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The Scream, Society, and the Common Man

Uploaded by Enirambus on May 21, 2002

Existentialist philosophy at first may appear to be at odds with the everyday world; however, existentialism has some very real applications in the context of society as opposed to the context of existence. Society gives us a role in life, something to give our lives meaning, but what happens when we look too closely at our role and reconsider it? What happens when we ask, “why?” “The Scream” by Edvard Munch is the answer. While not everyone in society feels like the man portrayed in Munch’s painting, a growing number of people do, and it is expressed in numerous ways through our society today. A plethora of evidence supports this assertion; from modern societal organization and alienation to specific examples of incidents caused by this “Scream”, to specific works in pop culture. Existentialism spawned from an expanding society, and will only become more relevant as the size of our society increases.

“The Scream” portrays an image of a man on the foreground of a bridge, an unrealistically slanted bridge with two shadowed figures behind him. He has his hands clasped to the sides of his head, engaged in a pure scream for no apparent reason. Munch’s poem narrating the work:

I was walking along the road with two friends.
The sun was setting.
I felt a breath of melancholy -
Suddenly the sky turned blood-red.
I stopped, and leaned against the railing, deathly tired -
looking out across the flaming clouds that hung like blood and a sword
over the blue-black fjord and town.
My friends walked on - I stood there, trembling with fear.
And I sensed a great, infinite scream pass through nature.


The reason for the man’s great scream is intentionally ambiguous, indeed it seems as if there is no reason besides a sudden feeling that came over him. Indeed, he was walking with his friends, a time of supposed happiness! That is what this painting represents, not something terrible, not something evil and awful, but something that is intrinsic to the subject which causes fear- everything may seem just fine, and it very well may be from a native perspective, but this painting makes one think: Why is everything the way it is, and should it be that way? Analyzing this painting from a societal standpoint, it is a strong criticism of the pointlessness of our roles in society, our little cliques and niches, the drudgery of our jobs…...

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Uploaded by:   Enirambus

Date:   05/21/2002

Category:   Art And Music

Length:   5 pages (1,202 words)

Views:   1520

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