Painter Of The Night: Light, hope and desires written by @user4792569 and Bebebisous33

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.

The idea from this essay comes from @user4792569. After reading all my analyses, a detail caught her attention so that she started researching on the subject and made new discoveries. In order to make sure that her ideas would reach more people, I proposed her to post her thoughts on my blog. But since it was her first essay, I offered to complete her work so that it would be much more detailed. Therefore, this essay is the result of two persons. Now, you are surely wondering about the nature of the detail. In this essay, we will present how Byeonduck used the candles in order to convey different thoughts and emotions, all related to the two protagonists: Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum.

Before starting with their utilization in the manhwa, it is important to explain the symbolism of the candles. First, a candle is associated to life that’s the reason why it is often used in literature and in religions as a metaphor for a human life. Let me give you two examples. In the fairy tale “Der Gevatter Tod” (Godfather Death) from the brothers Grimm, the doctor who has as Godfather Death dies the moment the light of his bougie disappears. Death kills him because he disobeyed his order. Striking is that just before the light from the doctor’s candle is extinguished, Death explains that the length of the bougie represents the length of people’s life. When the doctor asks Death to show him the light of his life, he discovers to his horror that he is about to die. As you can observe, the candle’s length and its light symbolizes life. At the same time, it is also related to hope. In many religions, when people pray, they often enlighten a candle.

Therefore this is not surprising if we find the following quote in Christian congregations: “The candle symbolizes light in the darkness of life especially individual life, illumination; it is the symbol of holy illumination of the spirit of truth.”https://findanyanswer.com/what-does-an-extinguished-candle-symbolize

This quote is influenced by the bible, where the candle is often mentioned, like for example “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. An unlighted candle is standing in the darkness, and some one comes to light it.” (proverbs 20:27)

The expression “light in the darkness” can be interpreted as hope since: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And “In the light, there is always hope. In hope there is always love.” As you can observe, light, hope and love are strongly intertwined. Let’s not forget that Christianism advocates charity which is a synonym for brotherly love (“l’amour du prochain” (French), Nächstenliebe (German), amor al projímo (Spanish). In other words, bougies symbolize life, hope and love.

Besides, it is important to note that candles can’t be separated from fire. Therefore, we need to explain the symbolism of the fire.

“Fire symbolizes many things, including passion, desire, rebirth, resurrection, eternity, destruction, hope, hell and purification…We used fire to cook food, forge tools, and stay warm at night.” https://firefightergarage.com/symbolism-of-fire/

Since in the second quote, the keywords are “desire” and “stay warm at night”, we can definitely relate the candle to passion and desires as well. As you can observe, the candle can represent different types of love: the passionate and sensual one as the brotherly and caring one. What caught our attention was the different kind of candles Byeonduck used in her story. And since each drawing and even detail has its signification, we will also focus on the form and the position of these candles as they not only reflect the characters’ thoughts and emotions but their relationship as well. Now, you can better understand why we came with the title “light, hope and desires”. 

The readers are wondering in this moment why we associated the candles to Yoon Seungho and Baek Na-Kyum. It is quite simple. After reading the manhwa closely, we detected that the bougies were always positioned parallelly to the characters, like for example in the chapter 2 or chapter 16 As you can observe, the yellow bougie on the candlestick symbolizes the lord, while the white ones embody the painter. But later, it has changed. The one on the candlestick symbolizes the painter, and the white ones the lord. The switch occurred in the chapter 32. (chapter 35) This explains why in the chapter 55 and 56 we have the following pictures:

But now it is time to start with the examination of the first appearance of a candle in the manhwa. In the first chapter, the servant is telling Seungho all the information he has found about Baek Na-Kyum Since Yoon Seungho is right next to the candle it represents his conscious. It indicates that all his thoughts are focused on Baek Na-Kyum. In this case, the fire of the candle symbolizes his desire and hope to meet the painter soon, since the young master has been really curious about his hidden identity. Furthermore, it also announces the role played by the artist in the future. The commoner is the “light in the lord’s dark life”. In other words, the moment the lord encounters Baek Na-Kyum, a honest and pure person, his life changes forever. However, observe that there is only one candle illustrating that the affection hasn’t grown that much yet. Moreover, the candlestick stands quite far away from the lord, which seems to indicate that the lord is controlling his emotions and thoughts. Finally, the candle is on a chandelier mirroring the frozen state of our main lead. He hasn’t been living like a man, rather like a ghost as he was most active during the night.

