The Bottle by Cruikshank is a series of illustrations exploring the consequences of alcoholism. The scenes in this series capture the life of a family affected by alcohol addiction. In the third scene, the family is forced to give up personal belongings and furniture due to execution. This particular scene is interesting because it is the first plate with a visibly different background. The focal point of this illustration is the blank space in the middle, which was covered by pictures and furniture in the two previous scenes. The directional force then guides the attention to the main heroes of this story. The family is distraught, the children are scared, and the parents are seen holding a bottle and a wine glass. Then, the direction moves to the main action in this scene, the three men collecting furniture.
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Most of the characters of this illustration are situated in the middle ground. The color of the family’s clothes is significantly darker than in previous plates, creating a grim tone. The shades also seem to appear darker than before. A strong contrast between a light background and a dark middle ground creates the feeling of emptiness and despondency. The furniture is moved to a different position, completely changing the composition of previous illustrations. For example, the painting that was hanging on the wall is now on the floor. Moreover, in this scene, the family is restricted to one corner, which can be interpreted as the family being entrapped by alcohol dependence.
The third scene of The Bottle illustrations can be considered a turning point in the series regarding composition. While the second scene mostly changed the character placement, this illustration also has a different background. The following plates depict the family in different surroundings and continue to alter the appearance of the room. However, the third scene is the first one to move from small changes to an entirely different composition.