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/
The story doesn’t progress much in chapter 63, as it is still the same night, where the painter is with the main lead in the storage room. Yet, this doesn’t signify that there’s no change in the relationship between the two protagonists. In fact, we could say that this is the night of revelations. In chapter 63, the manhwalovers get to hear two love confessions, although their form diverges: Baek Na-Kyum and Yoon Seungho’s. Here, the painter is on the verge to admit his affection for the lord, yet he is stopped by Yoon Seungho. The latter can’t believe his words, he only trusts the painter’s physical reactions. As for the master’s love confession, it couldn’t appease the readers and please them, since they were upset with the way the main character was treating the painter. The reason is simple: they identify themselves with the painter and as such, they would never accept abuse, which is totally normal. However, I believe that it is important to read this manhwa with a certain detachment and analyze the main lead’s words very carefully. The portrayed brutality overshadows the lord’s words, hence his opening up and gradual transformation doesn’t catch the readers’ attention. That’s why I will focus on the lord’s behavior and words in this essay, because through them, the artist discovers new aspects about his lover.
1. Interpretation of the landscape during that night
But before starting with the analysis of chapter 63, I would like to examine this night, in particular, how Byeonduck introduced it. This panel comes from chapter 62, and here what caught my attention is the dimension of the house compared to the sky and the moon. In the former similar pictures, it was the opposite. (chapter 33). Besides, the moon was rather in the center of the image. Here, the satellite seems so far away, while the mansion occupies the biggest part of the image. Since I had interpreted that the house is a metaphor for the painter and the moon for Yoon Seungho, this picture reflects the importance of Baek Na-Kyum in the aristocrat’s life. Baek Na-Kyum represents his whole world. However, since the moon is so small, I sense that this reflects the lord’s emotional and mental state. Yoon Seungho isn’t really himself, he is lost in his fears and insecurities.
2. Yoon Seungho the master
Another possible interpretation is the coming disappearance of the moon, announcing the rebirth of the phoenix. Furthermore, the moon is so distant illustrating the gap existing between the two lovers. At the same time, the huge mansion also reflects the cause for the distance between them. One is a lord, a noble who can treat the artist as he pleases, since the former is a servant. And this issue is actually visible in chapter 62 and 63. Yoon Seungho is using his right as master to define their relationship. That’s why he expresses his firm refusal to let the painter go on two occasions. And if you compare the two idioms, you’ll observe a progression, the increasing determination of Yoon Seungho to keep the painter by his side. In the first sentence, Yoon Seungho puts “That” as first, which indicates how much the artist means to him: he can not permit the artist to leave him. On the other hand, we could say that this sentence mirrors Yoon Seungho’s treatment towards the artist. The latter is considered as a possession, an object (“that”). I would even add that this sentence illustrates his actual position. Baek Na-Kyum has no right, hence he is not even mentioned here. The lord doesn’t say here: “I can’t allow you that”. Then in the second sentence (“I will never let you go”), the personal pronoun “I” appears first showing his strong will to make it happen. His needs are prioritized and the painter has to submit himself. The personal pronoun “you” referring to the low-born is used as an object, once again the expression mirrors their relationship: the one is a master and the other a servant. As the manhwalovers can detect, both sentences have something in common: it revolves around permission, reinforcing my conviction that the noble’s one of major issues in their relationship is his status.
This third love confession is strongly connected to his status as master. And there’s a reason for this sort of love declaration. In his eyes, he has no other way to keep the painter by his side. He is not expecting a sense of loyalty or duty from Baek Na-Kyum, as he believes, the latter ran away. As the lord of the mansion, he is the one with the upper hand.
Nonetheless, in the last panel, Yoon Seungho reveals his true thoughts and feelings, demonstrating that he is definitely opening up. For the first time, he shows his need for the painter. So far, he had never attached himself to others, even confessed a certain dependency on others, though he was definitely relying on Kim and his knowledge. On the other hand, he has always perceived the painter as a servant in the end, despite his claim that he didn’t consider him as such. (chapter 47) In my opinion, the painter could definitely confront him with his own lies, just like he did in chapter 26.
