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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The chapter 67 caught me by surprise, because it proved me wrong in one aspect: Lee Jihwa is not like Baek Na-Kyum, in the sense that he is no orphan. The red-haired aristocrat has a father, an old-bearded man. (chapter 67) My first thought was: “Where were you all this time?”
I couldn’t help myself laughing, when Yoon Seungho barged into Lee’s mansion in chapter 67, because I immediately connected it to chapter 3, when the protagonist visited his childhood friend early in the morning. Back then, he barged with an erected phallus (chapter 3) and had sex with Jihwa at the pavilion, where both were not quiet at all. The red-haired noble kept even moaning. (chapter 3) Their intercourse was noticeable, but at no moment father Lee interrupted them. And now, the erected phallus was switched to a sword, and unlike in chapter 3, where the second lead was eager to meet his sex partner, the master chose to hide behind a windscreen. (chapter 67) However, this time father Lee intervened. Why all of the sudden? For the first time, his son caused a real trouble, because someone entered his house with a sword: a huge scandal! Furthermore, he must have realized that his son’s life was in danger, hence he had to intervene. The domestics couldn’t deal with such a powerful noble. And now, you understand why I couldn’t restrain myself from smiling, because the father Lee’s reproach sounded so hypocrite. (chapter 67) Where was he, when Yoon Seungho had sex at the pavilion? Why didn’t he intervene, especially if he sees the main lead as responsible for his son’s debauchery?
Because of this question, I was reminded of the song called “Papaoutai” from Stromae, a French speaking singer from Belgium. I am posting the video with the english subtitles.
In this song, the singer outlines the importance of fathers for children. However, he does it by criticizing their absence (Papaoutai = Papa où tu es?/ Papa, where are you?). Although this represents his main message, he also questions the role played by fathers in our modern societies. He points out that’s easy to become a father biologically, but being a father symbolizes responsibilities. He explains it, men don’t become fathers naturally, since it is a work process: “nobody knows how to make Papas” / Mister “know-it-all” would’ve inherited it, is that it? Does it come from sucking our thumbs, or what”. Moreover, for him many fathers don’t take their role seriously (“Genitors or genius, tell us who gives birth to irresponsibles”). The author exposes that a father needs to think a lot about his role as father. As a conclusion, the singer would like men to become more responsible for raising their children.
And it is time to return our attention to Painter Of The Night. Byeonduck utilizes her work to show the importance of fathers in sons’ life, as she exposes different types of negative behavior of fathers.
First, we have Father Lee. He only appeared after 66 episodes. His absence had given the impression that he was inexistent and Jihwa was an orphan. We could describe father Lee as ghost. And now, you understand why I chose such a title: Absence. What does it mean for children, when their father is not by their side?
Absence of parents is a synonym for parental neglect. What is child neglect exactly? There are 6 different types of child neglect:
- Physical Neglect or Deprivation of Needs Neglect
- Medical Neglect
- Educational Neglect
- Emotional Neglect
- Supervisory Neglect
- Environmental Neglect from https://www.kaplanco.com/ii/six-types-of-neglect
Many people think that this situation only happens in families with a low income, because it is related to physical and supervisory neglect which is more visible. However reality is different. We find neglected children in wealthy families. How so? The affluent children live in comfort, but they are often starved of love and affection (Emotional Neglect). This happens, when parents are too busy to spend time with their children. Therefore they hire personal to take care of their children or send them to boarding school. As you can imagine, Lee Jihwa is a child suffering from supervisory, emotional and educational neglect.
Since Father Lee relies on his servants to take care of his son, they are not qualified or responsible enough to care for him (supervisory neglect). Due to their lower status, they are not allowed to teach him or reprimand him. That’s why in chapter 9, only the servant asked Jihwa where he was going so early at dawn. Jihwa had not to justify his departure to his father. Then in chapter 41, one domestic finds the young man sleeping on the street, while looking for him. (chapter 41) He spent the whole night drinking and his father never asked about his whereabouts. He never showed any concern, as he has his staff to take care of him. In other words, he put the whole responsibility on the domestics. After confessing to Yoon Seungho in public, no servant shows up and takes care of him indicating that neither father Lee nor the staff heard about the scandal. Nameless was the one who was asked by the inn owner, if he could take care of the young noble. (chapter 59) He even gave him a dry robe and a home for the night. Since the servant only showed up the next morning in chapter 41 and he didn’t even appear during the night in chapter 59, it illustrates that the staff is more attached to the mansion than to the impulsive noble himself in truth.
