Scream Essay, Research Paper

Edvard Munch s The Scream was painted in the end of the 19th century, and is possibly the first Expressionist painting. The Scream was very different from the art of the time, when many artists tried to depict objective reality. Munch was a tortured soul, and it certainly showed in this painting. Most of his family had died, and he was often plagued by sickness. The Scream was not a reflection of what was going on at the time, but rather, Munch s own inner hell. It visualizes a desperate aspect of fin-de-si cle: anxiety and apocalypse. The persuasiveness of the motif shows that it also speaks to our day and age (Whaley 75 ).

When Edvard Munch was asked what had inspired him to do this painting, he replied, One evening I was walking along a path, the city on one side of me and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out across the fjord. The sun was setting, the clouds were turning blood red. I felt a scream passing through nature. It seemed to me that I could hear The Scream. I painted this picture; painted the clouds as real blood. The colors screamed (Preble 52).

Some people, when they look at this painting, only see a person screaming. They see the pretty blend of colors, but don t actually realize what they are looking at. A lone emaciated figure halts on a bridge clutching his ears, his eyes and mouth open wide in a scream of anguish. Behind him a couple are walking together in the opposite direction. Barely discernible in the swirling motion of a red-blood sunset and deep blue-black fjord, are tiny boats at sea, and the suggestion of town buildings ( Preble 53).

This painting was definitely the first of its kind, the first Expressionist painting. People say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that s the case, then The Scream is worth a million. It has a message that no other painting of its time had. Edvard Munch was pouring out his soul onto the canvas. What we see here, is a glimpse of what Munch was really like inside. When we really look at the painting, we understand what the artist was feeling at the time, because it captures nothing but human emotion. It creates a similar mood in us for a brief moment. The man screaming in the picture seems to feel like he s going insane, and that the world is getting to be too much for him. The two people walking away from him possibly mean that the man feels left out of everything, or that he doesn t fit in with the rest of the world. Maybe he needs help, and his friends weren t there for him. The piece of artwork speaks better than actual words to describe it, which makes it something spectacular.

Long after Munch died, the painting remains, and people are still amazed with it. Why? Because art is all about expressing raw human emotion, and this painting captures it perfectly. People are scared of things they don t understand or cannot relate to. Everyone can relate to what this piece expresses, and that is why it s so popular.


Birren, Faber. History of Color in Painting, With New Principles of Color Expression. New York: Rheinhold Pub., 1965.

Preble, Hans Peter. Expressionism. Trans. Mary Whittall. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Whaley, Doug. Edvard Munch- Father of Expressionism: A Study In Existential Philosophy. New York: Anchor Books, 1973.

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