3. Yoon Seungho’s love confessions
And now, if we compare the aristocrat’s “love confession” in chapter 63 to the previous ones, we can detect a huge progression. (chapter 55) (chapter 58) and (chapter 63)
First, the manhwaphiles can observe that when the lord admitted his love for the artist for the first time, he kept his distance from the painter. The physical separation indicates his fear to reveal his true emotions. He definitely views this as a weakness and has the impression that he is exposed to danger. He is definitely protecting his heart by maintaining a space between them. In the second love declaration, the noble trapped the painter under his body displaying his fear that the painter might run away after a love confession from him. As you can observe, both love confessions had a huge difference. On the one side, the master encouraged the low-born to desert the mansion by opening the door and keeping his distance from Baek Na-Kyum. During the second love confession, Yoon Seungho was no longer willing to accept the artist’s escape. Since he had admitted his feelings and as such his dependency, the painter was forced to remain by his side. He had no other choice than to obey to his master.
However, both scenes have a common denominator. During these moments, the noble avoids the artist’s gaze. In chapter 55, he looks down, and in chapter 58, he only whispers it to the artist’s ears. Even when they are physically so close, the lord is attempting to hide his face on the painter’s chest. (chapter 62) For the first time, he hears Baek Na-Kyum’s heart, yet he is not ready to face the artist. This illustrates his huge insecurities. The main lead fears his own reflection. Nevertheless, in episode 63, this is totally different, as for the first time, the lord is looking at Baek Na-Kyum’s face directly, while admitting his dependency on the commoner. There is no physical distance and the master is starring at the artist and waits for his reaction. But here, he comes out as a strong person, because he utilizes his position as a master. This gives him the strength to face the painter. Yet, this is not what the latter desires too. He doesn’t want to be treated as an object or as a servant. That’s why I think, a real discussion is needed here. Does he really love him or does he just view him as a domestic? Furthermore, being in love is not a weakness and that’s what the low-born needs to show him. As you can observe, the lord utilizes now his position so openly to face his loved one. Only as a master, he has the power to claim Baek Na-Kyum as his partner.
Striking is that when the lord declared his feelings for the artist for the second time, he never said these words: I love you. Instead, he chose this: He admitted his defeat. Since he had lost the battle, he had become a wreck, making him very vulnerable. Whereas we all took it as a metaphor, the noble meant it literally. And now, we see the result of this defeat: he is indeed a wreck, hence he is blind and deaf. Moreover, it looks like the lord is unable to use his brain and notice the bruise on the painter’s wrist. He is emotionally unstable, because he had been forced to reveal his affection and vulnerability (dependency). According to his father’s doctrine, sex is a battle, therefore by confessing his love, he surrenders. And now, you understand why his father gave him such a role, absence of love is a synonym for independency and liberty. By attaching himself to the artist, he is in truth trapped himself. Now, the manhwaphiles can grasp, why the noble acted like that. The lord already viewed himself as a servant and object due to his love for the artist, but he was refusing to accept his position. In other words, he was in denial. That’s why he acts like a lord so openly.
On the other hand, by abandoning this rule (absence of love), we have to imagine that the lord must feel confused. He still thinks that every relationship is a balance of power and the painter’s confession did reinforce this impression. Remember that the artist treated the master as his sexual object, the one who will give him pleasure. The master could only perceive it as a power of force. Yoon Seungho doesn’t know, this is not correct, as he has never experienced it differently. Power relationship was the nature of his rapport with his own father. Just like he said, he has been living according to his father’s principles. In other words, the noble is no different from Baek Na-Kyum in the end. He was also exposed to coercive persuasion. This explicates why his last resort is to use his status as master to force Baek Na-Kyum to remain by his side. This is the only power he has over the commoner in his eyes. He is no longer expecting to be loved by the painter. Simultaneously, he is also revealing his true position: he is no longer free, dependent on the low-born.