This is not surprising that in chapter 67, the servant does his best to protect his master. Despite his rude behavior in chapter 50 (chapter 50), he is even willing to risk his life . (chapter 67) He simply follows his master’s request, as he feels, that’s his duty and lord Lee could ask for his accountability. (chapter 67) Amazing, when you compare it to Kim’s behavior. We could say that the staff does feel responsible for their young master to a certain extent. Why? I believe, they all know that father Lee doesn’t pay attention to his young son and they are now responsible for him. On the other hand, their care is limited, because they are domestics to the mansion. They are not obliged to give him the emotional comfort and the education he needs. As long as there’s no real scandal, then everything is fine in father Lee and the staff’s mind. Remember that in chapter 45, the town folks described the second lead as the “mistress”, showing that even they had noticed the lord’s movements, whereas father Lee has no knowledge about it. (chapter 45) That’s how isolated the father is cut off from reality and world. This is not surprising that his son resembles him, he also lives in his own world.
But what are the consequences of emotional neglect? I would like to quote a passage from a website in French (translated)
It can also be so because a lack of love and human contact hinders its development. In some cases, neglect traps the child in sensory isolation, slowly and continuously undermining his or her mind to the point where there is little desire to connect with others and explore the world. Thus, parental neglect is a terrible absence. http://educationsante.be/article/la-negligence-parentale-est-une-terrible-absence/
Remember how I had described the red-haired noble, before Nameless helped him to become more responsible: I compared him to a blind and deaf person , which corresponds to the expression “sensory isolation”. Back then, I had imagined that he had been abused as well. I was wrong, since it was just neglect which I had already detected. However, the consequences of such a severe neglect are as terrible as abuse. Consequently, abuse and neglect are often considered the same.
Now, I will list how neglect affects the child’s personality (I won’t add to each characteristic a picture):
- Extremely low tolerance for frustration (chapter 13) (chapter 13); aggression (chapter 17)
- Sense of entitlement (chapter 51)
- Lack of appropriate guilt (chapter 59) In chapter 56, Jihwa sent a fake letter reminding Yoon Seungho of his trauma, yet he acts as if the other is to blame and shows no remorse. That’s why many children suffering from emotional neglect have problems with rules and laws.
- Lack of coping skills: Jihwa is unable to accept any rejection or criticism. We could observe this in chapter 5, when the lord sent him away. He didn’t pay attention to the reason why Yoon Seungho couldn’t focus on him.
- Boredom (chapter 9)
- Lack of purpose: This explicates why Jihwa was so obsessed to obtain his friend’s love. Since he has been neglected by his own father, the main lead became his “surrogate” father, who gave him attention because he criticized him and even punished him.
- Blaming others (chapter 57)
- Reduced empathy
- Poor planning skills: When he enters Yoon Seungho’s mansion in chapter 17, he is not able to hide his frustration and starts assaulting the painter so that he creates a ruckus. That’s how Jihwa is caught. As for the kidnapping and murder, he left the whole responsibility on the commoner. He never paid attention to his actions and whereabouts. He believed the criminal and that was it. Sure, Nameless didn’t take advantage from Jihwa, but this shows that he relies too much on others. This is not surprising that the second lead listens to Min’s words and manipulation (chapter 67), although he had lied to him in the past.
- Difficulties with competition: this explains why he uses tricks to act behind the painter’s back.
- Problems withstanding peer pressure quoted from https://www.paracelsus-recovery.com/blog/affluent-neglect/
- Anxiety (chapter 67)
- Low self-esteem
- substance misuse (chapter 50)
- shunning emotional closeness or intimacy: That’s why Jihwa kept waiting for the main lead’s confession. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/childhood-emotional-neglect#symptoms-in-children
The effects of neglect are such that it leaves sequels on so many levels: socially, emotionally, intellectually and psychologically. Children exposed to neglect are at a greater risk of developing conduct disorders and of participating in delinquent behavior, which is visible in the red-haired figure: he trespasses proprieties, ruins a painting, he even had the painter kidnapped. Due to his scheme, the vicious servant Deok-Jae was killed. Then their knowledge and cognitive capacities are diminished, which is also perceptible in the young man. The latter is not able to recognize evil at all, hence he can’t detect hypocrisy and manipulations. And this leads me to the following observation: Byeonduck chose the monkey as an animal for Jihwa. The manhwaphiles can see the singe in the windscreen. (red circle). Because of the character’s previous deafness and blindness, I immediately connected it to the wise 3 monkeys:
In Asia, the monkeys are considered as wise, because they represent proper behavior. Confucius says:
“Look not at what is contrary to propriety, listen not what is contrary to propriety and finally speak not what is contrary to propriety.”
In other words, the 3 monkeys serve as role model. One should behave properly by avoiding any form of evil. Since Min is the Joker, also visible in the windscreen (yellow circle), it explains why Jihwa has become such a bully in the end. Min became his role model replacing the father. Consequently, the red-haired aristocrat can’t recognize evil. That’s why Lee Jihwa appeared as a spoiled child with a delinquent behavior in the end. Byeonduck is displaying the extreme consequences of a father’s the absence. And this leads me to the next question: what is the role of a father in the end?
