christian theologists to describe the expulsion of Eva and Adam from paradise after eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now, you know where this expression comes from. It’s from the bible and more specifically from Genesis 2-3. It explains the story of the original sin.
In the Garden of Eden, God planted two trees and he asked Adam and Eva not to eat the fruits from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, Satan, taking the form of a snake, convinced Eva to disobey God’s order. She took a bite from the forbidden fruit and after tasting it, she gave it to Adam so that Adam committed the same sin. Once God discovered their disobedience, he chased away the woman and the man from the Garden of Eden. This represents the end of paradise for humans. The forbidden fruit is actually an apple therefore eating the apple from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil symbolizes the original sin, the loss of innocence and indirectly death too. Since Eva and Adam were expelled from paradise, their fate is associated to death. Now, Eva and Adam can no longer live forever and are confronted with evilness, hardships and temptation their whole life. Humans can only return to paradise after their death, if they behave as good Christians and are true believers.
Now, you are wondering where the common denominators between the Genesis and the manhwa Painter of The Night are, since the Korean story is actually a book with many explicit sex scenes. First, eating the apple is often viewed as a representation of sex. The snake embodying temptation and evilness seduced Eva to discover sexuality hence Adam couldn’t resist her so that they had an intercourse for the first time. That’s the reason why women during the Middle-Age were judged so negatively in Europe. Catholic Church reproached them of being the cause of the original sin. If Eva, the archetype of women, hadn’t listened to the snake representing the devil/Satan, Adam wouldn’t have fallen to temptation and he would never have had sex. Therefore sex and nudity are often related to Satan, like in this picture.
Notice that Satan’s sex reminds us of a vagina, he is not eating men through his mouth but also through his sex. Therefore we can take note of the demonization of the woman’s sex. This explains why women were often suspected to be witches. This is also the cause why Catholic Church only encouraged sex for procreation. Sex should never be linked to pleasure. Now, you can understand why sex is perceived as dirty and enjoyment is associated to sin. During the Middle-Age, Christians should never enjoy sex and only judge it as a duty so that God could get more believers. As a conclusion, the original sin and Fall of man are connected to the discovery of sexuality, copulation and joyance.
Then we have to remember that the expulsion from the Garden of Even is linked to the Tree of Knowledge between good and evil. What should get your attention is the word Knowledge. If you read my analysis about Spring Awakening (part 1 and 2), you know the importance of sex education. Wendla, one of the protagonists of Spring Awakening, got pregnant because she had no idea about sex and its implications. Her mother never told her how women got pregnant. That’s why I pointed out earlier that the original sin is linked to the discovery of sexuality, the knowledge what sex means and implicates.
In order to grasp better the similarities between Fall of man and the manhwa, I am listing the following elements:
- The presence of the forbidden fruit, an apple, symbolizing temptation and sin
- Three people were present during the original sin: the snake, Eva, Adam
- Garden of Eden personifying Nature
Maybe you have already recognized the picture chosen above as an illustration for this analysis. It comes from the chapter 23. Let’s contextualize the episode. Here, we have Yoon Seungho who invited Jung In-Hun and Baek Na-Kyum to go hunting. The hounding occurs after Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum had their first sexual encounter together.
What caught my attention is the presence of the apple in this chapter.
Notice that Baek Na-Kyum is the one eating the apple and later, the fruit is taken by Yoon Seungho who bites in the apple tasted by the painter.
So their actions resemble a lot to the ones from Eva and Adam in the Garden of Eden. Hence we can say that the painter is Eva and the lord Adam fitting their part in the couple. The woods correspond to the garden of Eden because the forest embodies nature, just like the location created by God. Then you might now ask who the snake is. Here, the loyal valet personifies the snake but his role diverges from the Genesis. He is not seducing the artist to get knowledge, to discover sexuality. He acts the opposite in reality.
