This is where you can read the manhwa. https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/painter But be aware that this manhwa is a mature Yaoi, which means, it is about homosexuality with explicit scenes.
Now, you are surely thinking that this essay will be about the lord’s action in the chapter 53. Baek Na-Kyum got saved by Yoon Seungho hence the latter becomes a sort of Prince charming. He intervened the moment the painter had to hear verbal insults and we all know that the painter is much more sensitive to such oral attacks than to physical abuse. Yoon Seungho saved the damsel in distress with his action. However, this is just an illusion as the real prince charming is none other than Baek Na-Kyum himself.
If you study this scene again, you’ll notice that the lord was actually on the verge of losing his mind due to the fury and pain. He had just heard Deok-Jae saying that Baek Na-Kyum would become a prostitute and would be shared with many other men. With this picture alone, the noble could only go insane. He was already jealous of the tailor for touching his lover and making him blush. From the chapter 39, it became clear that Yoon Seungho desired to be the only one to provoke such reactions in the painter. No wonder that the lord became so brutal and turned into a fury.
This is no coincidence that I am choosing such an expression as furies are powerful divine creatures representing wrath and punishment.
The Furies (or Erinyes, sing. Erinys) were creatures from Greek mythology who exacted divine retribution from those guilty of wrong-doing. Crimes which were especially likely to incur their wrath were those involving one’s family and anything related to oaths. The Furies were also responsible for carrying out curses, and the punishments they dealt out included disease and madness. quote from https://www.ancient.eu/Furies/
Observe the similarities. We have wrath, divine retribution for a wrongdoing, disease, family, and oath which fits our situation in the chapter 53. Deok-Jae as a servant is bonded to his master (a sort of oath), then the mansion where he is working represents his family. Yet, when he assaults the painter, it was as if he was committing a crime on a family member. He has already been cursed because he is already losing his sight. And now remember when I compared Yoon Seungho to a vengeful ghost as he was barely seen in that scene due to his violent punches and slaps. In reality, the main lead had turned into a Fury the moment he discovered the scene. Consequently, when the painter puts himself in the middle, brave enough to receive the slap destined to the jealous concubine, he transforms the noble into a human again. He, a human, shows no fear in front of a powerful and divine creature. How can a human being have such power? I could say that his strengths are purity and selflessness. However, this is not enough. In fact, this action makes the noble realize that he is a man made of flesh and blood. The shock makes his heart race. Then, he sees the artist’s bruised cheek. He hurt his loved one, he is reminded of his love but the pain and shock are brief because Yoon Seungho is embraced by the painter immediately. With the tender hug, not only the latter can calm down the upset protagonist, but also he can make him feel the warmth in his body. Finally, the aristocrat is able to hear the artist’s gentle voice. As you can detect, due to the low-born’s actions, the lord’s senses were all reactivated: the sight, the touch and finally the hearing. Therefore the noble is no longer a Fury but a man of flesh and blood again. That’s the reason why I believe that the real prince charming is Baek Na-Kyum and not the other way around. I believe that there is a reason why the painter buries his face in the noble’s embrace. He doesn’t want to make him feel guilty. He knows that the rage was caused by the servant’s crime so he shouldn’t be blamed. Baek Na-Kyum is truly the hero of this story and thanks to him, the readers witness the lord’s rebirth. Remember that I said that on the lord’s robe, there are phoenixes, the symbol for a rebirth and transformation. From its ashes, it comes back to life. That’s the painter’s power. He can affect the lord so much that he is able to bring him back to life.