“The function of the father is to separate the child from the mother. He must intervene between the mother and the child to allow the child to develop his identity outside the maternal symbiosis” from https://www.psycho-ressources.com/bibli/fonction-pere.html
And now, the manhwaphiles comprehend why the red-haired noble has such a low self-esteem. (chapter 67) This is is visible in this panel. The character can’t even stand. Min, the Joker and surrogate father, treats Jihwa as his servant and punishes him, because he had not followed his order. Jihwa has not entirely developed his identity, since he has always lived in his own limited world. A father has not only to provide security and comfort, he helps the child to learn self-control and boundaries. A father is associated to rules and should teach his child how to channel aggressivity. In other words, he serves as a role model for the child. But with the absence of a father, this is impossible. And since the domestics belong to the lower social class, Lee Jihwa always had the upper hand and could do anything: his father never appeared, when Jihwa was destroying his room with his sword in chapter 21. Besides, father Lee never paid attention to the friends his son had. He blames Yoon Seungho for his son’s debauchery, yet at no moment he intervened in the past. The main lead is correct to blame the father and put his son in a different light. (chapter 67) And now, the readers can understand the role Nameless is slowly taking over: he will be the father and lover teaching him how to recognize evil and even think critically. We saw Jihwa rejecting Min’s advice (chapter 67), but it was short-lived due to Yoon Seungho’s appearance. We have to assume that Yoon Seungho played the role of the father after the former had been abandoned by his own father. However, he could never assume this function properly, as he was suffering himself and couldn’t give him the emotional and educational comfort Jihwa needed. Let’s not forget that the protagonist chose to ignore his own feelings, to even numb them. Hence it was impossible for them to connect emotionally.
After discerning Father Lee’s behavior, I could easily portray father Yoon, who stands in opposition to father Lee. He is a controlling father using his sons as his pawns and tools for his own career. Here, I gathered the characteristics for a controlling parent:
- Interfering in nearly every aspect of the child’s life.
- Criticizing any choice a child tries to make independently.
- High, truly unattainable standards.
- Conditional love.
- Rigid (and unrealistic) rules.
- Lack of empathy and respect.
- Unreasonably harsh punishment. 8.
- Lack of appreciation for the child’s individuality.
- Expecting the child to act like a parent.
- Manipulation through gifts.
- Playing on guilt and/or shame. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/signs-of-controlling-parents-and-how-to-cope-as-adult
This explicates why Yoon Seungho had been longing to see admiration and love in his father’s gaze, always hoping that at some point he would get it. The existence of the rules I elaborated is a proof of this abusive parent. And now, you understand why Father Yoon described his eldest son as ill, suffering from wayward yang. (chapter 57) “wayward” is a synonym for rebellious indicating that Yoon Seungho had started questioning his father’s behavior and words. Simultaneously, I believe that the father judged his son’s behavior as too childish, thus he said that he had been suffering from an illness for a long time. The adolescence represents an important step in the child’s development. That’s the moment when a teenager decides to take his distance from his father in order to find his own identity. Since the main lead was described as intelligent, it was normal that the main character would decide to make his own decision and could sense his father’s flaws. Consequently father Yoon could only see the critical remarks as a sign of insubordination. This is not surprising that he blamed his son, when something happened due to Jihwa. (chapter 67) Since Father Lee never paid attention to his own son’s behavior, the former was more than pleased to hear that Yoon Seungho was responsible for an incident. Father Lee was following the rule:
But unlike before, this is the Western interpretation: he acts as if he doesn’t see evil or hear evil. He will never talk badly about his son. That way, he escapes any responsibility for his son’s failures. But like Confucius wrote:
“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them”.
From my point of view, father Lee will pay a huge price for his negligence due to his son. I saw in the chapter 67 a confirmation that Jihwa will cause a huge tragedy which ends with a terrible punishment. It is getting more probable that Jihwa will lose his title as noble (chapter 67) and it is even possible that he gets a scar or a tattoo. (chapter 67) This scene was important as it represented a new version of chapter 18. This time, the lord aimed at Jihwa’s face and the servant was not harmed. The main lead put the whole responsibility on the former friend.