Then in the chapter 5, we have the following situation. Jihwa is in his friend’s bedroom trying to arouse him, while the lord keeps thinking about the painter. The proximity of the candle reflects the lord’s thoughts. He keeps thinking about the painter’s criticism. It gives the impression that the light is almost coming from the protagonist’s head. It truly shows how important the commoner has already become in Yoon Seungho’s life. It was as if the noble had an illumination, had now a reason to ponder about himself and his own image. Notice the contrast to the picture from the chapter 2. Here, there’s no candle for the painter, yet his aura illuminates the room hence it looks brighter and warmer than in the chapter 5. You can imagine, why there is no candle for the artist in the second chapter. He fears his powerful host, he doesn’t have any feeling for him, yet the painter’s presence was enough to illuminate the room as the lord’s hope and desires were much stronger than in the first chapter and the chapter 5.

Then in the chapter 8, we have for the second time a zoom on candles and this twice. Why do the bougies have different colors? In my opinion, they mirror the protagonists’ purity. Yellow is linked to selfishness and white to innocence and selflessness. The lord is definitely attracted to the painter but his affection is more linked to sensuality and sexuality than real and deep love. He’s definitely selfish as he doesn’t pay attention to the artist’s emotions and state of mind. On the other hand, the two candles for the painter symbolize the innocence of his soul but simultaneously, his increasing and strong libido. On the one hand, he paints for the main lead as he has been forced to for his teacher’s sake. So his exposure to sex is not voluntary. Let’s not forget that during this sex session, he gets so aroused that he can barely control his libido. While he’s painting, he imagines himself replacing the two ukes. At the end, his urges are so strong that he leaves the chamber in a hurry in order to masturbate. Striking is that in the second picture, the candle burns differently compared to the one in the chapter 5. The light has not only increased but also the warmth as well reflecting Yoon Seungho’s growing attraction for the commoner. As you can observe, the candles illustrate the noble’s increasing desires. Not only he thinks more and more about Baek Na-Kyum but also he wants to touch him. Since there is warmth, this means that his feelings are much deeper as well.

And it is time to focus on their Wedding night. Strangely, there are candles in the room but there is no fire. Does it signify that there’s no love or no desire? No, but the lack of light reinforces the idea that this event is like an illusion, a dream. However, what caught my attention is that during that night, the moon is shining very brightly so that we could say that the lord’s wishes are reflected by the moonlight. It was as if his wishes had been answered. He has found someone who would admire him. As for the painter, he expresses his admiration for his teacher and not for the main character hence there can be no candle with a light. Moreover, deep down he is also longing for sensuality so he is not entirely honest here either. He knows that this should remain a dream because his doctrine makes it impossible to have sex with another man. The lack of light is a signal that this event is an illusion.

Strangely, the last time the yellow bougie is associated with the noble is in the chapter 32, when the sex marathon occurs. This represents the climax of his selfishness but strong libido. He pays no attention to the artist’s health condition so that at the end, the latter faints. Note the contrast to before. The bougie is shorter, there is no warm and the light is not so strong compared to the one from the chapter 8. This fits the situation. The lord is only obsessed with sex and his own natural needs, the climax of his selfishness. So when he finally notices that the artist is sick, he starts acting differently. Hence the kiss marks the turning point in the noble’s mentality. With this kiss, he is gentle and tender, he wants to take care of the artist but it is already too late as the commoner is seriously ill. From that moment, we no longer see the candlestick associated to the rich protagonist. He has learnt his lesson, he needs to be more caring and pay attention to the painter’s feelings. That’s why we have the following picture in the chapter 35. The lord has discovered how to love more properly but he’s desperate. Notice that the light has been switched off hence it gives the impression, he has lost hope. This is not surprising that in this chapter, he is on the verge of giving up on the painter. He has even suicidal and murder thoughts as he has no idea how to obtain the painter’s love. The latter is truly a real puzzle which he can’t solve so easily.