4. Sex and power
Nevertheless, you can sense his powerlessness despite the use of his physical strength during this night, which the manhwaworms can detect in the following panel: The reason for his frailty is that in reality he is longing for something else. He wanted to obtain the painter’s love, hence he desired to be gazed with admiration and to see a smile on the painter’s face. However, he has no hope any longer. Just like I wrote it before, a confession from the painter was just a dream that would never come true. And his “escape” confirmed his doubts. Their magical night was just an illusion, and he became a victim of deception. The more he made positive experiences, the more he doubted his senses and reality. But the cause for this lack of trust and confidence is his self-hatred, which I had already pointed out. And now, I understand why he chose to impersonate the scholar. That way, he could feel love for the first time. By replacing the scholar, he could drop his self-hatred, for he was someone else. However, he got caught in his own trap. After this first experience, he longed for more and hoped for a renewal. But he imagined that by having sex would be enough, and realized the falseness of his belief. He imagined that his wealth and power would impress the artist, but he was proven wrong. His self-hatred is the reason why he is blind and deaf in the end. He has the feeling, he is not lovable. Yet, like he states, he was never able to receive a smile from Baek Na-Kyum. This shows that he would have treasured a smile from the low-born, revealing that despite owning the artist’s body, he has no control over Baek Na-Kyum’s heart and mind in the end. The tragedy is that he didn’t witness that his confession made the painter blush. He was definitely moved and happy. The rich main character’s impotence in front of the artist explains why he is using his sexual potency to submit the commoner. This is no coincidence why the lord is particularly rough in chapter 63. He is trying to compensate his impotence by using sexual power. Many readers could sense that this chapter was a new version of chapter 25, the rape at the pavilion.
However, this time, it is different for many reasons. First, the artist didn’t reject the lord, unlike in chapter 25. Here, the lord is reminding the artist, how he behaved during that night. He scratched his face and pushed him away. He even confessed that he loved the scholar Jung In-Hun. This panel reveals that the lord could never forget that night. He still remembers the rejection, which left a deep wound reinforcing his self-hatred. Yet, since the lord is wearing his mask of deception, we shouldn’t take the last sentence as face-value. If you recall that night at the pavilion, you could see, how mad, sad and pained the lord was for the rejection and how much he disliked the situation. He did feel remorse for his action later. That’s why I see this comment as a proof that he is surprised by the lack of resistance from the artist. He was expecting a different reaction.
The second difference I noticed is the following. Since the painter declared that they had just a sexual relationship, the master is using this aspect to torment the painter. Because they are just two naked bodies and he is a lord, he can treat the partner as a toy. He has the right to do so. It was, as if Baek Na-Kyum was getting punished for his lack of honesty in chapter 49 due to his fear. His lack of trust caused the lord to mistrust the painter either. This is the second wound Yoon Seungho is confessing. The lord imagined in chapter 25 that if they had sex again, then the artist would come to accept him and even love him. Back then, the lord had no idea, what he was expecting exactly. He couldn’t tell that he was looking for love. In his mind, he was longing for admiration in the gaze, for a smile and for a blushing face. He had the hope that he could get, what he desired, if they renew their Wedding night. Here we have the opposite. He is so convinced that he is not loved and will never obtain the painter’s heart, although this time, Baek Na-Kyum is truly loving him. Yet both incidents unveil the lord’s major flaw. The lord is again too dwelled in his own thoughts to perceive reality. He has lived for too long as a spirit in his mind that he is not able to see the truth in front of him.
The third divergence is that there’s actually a misunderstanding. While the painter is just asking the noble to stop, because he is exhausted and fears to show pleasure, the lord has the impression that Baek Na-Kyum is rejecting him totally, begging him to let him go forever. That’s the reason why the noble replies later that
And now, you can understand what my next point will be: the word “never”. Striking is that this idiom is constantly present in Yoon Seungho’s mind. Here, it is implied due to the utilization of the different tenses (simple past – present). When he rejected his childhood friend, there was an allusion to never too (“not the slightest chance of ever”). And in chapter 63, it appears twice. This unveils the lord’s true mind. He will never be loved. However, while revealing his true thoughts, he expresses a positive emotion for the first time. He felt joy due to the painter’s words This is a huge step for the lord, which doesn’t escape Baek Na-Kyum’s notice. The painter is indeed surprised and moved in my opinion, although he doesn’t have the time to reply to this admission. The fact that the painter is looking at Seungho’s eyes without any fear or disgust indicates for me that Baek Na-Kyum is slowly grasping the noble’s state of mind. For the first time, he is discovering the lord’s insecurities and wounds. In the past, it was different, since the artist was himself blind and deaf due to Jung In-Hun’s abandonment and betrayal. He also avoided his lover’s gaze and didn’t pay attention to his words (chapter 49) Besides, during their rough sexual encounter, the painter’s mind is neither polluted by the scholar’s doctrines nor influenced by his negative emotional state. Even the idiom “never once” outlines the lord’s despair and pain. I believe that the artist is able to sense that the noble was in a similar situation than himself. Besides, let’s not forget that the artist heard about the main lead’s past from the doctor.