But since I had described the role played by the servants in the Lee mansion, it is also important to take a look at the domestic’s function, when father Yoon was the master of the house. What caught my attention is that father Yoon has been also represented like a ghost, very similar to father Lee. However, while the latter represents lack of interests for the son, the other stands in opposition to this. He is everywhere due to his servants. All of them were asked to pay attention to his children and their behavior. In other words, he is also absent. The domestics must have reported him everything. And now, you can understand why Yoon Seungho kept his distance from his staff as the lord of the mansion. He didn’t want to be observed by them, that’s why he relied more on Kim in the end. With his help, he could maintain a certain gap and escape their “monitoring”. There is another evidence for this theory: remember that Yoon Seungho asked his servants through Kim to pay a closer look at Baek Na-Kyum, but they didn’t take his request very seriously. Hence the painter could escape the mansion in chapter 29. And you all know that the artist is reliving the noble’s past. This explicates why Yoon Seungho targeted the amateur spy in chapter 18, he was reminded of his own past. He could only get furious.
However, there’s another huge difference in the role played by Father Yoon’s servants. Since they only had to report to him, that means that they didn’t need to take any responsibility, as the lord was the one who made all the decisions afterwards. And now, you understand why Kim rejects any form of responsibility by saying (chapter 65). Father Yoon put a lot of trust in valet Kim in the end, as he relied on his information. This is another evidence for me that Kim is responsible for the main lead’s suffering. Since father Yoon was relying on Kim’s eyes and ears, his perception got changed and this in a negative way. That’s how he became blind. He contributed to the terror ruling at the mansion, but since Kim was kind and caring, Yoon Seungho believed this illusion, while Kim was his biggest spy. I am quite sure that he played a major role, when Yoon Seungho got separated from Lee Jihwa and received his reeducation therapy. For me, there’s no doubt that his responsibility kept getting bigger, when he saw the main lead getting raped, and he decided to close the door and ignore the incident. He just needed to say that this was not his business. Another possibility is that he could justify his choice by saying that it was done for the main lead’s best interest. Let’s not forget that Kim was the one who presented the physician to father Yoon. (chapter 57) There’s no doubt that father Yoon put all his trust in Kim. This explicates why Kim acts, as if he had the authority to give orders. (chapter 67) He must have developed this habit, because father Yoon gave him some power. Observe that he sometimes dresses like a noble (chapter 57) due to the hat and the robe. What caught my attention is that he acts behind his lord’s back, when the latter is absent. (chapter 68) Besides, since this story is based on the principe that history keeps repeating itself, then Yoon Seungho is making the same mistake like his father. However, Yoon Seungho will realize it thanks to the painter and the head-maid. Father Yoon put all his trust in his valet, unable to recognize evil in his butler. Just a reminder:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” from Edmund Burke
This is not just about silence and passivity, it is also about responsibility. Note that in chapter 67, Kim voices that he has been given the permission (chapter 67), so he is not assuming anything in case something happens. And in front of Heena noona and Baek Na-Kyum, he has the same attitude: (chapter 67) if Heena noona gets caught, then they can’t put the blame on him. He will feign ignorance. He has no idea how she entered the mansion. He is also applying the saying from the three monkeys:
He didn’t see or hear anything. He won’t tattle too. Nonetheless, he is acting only like that, when it concerns Yoon Seungho. It is a different story, when it comes to father Yoon. That’s why Kim still keeps thinking about his previous master. (chapter 57) By examining Kim again, I have to admit that I suddenly had this question: who gave the painting to Yoon Seung-Won? Did the valet act on the lord’s order? (chapter 37) Or did he decide to act on his own? Let’s not forget that during that evening, the valet had been reprimanded by Yoon Seung-Won for lying to him. It is possible that the valet chose to give the painting in order to put the blame on Yoon Seungho, as he feared that the young master could report his lie and behavior to father Yoon. The latter might not be present at the mansion, but there’s no doubt that he asked his trusted servant to keep an eye on his eldest son, whom he considered as a troublemaker. This would explain why the main lead keeps taking the medicine. And now, you can grasp why Kim is more loyal to father Yoon than his actual master. The latter gives him more freedom, yet he expects from him more responsibility. Under the ruling of father Yoon, the butler could avoid any trouble by tattling on the young master Yoon Seungho or by faking ignorance, when it was necessary. Since father Yoon put all his trust in the valet, he was not able to see evil or hear evil in the end. Kim framed innocents or he feigned ignorance. As a conclusion, Father Yoon was put in the same situation than father Lee due to Kim’s actions.
As a final conclusion, Byeonduck’s work exposes the huge importance of a father in a child’s development. Unfortunately many people still think that mothers are much more important than fathers. This explicates why in many countries, mothers receive more often custody of their child than fathers. Yet, the judges seldom question the mother’s abilities. The irony is that mothers are not per se good mothers, exactly like Stromae described it in his song, although he only talked about fathers: “Mister “know-it-all” would’ve inherited it, is that it? Does it come from sucking our thumbs, or what”. This applies to mothers as well. Being a parent means work, dedication and affection. There’s nothing intuitive.
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