Note that he pleads for ignorance, while the snake tempted to taste the fruit and get knowledge. He advises the low-born not to remember his coition with the lord. And we come to the most important part, the biggest contrast between the bible and the manhwa. The intercourse has already happened whereas in the bible, the sex only takes place after eating the fruit because they become aware of their own nudity and body. It looks like the chronology has been changed. Another difference is that Baek Na-Kyum is still innocent as he has no memory about that fateful night, while the lord is in the knowledge. Knowledge is what separates them. In other words, in this scene from the chapter 23, the chronology and the role of the snake diverge, yet it looks like the Genesis inspired our author. However, there is more to it.
Since eating the forbidden fruit means sex, then we have to return to their first sex together. Striking is that Yoon Seungho might have had a lot of sexual experiences due to his past, but their first night together represents a first for him too. He was able to discover what lovemaking is. So eating the forbidden fruit has a divergent signification for the master. He discovered a new side of sex, it is not just about having pleasure but giving joyance to his partner, feeling loved and admired and returning the same affection and warmth to his loved one. So he gets a new knowledge. (chapter 20) (chapter 21) That’s why he is embracing the uke wholeheartedly and kissing him so gently. Once he has tasted the forbidden fruit, lovemaking, he can no longer return to his old-self. He wants to renew and even deepen their relationship but for that, he needs the painter to remember. He is well aware that the drunkenness had an impact on the artist’s consciousness hence the next morning after their lovemaking, he visits the artist’s chamber waiting for him. The latter had to go out because of nausea and vomiting.
And now pay attention to the words and actions of the noble who has already fallen deeply in love.
First, he is wearing an dark purple robe with short sleeves. We can observe that he has dressed up especially for the painter. Now, you might realize my mistake. While treating the different clothes of the protagonist (the significance of clothes, part 2), I overlooked this chapter. However, it actually confirms my observations made there. When it comes to win the artist’s heart, Yoon Seungho pays attention to his appearance and wants to use his charismatic image in order to attract the man’s attention and awake sexual desires.
In other words, he improves his apparel because he wants to seduce him. Is he here acting like the snake, the devil seducing the uke to temptation? But if you look more closely, you’ll notice that there is a book with an illustration on the table. There are two men fornicating. This is not random, the master put it there in order to trigger the hint about their lovemaking. However, the painter pays no attention to this picture. Yet this doesn’t discourage the master hence he speaks about the events of the night before.
The irony is that Baek Na-Kyum committed a crime, he stole a bottle of expensive wine. Here, we can see another reference to the original sin and the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eva committed a sin by disobeying to God’s words and here, we have the painter who acted like a thief. We could even add that the bottle could be another representation of the forbidden fruit. Does this mean that their fateful night embodies another Fall of man? It seems so because Seungho is acting like God here, commenting about the low-born’s actions through insinuations and trying to confront him with his theft. The moment the painter is faced with his wrongdoing, he decides to lie about it.
Instead of chasing the commoner away for his larceny and as such expelling him from the garden of Eden, the noble just laughs it off.
On the other hand, the readers should keep in their mind that the commoner is in fact committing another sin. However the knowledge of their sexual encounter hasn’t resurfaced, since sex and knowledge are what matters. That’s why there is no Fall of man here. Yoon Seungho, the combination of God and Satan, is patient and even very lenient. Hence he doesn’t punish the artist for his sins, on the other hand the master doesn’t renounce so easily. He wants the painter to get the knowledge, to remember his first sex and their fateful night. Therefore he initially implies that he saw the painter during that night but Baek Na-Kyum doesn’t comprehend this signal.
Therefore the master refers directly to sex hoping that this would finally trigger the artist’s memory.
The irony is that Baek Na-Kyum is still clueless till the end. He has no recollection despite the repetitive insinuations of the lord. Each time, Yoon Seungho became more and move obvious to the point he had to mention pregnancy.
