Something is horribly wrong. The young woman rises from her anxious lover's lap. With eyes wide-open and parted lips, she dazedly looks into an uncertain, perhaps imaginary distance. The gentleman extends his arm and obstructs her movement upward. He makes a desperate attempt to persuade her; his lips suggest, "Oh please, come on and sit down." The woman ignores him. As if holding onto her dignity, the young woman's hands are tightly clutched. She is completely caught up in her moment of illumination: my behavior is immoral and must change my ways.

Similar to a photograph, Hunt's painting captures a split second in time. His composition isolates the exact, dramatic instance of the young woman's conversion. although the modern scenery creates a secular mood, Hunt's painting nevertheless contains a spiritual message. Taking into consideration Hunt's own religiosity, the paintings synthesis of realism and symbolism attempts to convey higher powers, God, at work. The juxtaposition between the seductive male aggressor and the morally weak woman reflects the Christian idea of redemption through the eradication of sin and temptation.

Questions

1. How does Hunt's painting relate to the satirical artworks characteristic of Hogarth?

2. Does Hunt's composition suggest a didactic message of Christianity?

3. What is the significance of the mirror and its reflection?


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Last modified 26 September 2006