The real reason why I came to this title and idea was because of an observation I made thanks to my follower @user4792569. She had this picture as display on her computer. Thanks to this person, I made a huge discovery. Note that Yoon Seungho is not seen at the window this time. All this made me realize the progression from the chapter 44 to the chapter 52. First, we have the lord smoking at the window. Then in the chapter 51, he is sitting so far away from the window that the painter can barely see him. Finally in the chapter 52, he has completely disappeared. Then I told my follower that it looks like the aristocrat was waiting for his Prince charming at the window but since the latter never came, it seems that he has already given up on waiting. That’s why he decided to no longer stay at his window. Since I associated our main lead to a heroine waiting for her Prince charming in her tower, I came to the association of Rapunzel and @user4792569 added that he had indeed hair like Rapunzel!! As a conclusion, Rapunzel is Yoon Seungho. The latter, trapped in a tower, is waiting for his prince charming at the window isolated from the world. The weirdest thing is that the original fairy tale Rapunzel contains many similarities with our story.
But before contrasting the manhwa with the original fairy tale written by the brothers Grimm, I would like to examine the following drawing again.
Note the difference between this image and the two others from the chapter 44 and 51. The distance between the painter and the lord’s chamber has been reduced. Furthermore, in the chapter 44, the artist was just walking towards the mansion and not towards the lord. So he didn’t relate the building to the master, rather to the staff. The commoner was not looking at the noble, he just paused for a short moment looking at his Rapunzel and then went to his study. In the second drawing, the artist is still not ambling in direction of the lord’s room but his body and face are turned towards the window. And in the last image, we see the painter going to Yoon Seungho’s chamber. This symbolizes the huge change in the artist’s thoughts. Little by little, the home is taking Yoon Seungho’s form, although the man has vanished from the window.
However, I still see hope in the last drawing because the window is still open which reflects that the noble has not entirely given up on the painter. Furthermore, the manhwalovers detect the presence of the candles light guiding the artist to the lord’s bedchamber. The opened window and the light are signs that deep down, Yoon Seungho still wishes to be saved and released from his prison by his loved one. And just like the prince charming in Rapunzel, he observed the tower before approaching it willingly.
Each time, we had a drawing with Baek Na-Kyum standing in the courtyard and walking to the building, it was snowing. The snow symbolizes their love. Both have been so much hurt that they felt as if they had died that’s why their love is cold. On the other hand, we shouldn’t forget that snow burns as well. The combination of cold and hot does mirror their relationship. They hurt but love each other at the same time. Moreover, because snow is made of water, I interpret that their love is pure too. Now, you understand why I pointed out that the weather and time has always reflected their relationship and the protagonists’ state of mind. As a conclusion, their love is pure, cold but hot simultaneously that’s why from time to time they feel love or coldness and distance. Their love might be pure, but it is always accompanied with pain. That’s the reason why now I consider the lord’s words here as a love confession. However, he couldn’t use the words “I love you” as he has never experienced it before. I doubt that his father ever said this to him. And now, you understand why I kept saying that we should never jump too quickly to conclusions and judge the main lead as someone stupid or crazy. He is just a traumatized boy who stopped growing up since he decided to stop living as a human and chose to become a spirit.
Due to this picture, I thought of Rapunzel and now it is time to contrast both stories. First, I would like to remind my readers that I am only using the original version of Rapunzel, since I prefer using books as references.
In both stories, the main character is living in a prison. The young woman has been raised in a tower without door and stairs and has only a view to the outside world from a window, while the aristocrat keeps smoking in front of his window doing nothing. Due to his passivity, I had already disclosed that he wasn’t truly living. I portrayed him as a zombie, a dormant volcano or a spirit. He was just living through his mind hence he perceived himself as a spirit. Since they are in a similar situation, we can say that both can’t make any real experience as they are cut off the world. This explains why the lord can’t recognize his feelings for the painter. But here is the question: How did it come to all this? Why are both imprisoned?
