Do you know that cats a very conscient beings? Famous English painter William Holman Hunt knew this when he created the true version of his iconic masterpiece “The Awakening Conscience”:
What is happening in the painting?
Actually, it’s a 19th-century #MeToo story
A so-called gentleman has installed his mistress (known to be such because of her absence of a wedding ring) in a house for their meetings and made the girl sit on his lap. The girl, her turn, made her fat cat sit on her lap to sweeten the unpleasant situation.
The painting is full of symbolic elements. A man’s discarded glove warns that the likely fate of a cast-off mistress was prostitution. His stretched hand points at the cat’s body part corresponding to the man’s part that governs his behavior. Please note that the noble beast is relieved from his animal desires, but the man is unfortunately not.
The cat toying with the broken-winged bird under the table symbolizes the woman’s plight.
A tangled skein of yarn on the floor symbolizes the web in which the girl is entrapped, a cat is needed to perform the noble task of untangling it!
As the human couple plays and sings to Thomas Moore’s Oft in the Stilly Night, the girl has a sudden spiritual revelation. Rising from her lover’s lap, she makes her fat cat lose his balance. She gazes into the sunlit garden beyond, which is reflected in the mirror behind her. The mirror image represents the woman’s lost innocence, but redemption, indicated by the ray of light in the foreground, is still possible. Suddenly, the cat notices a fat pigeon seen in the garden through the window.
The cat has an immediate revelation: “I’ll go and catch this pigeon to feed my helpless human and will do the same every day, and thus she wouldn’t need this boring noisy man. We’ll get rid of this useless creature!”
You see, the cat is the game changer!
Please have a look at the commonly known version of the painting in the Tate Gallery, London:
But the underlying spiritual message of the true version was generally ignored by most critics, who concentrated instead on the more sensational aspects of the composition.
The heartbroken artist created a new version without a cat
But how, for dog’s sake, can the girl manage her life challenges without a cat?
Thus speaks Zarathustra the Cat