What makes the painting seem balanced in Wood's American Gothic?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there is a great deal of balance that Wood was able to strike in American Gothic.I think that the Dibble House used as the backdrop is in its own right very balanced.  The structural design of the house emphasized a symmetry of economy that helps to establish a background that is already balanced.  The couple in the foreground of the picture also represents balance in that they are situated in what appears to be the middle of the house and the view of it.  The second floor window above the couple provides a viewing point of balance in that it appears to drop down right in the middle of both individuals.  In terms of the couple themselves, Wood seems to be dividing the painting in half with their attention, again with balanced point of reference being the pitchfork.  Their facial expressions strike balance within the viewer as both seem to be indicating that the pose for the portrait is not the primary focus present.  The stern look of the farmer and the distracted look of the wife hit a note of balance in that the viewer understands that the central point of focus in each does not seem to be the painting.  Over the left shoulder of the woman and the right shoulder of the man exists some other aspect of the farm, whether it's the porch or part of the barn and this serves to accomplish achieving another point of balance in the painting.

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