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The idea of being an outsider or not belonging lies at the core of Munch's painting. This becomes evident when considering the poem that Munch composed to go along with the painting:
I was walking along the road with two Friends / the Sun was setting – The Sky turned a bloody red / And I felt a whiff of Melancholy – I stood / Still, deathly tired – over the blue-black / Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire / My Friends walked on – I remained behind / – shivering with Anxiety – I felt the great Scream in Nature.
The language in the poem reflects the idea of not belonging. Munch is walking with two friends. They move on and he remains to ponder the landscape. The feeling of "the great Scream in nature" is something that he alone experiences. He does not belong with his friends who are able to move past the moment. They are not attuned to the moment, and Munch is. In Munch's sensitivity to the instant, he is "shivering with Anxiety." This helps to communicate the backdrop of not belonging, of remaining as an outsider. Munch communicates this in the painting through the agonizing condition in which the subject is placed. The viewer's eyes glance across the backdrop that seems to move in a manner that is opposite of the subject, reflecting a disconnect that shows a lack of belonging.
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