This study attempts to address the patterns and poetic orientation of ‘Stigma’ revealed in 『Chungmasicho』 and 『Sangmyeongeuiseo』, poets by Yoo Chi-Hwan, with emphasis on Nussbaum’s theory of shame. Stigma is usually done to others in order to conceal his/her own shame or to get rid of a fear about an incomplete self. However, Yoo Chi-Hwan was trying to introspect his self or transform his existence by stigmatizing himself. The text of a stigma, realized by aesthetics of symbols, is a unique property of the poetry of Yoo Chi-Hwan, which cannot be fully understood with the approach of life.
In his poem, ‘Cain’s Descendant’ not only represents the negative lineage, inherited to him, but also the most evident stigma, made as a sort of guilty conscience. The stigma of Cain is an imagery of the ethical shame, inherited to generations, but its meaning, of original shame, could extend further to the existence of an incomplete human being. Especially, the method of inheriting sadness and sorrow is the ground that Yoo Chi-Hwan accepted the fundamental incompleteness of human being as a sorrow-but-inevitable fate for every human being. The approach of expanding an incomplete self to an incomplete human being through the inherited shame is a distinctive feature of Yoo Chi-Hwan.
A stigma, meant for a fallen animal, is a way of self-punishment based on self-deprecation. ‘Falling’ and ‘animal’ are symbols chosen to rationalize his self-deprecation. He punished himself by expressing the animals abandoned, concealed, or lost. Especially, wings are a symbol of the heaven so the wings of fallen animals represent the confinement to the earth, which is another expression of punishment. The punishment for shame aims at psychological indulgence. By punishing his feeling of shame, he is trying to approve his moral value by himself.
‘Sick being’ is a manifestation of being useless, which is the self-diagnosis of being fallen into being worthless, and an instrument of stigmatization. For Yoo Chi-Hwan, pursuing life as the highest value, being sick works as a sort of criterion for judging an worthless being. The fact that he consistently stigmatizing ill beings paradoxically reveals that he is pursuing his own dignity since shame, a criteria of being worthless, is originated from self-dignity.
Yoo Chi-Hwan is trying to inspect the essence of human existence using symbolic stigmas and to enhance himself as a more valuable being. Since shame causes a significant pain of looking into its own weaknesses, people generally try to conceal or avoid it, but not Yoo Chi-Hwan.
On the contrary, he uses the feeling of shame as his source of energy to explore the meaning of existence in his poetry. The pattern of stigma not only effectively presents the direction of his poetry, but also becomes an aesthetics factor, contributing to the establishment of his unique poetry world.