6. The significance of the shed scene
In the first version, I had voiced that the painter wouldn’t react, like the lord had anticipated and I was proven correct. When he got the opportunity to leave the mansion, Baek Na-Kyum refused to follow his sister. In my opinion, their interaction in the shed was the reason for his stay, while every one imagined that this would be the cause for his departure. Imagine the irony. Kim, Min and Heena all saw the wrecked Baek Na-Kyum, therefore they could only see it as mistreatment. Nonetheless, the painter heard, saw and sensed the lord’s despair and affection during this intercourse. Besides, observe that in the following picture, Baek Na-Kyum is neither avoiding nor fearing the aristocrat’s gaze. I couldn’t help myself connecting this to the scene in chapter 52, where the artist was wondering about the lord’s impenetrable gaze and his indifferent expression. By showing himself entirely, with his self-hatred and longing for love, the artist was sensitive enough to comprehend the lord’s state of mind. That’s why I see here another difference to the scene in chapter 25. This time, there is a real conversation, even if there’s a misunderstanding from Yoon Seungho. The lord is communicating his thoughts and emotions, although the conversation doesn’t start right away. In fact, the chronology differs. First, they have rough sex, but the moment the painter whispers Lord Seungho, the latter decides to turn around the artist and face him. This is the first time that Baek Na–Kyum calls him like that in his presence. This did catch his notice. Then when he detects the painter’s blush, he starts talking but this time, this is no longer a dialog of the deaf. This time, the lord is listening more to the artist’s words, exactly like I had anticipated. When the picture of a blushing Baek Na-Kyum was briefly released, I couldn’t restrain myself from associating this picture to the scene in chapter 35, where the lord decided to give it another try, after witnessing the painter’s blushing. After hearing “Lord Seungho” and seeing his red face, the lord is opening up, however his doubts and self-hatred are too deeply rooted in the aristocrat to have a huge revelation. He can’t believe that the painter is in love with him…. especially after the lord made him cry so much. That’s why at the end, he prefers relying on his status as master to claim the painter. His deep lack of confidence is strongly intertwined with the idea of happiness. He has the impression, he will never be able to make someone happy. The importance of the artist’s smile in his life illuminates two aspects:
- Yoon Seungho had no goal in his life before meeting the low-born. He was just living as a ghost. After their Wedding night, the noble hoped that he would become the source of happiness for someone. Making his partner happy would become his goal.
- He saw no meaning in his life. He was just the source of misery, shame and hatred. If he is able to make someone smile, then his life has a sense. That’s why he can start living properly.
As a first conclusion, the chapter 63 announced the coming breakthrough and this interpretation is proven correct. The painter was able to get a glimpse of Seungho’s true thoughts and emotions and accept it. He was no longer in denial about his lover’s adoration. After this night, he was more struggling with his own feelings. Exactly like I had predicted, this final transformation was accompanied with a tragedy and with huge pain. Yoon Seungho had to admit that his self-hatred led him to commit wrongdoings towards his loved one. Hence he was forced to give up on his title. He could no longer be a noble, as he had behaved like a “savage”. On the other hand, the painter had proven his “nobility” by remaining faithful and loyal despite the harsh treatment. Baek Na-Kyum’s empathy, endurance and courage pushed the lord to get rid of the terrible reflection the aristocrat had about himself. As the painter’s servant, Yoon Seungho is less pressured and he has the artist as role model.
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