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Discontentful Gloom

Edward Hopper’s famous Nighthawks (1942) ignites a sense of melancholy which is also revealed in Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-Lighted Place.”  The painting gives off a feel of loneliness, as you see the man sits alone in a late night bar for a drink.  There is a contrast in the lighting of the painting, as the bar is the only place that is giving off light, whereas the rest of the surrounding is shutdown and asleep in the darkness.

The painting is much different from the ‘newly modern, electrified, urban world,’ as Manhattan is known to be busy and full of light.  The night time in fact is the liveliest and well lit time in the cities like Manhattan- however, here we see an inactive urban environment that is quiet, clean, and dark.  This is contrary to what most people would view city life.

The gloom that penetrates this picture brings a sense of curiosity as to what exactly the author tries to portray here.  The three customers at this bar seem to be well off, but at the same time dissatisfied with life- there is a sense of unhappiness.  The bar being the only place lit reveals that this place is the only place that these people find a sense of hope or satisfaction in their hectic dissatisfying lives.  The proper and clean environment gives off a sense of order in the picture- a type of constrained order in which the people are forced to live by in discontent.

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~ by renyvarughese on November 17, 2010.

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