In the fairy tale, the child Rapunzel is taken away from her parents by a sorceress. The latter had a beautiful garden where there was lamb’s lettuce. A couple could view from their window this garden and admired the plants and especially the rapunzel. One day, the wife wished to eat some corn salad from that garden and forced her husband to steal some by lying to him that she was dying. The husband acted according to her wishes, however the moment she was able to eat some, she wished to eat more and more from it and kept sending her spouse to that garden. Nonetheless at some point he got caught by the owner of that wonderful garden. The sorceress got first mad but accepted the man’s excuses (“the wife felt dying and he wanted to save his wife”) so that the witch proposed the following deal. The couple had to give her the child the moment she would be born. That’s how the sorceress got her hands on the girl Rapunzel and raised her as her own. The reason why I am telling the whole story is the following. The protagonist got separated from her biological parents because they committed a crime: theft. Furthermore, Rapunzel’s biological mother lied to her husband. She never died, it was just that her greed and desire were so big that she couldn’t resist the temptation. In other words, the daughter got punished for her parents’ wrongdoings. If we had to list all the sins committed by the parents, then we come to the following observation: ambition, selfishness, theft, greed, cowardice and lies.
Now, if you contrast this to the manhwa, you’ll notice the parallels. I have already stipulated the following theory: Yoon Seungho got betrayed by his father because the latter committed a crime. From my perspective, he must have planned something against the king and in order to save his own skin, he decided to use his son. Because of the purge, we know for sure that the father was involved in some conspiracy against the king. So we can deduce that greed and ambition were a trigger for the plot. Out of cowardice and selfishness, Yoon’s father sold his son for his misdeed. The sins are all the same in the end. Since we have no info about the mother, I can’t make any comparison with Rapunzel’s biological mother. As a conclusion, both children paid for their parents’ crimes.
The other analogy is the adoption. The sorceress became Rapunzel’s surrogate mother and she hid the child in her tower. While this story is famous for its allusion to physical and mental abuse, I believe that this fairy tale offers other messages which are often neglected because people focus much more on the scene with the hair cut. Nonetheless if you focus your attention on the beginning of the story, the story gives other moral lessons. For me, the witch was not motivated by hatred and resent, when she built the tower for her adoptive daughter. My interpretation is, she wanted to keep the girl for herself. We have to imagine that she must have felt lonely and saw Rapunzel as a companion. She wanted to create her own family but couldn’t as she had no partner. Remember that the witch was on her own before getting the baby. One of the lessons of this fairy tale is that many parents, especially mothers, have issues to accept that the children will grow up and turn into adults. They wished, their infant would remain a child for a long time in order to keep them by their side. Another message is that they want to ensure that their child never discovers pain and as such failure, if you consider the tower as protection. They will do anything to protect their infant and remove every obstacle for them. In both cases, fear triggers their behavior: fear of abandonment, failure, pain. Striking is that this message is still very actual because in our modern society, we have helicopter parents.
“The term helicopter parenting was coined in the 1990s and generally applies to parents who are overly involved in their children’s lives, especially in academic and achievement-related activities. “ quoted from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-baby-scientist/202007/why-helicopter-parenting-fosters-failure
In the manhwa, the adoptive parent is valet Kim. He is the one taking care of Yoon Seungho. He helps him getting dressed and even brushes his hair. We could say that he sometimes acts like a mother (brushing the hair) or like a father (asking the doctor for an aphrodisiac for the painter). However, due to his social status, he is not allowed to be considered as Yoon Seungho’s father which explains why the aristocrat has to remind him of his place. Consequently the lord has not realized the true nature of his relationship with the butler. He trusts him, yet simultaneously he is oblivious to the loyal servant’s feelings. He doesn’t see that he has been respected and loved by him for a long time. The social gap hinders him to judge his valet correctly. Striking is that the butler stands in opposition to the sorceress because of his selflessness. He does feel fear like her but his scare is different.