Even when he is given the medicine for his hangover indicating that the master is well aware of his sin, the artist remains innocent and pure. So due to his lack of knowledge, he can’t be expelled from paradise. However, we have to remember that in that scene, Yoon Seungho acted like a corrupted God, since he doesn’t condemn him for his crimes. Yet there is no ambiguity that the lord would have acted differently from God in the Genesis, if the commoner had remembered their lovemaking. He never wanted to make him leave the mansion which could be seen as paradise. Instead the main protagonist wanted to keep him there forever. That’s why we can interpret the manhwa as a new adaptation of the Genesis because we have two “scenes” referring to the Genesis 2-3: their fateful night together and the scene in the woods. The apple and the bottle were the forbidden fruit, whereas the learned sir and the loyal valet Kim were the snake. (Chapter 19) Baek Na-Kyum was seduced by an illusion, he was tempted by his “pure love”, although I have to say that here the painter’s unconscious played a huge part. The bottle that was stolen by the low-born was later used by the lord as lubricant hence we have this picture in the chapter 20.
This is just like in the bible. Baek Na-Kyum gave the forbidden fruit to the protagonist. That’s why I keep writing that each drawing has a purpose and deep meaning. Then we have the first original sin where Yoon Seungho was playing two roles, God and Adam, since he is the master of his domain. The Garden of Eden is the mansion and the forest simultaneously. While sex occurred in the first place, in the chapter 23 the focus is on the knowledge. Will the painter remember their fateful night? The moment he remembers, he loses his innocence and purity. That’s why the servant Kim advises him not to remember.
However, it is too late because the moment Baek Na-Kyum feels that he committed a sin, he catches a glimpse of a image from that fateful night.
The feeling that he did something wrong is related to the flashback therefore I would say that the last drawing personifies Baek Na-Kyum’s loss of innocence. The Fall of man is about to happen.
Interesting is that although we have two scenes referring to the original sin, the readers never witness the expulsion of “Eva and Adam” from the garden of Eden all this time. The reason is that Yoon Seungho chose to be patient, nevertheless he demanded the artist to paint hoping that at some point the low-born would recollect their wonderful night.
Because of this request, the painting becomes the symbol of the original sins. The aristocrat would like to engrave this night forever because it felt so beautiful, it was for him as if he had reached the paradise. That’s why when the noble hears that Baek Na-Kyum is transporting with him a painting causing him embarrassment and blushing, the lord misunderstands the content of the painting.
The noble thinks that the painter has finally recalled their memorable night hence he is so happy. That’s why later he decides to invite him to the pavilion through his loyal valet.
Now, you can understand what the scene at the pavilion means. This is the new version of the expulsion of paradise, the actual Fall of man, the revelation of all sins. Here, Yoon Seungho thought that he would see a painting of their sexual encounter so that the artist would become his lover. He was so wrong and misunderstood the low-born’s action. In the chapter 25, he really believes that if he acts like in their first encounter, the uke will accept him. (Chapter 25) But he is rejected. The forced sex seems to be the only way for the lord to claim the painter as his lover and partner (in his opinion), hence the rape becomes the expulsion of paradise for both men.
Baek Na-Kyum remembers that he confessed his love and lost his virginity to the lord, it is as painful as losing his virginity. The rejection and the forced sex make the lord realize that what he experienced during that memorable night was just an illusion and he can not experience it again.
The commoner has the impression that since he has lost his purity, he can no longer remain by the low noble’s side hence he whispers the name of his learned sir. Both realize that they lost something important… Both lost their innocence. Baek Na-Kyum experienced sex for the first time, fully aware, whereas the lord was hurt that the painter could never treasure their unforgettable night. They are like expelled from the Garden of Eden therefore the following chapters are so painful for both protagonists. Both meet hardships, the lord keeps getting rejected and criticized, while the artist is forced to do a fellatio and later to have a sex marathon. However each time, Yoon Seungho fails to win the man’s heart because he hasn’t understood yet that feelings are important when it comes to lovemaking. He can never act as if sex was a fight. Feelings can’t be forced.
