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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In the first part, I examined the beginning of chapter 52 very closely so that I could give a better portray of Min, the so-called “Black Heart”. Consequently I came to the following results: Min approached Yoon Seungho with the intent to overthrow the alpha from his “throne”. He used his connections among the nobility to get intelligence about the main lead and then he approached him. Furthermore he influenced the aristocrats to generate rumors so that Yoon Seungho’s reputation would be destabilized (chapter 33 / chapter 43). Although Min is a manipulator, he places pleasure and fun in the center of his life. He has no sense of morality as he doesn’t feel any remorse committing wrongdoings (smoking opium so openly, though it is illegal; inciting Jihwa to have the painter killed). He is arrogant and feels entitled due to his social status. Not only commoners are below him but also the other aristocrats from the local nobility. Finally, I could perceive that Min’s information about the protagonist is inaccurate and incomplete as he relies on the nobles’ perceptions and the rumors. The only thing he could witness with his own eyes is the special place Baek Na-Kyum had in the main lead’s heart and mind therefore he believed, he had finally found the main lead’s weakness in order to win this war. Now, it is time to continue studying this character. I’ll start, when the first part ended:
There is another reason why Min doesn’t perceive Yoon Seungho as a madman. In my opinion, he senses a similarity to his own personality. He believes to recognize himself in the infamous seme. Since they share so many things, like for example disregarding social traditions, Min believes he knows how the protagonist thinks. According to Black Heart, Yoon Seungho is also a man prioritizing pleasure and fun over anything else. In other words, the villain only views his rival as “a man consumed by lust”. Sex and lust are definitely connected to joy and fun. Let’s not forget that’s the reason why the main lead became infamous. He never cared about rumors, general opinion and social norms. He did whatever he wanted… exactly like Min. In other words, Min is actually projecting his own thinking into the influential protagonist.
And this time, you can understand why I keep perceiving parallels between the scholar Jung In-Hun and Min. Both make the same mistake. In the chapter 6, Jung In-Hun thought that the rich lord would look down on commoners too. This was in reality the opposite. Black Heart and Black Mind (the scholar) thought that Yoon Seungho was like the rumors describing him: indulged in pleasure and no education. However this is just a misconception. Black Heart is making the monumental mistake not to question the intentions of Yoon Seungho’s daring behavior. He takes his abnormal attitude as face-value. He just thinks, the lord is doing it out of selfishness.
Min is quite amused by the comparison between the infamous hell-raiser and a madman hence he smiles. (Chapter 52) In my opinion, he must be mocking the other noble. He feels that his fellow is just too stupid and naive. Yet Min is actually overlooking an important aspect. There is an explanation why the other aristocrats are calling the protagonist a lunatic. Yoon Seungho is indeed revolutionary as he rejects social hierarchy and as such criticizes nobility with its privileges. During the 18th Century, libertines were fighting for liberty and equity and this is not surprising that the French revolution began 1789. Remember what I told about libertines, sex was just one aspect in their life, they advocate reforms and changes in the tripartite society, in the rigid social hierarchy. That’s what Black Heart is overlooking, whereas the nobles sensed this aspect but were not able to define it.
This is the reason why I describe the protagonist’s mentality as revolutionary. I doubt that this philosophy was common in Joseon, whereas it was more widespread in Europe due to the rise of the bourgeoisie thanks to the trade with the colonies. There is no ambiguity that our beloved seme is an oddity in Joseon, while Min is just a corrupted libertine like Valmont [see my analysis about Dangerous liaisons]. Black Heart is determined to use his position for his own selfishness and fun, he uses sex as war in order to defeat his enemy. As you can observe, Min is not revolutionary contrary to the main character, since he supports the social hierarchy.