This has nothing to do with abandonment, rather he is frightened of the adoptive son’s strength. Unlike Rapunzel, who is helpless and powerless as she relies too much on her godmother and can’t fight against her punishment, Yoon Seungho is strong and influential. He might be trapped in a prison, but his cage is just virtual. He has definitely connection to the outside word, we shouldn’t forget that he also has shadow guards. He chose to remain in that tower in order to avoid wound and betrayal. And this shows how similar the fairy tale and the manhwa are. The “chamber with the open window” is the tower but here the main lead made this choice willingly, whereas the young woman was a victim of her mother’s abusive attitude. She wanted to be the only one loved by her adoptive daughter. In my opinion, the witch is too obsessed with Rapunzel.
But let’s go back to the adoptive father Kim. In my opinion, butler Kim embodies the perfect parent. He loves his adoptive child despite his flaws. He is very understanding and supportive, tries to explicate his son’s harsh behavior without embellishing his wrongdoings. However, the servant’s decisions might be sometimes wrong too, just like any parent’s. Let’s not forget that perfect parents don’t exist. It is normal to make mistake as parents, since the latter are humans: “error is human”. That’s why the parents in the fairy tales are often portrayed with flaws as well.
Interesting is that Kim realized very early on what the painter meant to his surrogate son. Initially he thought it best if their first night together remained an one-night-stand. We could say that he tried indirectly to separate them, just like the sorceress did. In his mind, the painter wouldn’t be able to handle the aristocrat as he is too damaged. For him, the artist should forget that night and remain working as a painter at the mansion, however it was too late. Yoon Seungho was already deeply attached to Baek Na-Kyum. When he witnessed the outcome (rape), he anticipated that something bad could happen to the scholar, hence he ensured that the teacher would leave his bedroom. Kim prevented his son from committing a crime. The reason for dwelling on this aspect is that the valet never saw Yoon Seungho’s love for the painter as a betrayal, which stands so much in opposition to the sorceress’ words. That’s why we need now to focus on the betrayal.
In Rapunzel, the godmother discovers that her daughter has been seeing a man behind her back. She yells at her this:
“Oh, you godless child,” cried the sorceress, “what must I hear from you; I thought I had cut you off from the world, and you betrayed me!” In her rage she grabbed Rapunzel’s beautiful hair, beat it a few times around her left hand, took a pair of scissors with her right, and rip, rip, they were cut off, and the beautiful wisps lay on the ground. (translated from me because I have the German version)
Now, you can imagine the connection between Painter Of The Night and the fairy tale. Both children suffer a huge punishment: the parent cut their hair. This symbolizes abuse and in the manhwa, I would even add, it symbolizes a castration. Now, the manhwaphiles detect the parallels between the Grimm’s story and the Korean story. Yoon father resembles the sorceress too. He punished his son for a so-called sin and betrayal. The truth diverges: the parents were in reality betraying the children. Whereas the witch was too obsessed with her daughter’s exclusive love, the other did this in order to survive. Yet, they are also very similar in their behavior: selfish and cruel. The adoptive mother doesn’t even listen to Rapunzel’s explanations, she immediately reacts on her feelings. She has the impression that she has been betrayed.
As for Yoon father, I envision that he set up his son in reality and created a scandal so that the father had a justification to abandon him. Yoon Seungho was a sodomite so that he could no longer consider him as a part of his family, the reality is that he proclaimed the son as a sodomite in order to cover up his own sins. Just like I mentioned above, the son paid for the father’s wrongdoings. That’s why the lord decided to live in a tower. So Yoon father is indeed to blame for this chosen prison. The witch and Yoon father were the ones who created the prison. But the affinity doesn’t end here. Rapunzel and Yoon Seungho are both banished. The only difference is that while the young woman is sent far away, in Painter Of The Night, it is the father who runs away from the mansion underlining his cowardice. Since in Rapunzel, the hair cut symbolizes physical abuse, then we could say that Yoon father abused his son too.
While reading the fairy tale for the analysis, I couldn’t help myself smiling because I discovered more parallels between the two stories. When the prince charming got caught by the witch, she mocked him by saying this:
“You want to fetch the lady dearest, but the beautiful bird is no longer sitting in the nest and no longer sings; the cat has fetched it and will also scratch your eyes out”.