On the other hand, we observe a reversal of situation. The painter is now associated to the candlestick and no longer to the white bougies. There’s a reason for this. Little by little, the painter is discovering the scholar’s true personality and losing his innocence. Strictly speaking his heart is suffering. We could say, he is little by little losing his warmth and getting more and more frigid. At the same time, the candlestick stands closer to the master so that we could say that their relationship has somehow improved. While the lord becomes more and more selfless, the painter is too focused on his discoveries and pain to perceive the kindness in the lord’s gestures. Observe that during the chapter 42, when they have sex, the room is totally dark and there’s no candle. This symbolizes the painter’s loss of hope and love. That’s the moment his heart gets frozen hence there can be no fire. Their sex session is full of sadness and the lord’s attempt to warm up the painter with his embrace and passionate kiss can not stop the transformation.

Another presence of the candles is also significant in the chapter 49:

On the first panel, there’s one candle separated from the other 3. From our perspective, these candles represent the noble as they are seen parallel to his head in the next picture. He’s not entirely himself. Let’s not forget that until that night, he still saw himself as a spirit. Therefore the lord’s transformation is not completed. He’s not been reunited with his heart. His mind is so focused on the painter that he has not realized that his heart was the real trigger. Since the candles are burning, it illustrates the love and affection the main lead is oozing. Striking is that the noble is conscious of his own actions, as his words reflect his intention and care. The increasing number of candles reflect the depth and power of his love. Yet, since they are closer to his head, it is now more understandable why the master has not realized his feelings for the painter. His mind was under the influence of his unconscious as his thoughts kept evolving around his lover. And since he was just a spirit, he couldn’t sense his heart beating for the low-born. As the fire symbolizes “warmth”, the bigger the fire is, the stronger the desires and the affections are. Therefore, it leads to the conclusion that those candles represent not only Seungho but the strong love coming from him. Therefore it is not astonishing that the aristocrat is the one hugging the painter and even caressing his back. Simultaneously, the former is longing for affection as well, he is hoping to have his desires fulfilled. He wants to be seen and admired, to be embraced and loved for his spirituality. We shouldn’t forget that he has been waiting for that moment for a long time. Even the painter can sense the warmth exuded from his lover, yet since the former had a bad experience with his first “love”, the scholar Jung In-Hun, he is rejecting the noble’s affection thinking that this is not real warmth.

This is not surprising that the candle on the bottom shelf symbolizes the painter. It is located next to his heart but note that it is still on a candlestick, showing that the painter has not abandoned his frozen state completely. Furthermore, it accentuates a certain selfishness as he is not paying attention to the lord’s words and feelings. As you could observe, the candlestick in this manhwa have only room for just one bougie.

Since the bougie stands behind his back, we could say that he is not showing his affection for the noble. And there’s a reason for this. His mind has chosen to perceive Yoon Seungho’s warmth as fake and artificial. That’s why his love is not visible to the noble. His feelings are not so deep compared to the other main character. He’s not letting his heart beat for the lord. That’s why later the painter only accepts to recognize the master as his sexual partner but refuses to give him his heart. And the moment, the painter makes this confession, observe how the room gets darker. As the light vanishes slowly, Yoon Seungho’s hope for love and admiration disappears as well. And this is no coincidence that when he has this realization, to accept his body to take the lead, the room is quite dark. He has lowered his expectations and he has the impression, he is slowly losing the fight.

This marks the end of the first part as the candles play another huge role in the next two chapters.

Feel free to comment. If you have any suggestion for topics or manhwas, feel free to ask. If you enjoyed reading it, retweet it or push the button like. My tumblr-twitter account is: @bebebisous33. Thanks for reading and the support.

3 thoughts on “Painter Of The Night: Light, hope and desires written by @user4792569 and Bebebisous33

  1. It was such an interesting idea about 🕯 I liked it a lot !! And we have the proof that it compete with the love and the sex drive.
    It was such a painful remark on how deep Seungho love was for the artist, and the moment it got dark when he made that confession.
    I can understand way better how the lord suffered (his fight with himself and the rejections ).
    Keep going and confirmation for your first analyse with the help of our teacher it was a great and Interesting combinaison 😘✨
    I’m looking forward for your second part

    Liked by 3 people

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