Consequently I come to the conclusion that in this moment, we can witness another flaw in Min’s thinking. The latter assumes that Yoon Seungho is like him, yet this is incorrect. The main lead never paid attention to rumors circulating among the nobility either. That’s why the main lead didn’t intervene during the chapter 33. His retreat was not a defeat, he was just ignoring their opinion. Yoon Seungho just saw them as nobodies hence he had no reason to fight back for his reputation, since he never valued his notoriety. What Min perceived as a first victory was nothing in Yoon Seungho’s eyes. (Chapter 33) Here, he was challenging the lord for the first time. Furthermore like I had already underlined before, the lord created this image of hell-raiser as a shield. Thanks to his bad notoriety, he could deceive people and protect himself. Ecstasy was never his goal unlike Min, since Yoon Seungho desired to divert people’s attention. And based on my theory he never took pleasure in sodomy, he rather forced himself to live up to his bad reputation.
And in this chapter, we witness how successful the protagonist has been with his deception. (Chapter 52) No noble imagined that the main lead had an interest in government posts. Admittedly, only the readers know the reason why he is sponsoring Jung In-Hun. It happened because of the painter. However, I detect another manipulation here because of the following picture: [chapter 11] The noble has always been honest in front of the painter hence his words outline how powerful the main lead is in reality. He already has connections in the government but he never made it public therefore aristocrats thought, he was indulging himself in lust. While he went to sex orgies, he did pay attention to what was happening at the capital, yet he never showed up there due to his trauma. I would even add that he even influenced the government, but always unofficially and indirectly so that people would never make any connection to him. His power seems to be quite important since he proclaims that he can ruin the teacher’s career. This can be also the explication why he even adjoins that he will never get caught with Jung In-Hun’s murder. (Chapter 11) He can use his connections in the worst case to cover his misdeed. Nonetheless, I sense that he is also referring to his reputation as a man consumed by lust. As a conclusion, Min has no idea how powerful the noble he is challenging truly is. His judgement is based on the nobles’ reports and hearsay. That’s why Black Heart believes Yoon Seungho is easy to understand, since the rumor is quite simple. To summarize, Min is just another arrogant and stupid fool, overestimating his own abilities and underestimating his opponent. Like one of my readers wrote, Black Heart confuses cunningness with intelligence. Yoon Seungho is not only ruthless but also very smart.
And Min’s stupidity becomes really obvious, when he faces Baek Na-Kyum. He is in the master’s room next to the owner, yet he can’t refrain himself revealing his scheme: (chapter 52) But this doesn’t stop here. He even confesses Jihwa’s involvement. (Chapter 52) How can I not judge him stupid? I guess, opium has already confused his mind and reduced his vigilance. He is indeed careless and thoughtless. Besides, in the picture above, I noticed another important detail. He started insulting Jihwa as sodomite. This word “sodomite” reflects his opinion about sodomy as such. He is no homosexual per se, he just uses sodomy to submit the other masters. He is indeed similar to Yoon Seungho in that aspect. Both perceive sex as war, however the powerful noble did it out of resent towards nobility, whereas the other wanted to establish himself as the new ruler among the local aristocracy. Black Heart desired to prove his superiority over the other lords. the main lead had a different goal, it was to tarnish and ruin the image of the nobility. One might argue that the outcome is the same… which is correct, yet due to this, Min jumped to the false conclusion. Min assumed that Yoon Seungho had the same intention.
Striking is that when Min is facing the painter, he acts as if he was the owner of that place. He opens the door, questions the artist
and takes the painting away from the low-born’s hands. In that scene, he has no right, as he is just a guest. Nevertheless, Min acts like usually: shameless and mannerless. In reality, Baek Na-Kyum is not obliged to answer him, for he is only working for Yoon Seungho.
After grabbing the painting, he starts insulting the host.
From my point of view, we should mark this comment as the beginning of his challenge. He is mocking the lord, implying that he is still a man consumed by lust. He underlines that the lord didn’t practice restraint, quite the opposite. He even dared to have sex with a commoner. What an affront for all the nobles! He is such a scandalous man, showing again no regard to normal standards and common sense. Min is here attacking the powerful lord.
From my point of view, this scene should be read from three different perspectives in order to grasp the significance of this scene. While many readers were upset to witness how Yoon Seungho kissed the vicious noble in front of Baek Na-Kyum, it is relevant to remember the intentions of Min and the main lead.
