The sun rises upon more drama by the seaside. The upside-down hanging of the tarot is a form of public humiliation rather than the public execution that takes place in the song “You and Me, Bess,” but it is a punishment all the same.
Like II. Divers, XII shows the duality created by the “laws of the land.” The seaside town in the West opposes Bess in the East. One represents rules and civilization, the other represents freedom and wildness. In between the two, the hanged horse-thief loses both freedom and carefully-collected provisions. She is in a predicament, beaten up by the ocean and stuck as tightly as the snail shells clamped to the posts.
Human society and Nature each have their own punishments, one the gallows and the other the laughing gulls. The first is specific, the second is haphazard. But Bess, whose simple animal nature gets the narrator caught in the first place, is able to escape the consequences. Running free outside the borders, she brings hope to this gloomy card.