Now, you can understand why the rape had to happen at the pavilion. It is a combination between nature (woods) and civilization (mansion) so that they would feel the banishment. Yoon Seungho can no longer imagine that the love he received during that night was directed to him, this is the end of paradise hence he gets jealous and angry. He would really love to become the recipient of such a love. Both made a terrible experience with sex, something connected to pain and gain a new terrible knowledge. Sex and love are not really similar but the lord had no idea how to gain the painter’s affection. (Chapter 23)
Fall of man just occurred once, however we have two original sins. The first one was when the lord took the teacher’s place (chapter 26) and the other is when the artist stole the bottle of expensive wine and lied about his action.
The latter paid a huge price for his sin, just like the powerful noble. It took them a long time to overcome their trauma, the pain of rejection and betrayal. Yoon Seungho also made the mistake to act like God, because he thought that his wealth and power were convincing enough to win over the painter. However, he was just a human as his assets meant nothing to the commoner. Hence he had to pay for his sins. Let us not forget that Baek Na-Kyum sinned twice when he had sex with the lord for the first time. He stole the bottle and later he didn’t resist the temptation, when he imagined the low noble’s visit. He couldn’t bear the rejection from the teacher and had a hallucination. He might have forgotten it but he was the one leading their intercourse so he is not entirely innocent either. Deep down, Baek Na-Kyum always wanted to have sex before and even fantasized about the lord (the wet dreams in the chapter 2 and 6). Furthermore by stealing the wine, he sent the wrong signal to the seme (see my analysis about Breakups, chagrin and alcohol).
Nevertheless, I am not stating that Baek Na-Kyum is the reason why the lord sinned. We are no longer in the Middle-Age, where women should be blamed for the Fall of man. No, even if Baek Na-Kyum is a new version of Eva, both persons are equally responsible for their sins. No one is innocent, however the uke appears more virtuous due to his purity and chaste love through his heartfelt confession, hence the rape is a terrible “punishment” for the painter. He, who never connected sodomy to violence and sin before he met the low noble, has to discover another side of homosexuality. It is not just about love and warmth. It is a harsh fall for the artist that’s why it is important for the artist to rediscover his first perception of homosexuality. Sodomy can be something natural and as pure as love between a woman and man. Hence their relationship improves the moment the noble learns from his mistakes and is willing to give up on his pride and position as master, he starts prioritizing the low-born’s pleasure. Little by little, the painter is discovering the joyance connected to sex and no longer denying his own sexual orientation.
After the Fall of man, Eva and Adam had to work and encountered many hardships, yet they got children: Cain and Abel. In other words, their love became fruitful. Therefore it becomes clear that the noble will be able to become the real recipient of the painter’s love. It is just a matter of time. However, in the bible, Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. Should we see it as another allusion to what will happen in the second season? Will the valet Kim become the victim of the attempted assassination on Baek Na-Kyum? Honestly, this is what I have been fearing for a long time. I hope, I’m wrong because this would mean that Yoon Seungho would lose the only person who knows him so well and shows such an understanding. Imagine his pain and this will reinforce his need and longing for the painter’s love.
This will be my final words for this essay. If someone commits a sin, it is possible to find redemption that’s why forgiveness plays a huge part in Christianity. Repentance and admitting his sin are the conditions. It is the painter’s choice to forgive the lord for his sin, just like the lord forgave the artist for his sins (larceny and lie). It is just a matter of time until the painter forgives Yoon Seungho entirely, since the lord has already started protecting his painter and showers him with his care and attention. No servant is allowed to speak ill about Baek Na-Kyum and he has to be treated like a master. That’s why his clothing has also changed. Little by little, the artist’s status is elevated. But here is the next question: who will confess first? Will the lord be able to express his feelings, since he is not skilled in this matter/field?
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