Since Black Heart is attacking him and indirectly the low-born, Yoon Seungho can’t ignore his remark. This time, the insinuation and his bad reputation can affect the painter. Yoon Seungho is well aware of Baek Na-Kyum’s low self-esteem. Remember how embarrassed the painter was at the tailor shop. He feared public opinion and the master knows now that the painter views himself as a prostitute. So this kind of comment could definitely hurt the artist more, even reinforce the bad opinion Baek Na-Kyum has about the owner of the mansion.
What Yoon Seungho doesn’t know is that the low-born has already adopted a new philosophy. Here, the main lead chose to follow the painter’s request (Chapter 49), but due to the butler’s intervention, the protagonist decided to push the painter away. In his mind, it was the painter’s interest. The latter had just accepted the lord as his partner, as he felt obliged. But this was not entirely correct. Once the artist had admitted that he liked sex thanks to Yoon Seungho, this means that he had adopted this new philosophy. Furthermore the distance and separation helped the artist to realize that his lover had more meaning in his life than he had realized it before. Even in this chapter, the change is quite visible. (Chapter 52) The painter gets upset with the kiss but instead of letting his emotions take control of his thoughts, he ponders about the cause of these negative feelings. Why is he upset?
Now, it is time to pay closer attention to the lord’s behavior concerning the kiss. (Chapter 52) Notice the appearance of Yoon Seungho’s hand. It is directly put under the noble’s chin. This gesture is not anodine. His intention appears clear to me. He is aiming at his chin in order to mold his mouth. But he can’t make it too obvious, hence he disguises it after that with a kiss. The kiss is to shut Min’s mouth. Observe the lord’s hand is still grabbing the chin and his mouth is literally devouring Black Heart’s mouth. It was as if he was covering up Min’s mouth. He made sure that he would stop talking. Note Min’s expression. He never expected such a gesture, he thought that the lord wouldn’t retaliate like that, he would retreat. On the other hand, the main lead is not happy, he is actually furious.
There are different explanations for his angry look. He is mad at the noble for hurting the painter with his remarks and for endangering his fragile relationship with Baek Na-Kyum. He is also angry as he had no other possibility to stop Black Heart from mocking him and the artist. Another possibility is that he is well aware that his kiss could affect the low-born, nonetheless he sees no other solution. Another cause for his anger could be that he never expected the painter would show up that night. He had organized something else concerning Min and he never predicted Baek Na-Kyum’s visit, complicating his plan. Another possibility is that he got upset to see that the low-born was wearing his former clothes and his white headband again. This could give the impression to the noble that his plan “distancing himself from the low-born” didn’t help him to improve his relationship in the long run. It had the opposite effect. He got upset that his subterfuge “keeping his distance from the painter” didn’t work like expected. He hoped to protect the low-born as he knew what was going around him and now with the painter’s appearance, his plan gets ruined. As you can conclude, a single gaze can have so many different significations. All this proves to me that the lord is far more complex than Min thinks. Even the painter noticed it, he compares the lord to a mystery.
The first impressions the manhwaphiles had about this scene were negative. They saw the lord cheating on the painter as he was kissing another man in the commoner’s presence. I was even myself speechless for a moment. However, if you look more closely, you’ll notice that there is no real kiss. On the first picture above, the lord was covering Black Heart’s mouth with his mouth wide open. And in the other drawings, only their tongues are touching other and their mouths are wide open too. Their lips don’t truly touch each other, their eyes are not closed either. As a conclusion, what we are witnessing is here neither sex nor lust but a battle. Therefore they have to focus their gaze on the opponent. They are fighting with their tongues. Their organs are their weapons. Notice that no tongue is able to enter the mouth of the other. Entering the mouth would signify defeat. Min had started the fight with his mockeries and Seungho had to react as the painter was present and could be hurt by these vicious remarks. From my perspective, Yoon Seungho is still very protective of the painter. He will use every possible mean in order to defend him, even if this solution seems weird on the surface. Compare these kisses to the one he had with the painter: (chapter 46) What a difference! Min dared to challenge his host and this time, Yoon Seungho didn’t remain passive or retreat. He accepted the defy. This is what I take away from this scene.
That’s it for today. In the next essay, I’ll analyse the conversation in the lord’s chamber. This might have a different title.
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