Notice that Rapunzel is compared to a bird and even before reading the fairy tale again, I compared our Joseon main lead to an eagle. Then, the lamb’s lettuce is the plant that gave birth to Rapunzel. Strangely, I associated the painter to the lamb. I have to admit that I had no idea that lamb’s lettuce was another word for rapunzel. And if you remember the observations I made while examining the scene where the powerful lord saved the painter, I described how the painter brought the noble back to life. The other similarity is the importance of love and sex. When Prince Charming and Rapunzel met in that tower, they had sex which is only revealed at the end. After getting banished, Rapunzel was on her own and raised her twins alone. The fact that she gave birth to children is a clue that the two protagonists made love. That’s the reason why the sorceress felt betrayed. The daughter had sex without the mother’s consent. Sex is also the reason why Yoon father betrays and abandons his son.
The sorceress also punishes Prince Charming and makes him blind. The other punishment is that he is separated from his lover for many years, until he meets her again. He recognizes Rapunzel by her voice and the woman’s tears are the cure for his blindness. Yes the tears… Sure, in the manhwa, “Rapunzel” is the one moved by the painter’s tears. However, in both stories the tears are a symbol of purity and honesty therefore they have an important finction. From my point of view, we will see Yoon Seungho’s tears later, just like it is only mentioned at the end of the fairy tale. Why do we need to see the lord’s tears? I believe that the lord never cried before, never during the betrayal and the gangrape (my theory), yet he needs to let out the tears in order to overcome the trauma. The confrontation between the prince charming and the sorceress could be perceived as a future encounter between Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon father.
The young man won’t fear the selfish and cruel father. Now, if we return our attention to the painter, we will notice another evidence that Baek Na-Kyum is Prince charming. When in the chapter 52, valet Kim reprimands the artist, he calls him a spoiled princess. This shows how much the butler values the painter. He definitely sees him worthy of his adoptive son. In his eyes, he has become a princess, he just needs to stop acting spoiled.
That’s the reason why I feel the painter will take his responsibilities for his Rapunzel. Let’s not forget that in the philosophical tale The Little Prince, the fox told him this:
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose . ..”
Since the painter has tamed the eagle, transformed him into a human being, he needs to become responsible for Yoon Seungho. Imagine the huge scandal. A low-born decides to overlook the conventions and declares that he will be responsible for his lord, since the latter has feelings for him. This would be really interesting if this turns out true. I have to admit, in all the last essays, I keep mentioning a scandal. The reason is simple: Byeonduck wanted to call her manhwa “Scandal…” hence I am still expecting for a huge scandal!! And since I described in this drawing, the painter’s slow approach to the lord’s bedroom, I have the feeling that the painter will be the one to make the decision. He had already taken the lord’s side slowly like we could witness in the image above and the hug reveals that he is truly supporting him now. He is no longer forced or fears his strength and fury. In fact, he understands the lord’s pain instinctively and accepts him with all his faults.
As a final conclusion, Painter Of The Night could be truly perceived as a new version of Rapunzel. The sorceress is a combination of valet Kim (the adoptive mother) and Yoon Father because the moment she got aware that her daughter met a man, she felt betrayed and punished her. Sex was the reason for the banishment and abandonment. Since Yoon Seungho is Rapunzel, I truly hope that people will start perceiving him as a real victim. The incident with the topknot is just the peak of the iceberg. Furthermore, Rapunzel represents the passage from childhood to adulthood accompanied with separation. Rapunzel discovers love and become an independent person. She might have been banished, yet she was able to raise her twins. The experienced pain and the separation from her mother helped her to find her freedom and gain more experience, knowledge of the world. Yoon Seungho is also making new discoveries thanks to Baek Na-Kyum. His prince charming showed him that innocence and purity still exist. Yoon Seungho is changing, he is little by little discovering innocence and love.
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