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The Oval Portrait Analysis



Author: Prose of Edgar Allen Poe Type: Prose Views: 6834

THE CHATEAU into which my valet had ventured to make forcible entrance, rather than permit me, in my desperately wounded condition, to pass a night in the open air, was one of those piles of commingled gloom and grandeur which have so long frowned among the Appennines, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Radcliffe. To all appearance it had been temporarily and very lately abandoned. We established ourselves in one of the smallest and least sumptuously furnished apartments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. Its decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique. Its walls were hung with tapestry and bedecked with manifold and multiform armorial trophies, together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque. In these paintings, which depended from the walls not only in their main surfaces, but in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of the chateau rendered necessary- in these paintings my incipient delirium, perhaps, had caused me to take deep interest; so that I bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters of the room- since it was already night- to light the tongues of a tall candelabrum which stood by the head of my bed- and to throw open far and wide the fringed curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed itself. I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to sleep, at least alternately to the contemplation of these pictures, and the perusal of a small volume which had been found upon the pillow, and which purported to criticise and describe them.
Long- long I read- and devoutly, devotedly I gazed. Rapidly and gloriously the hours flew by and the deep midnight came. The position of the candelabrum displeased me, and outreaching my hand with difficulty, rather than disturb my slumbering valet, I placed it so as to throw its rays more fully upon the book.
But the action produced an effect altogether unanticipated. The rays of the numerous candles (for there were many) now fell within a niche of the room which had hitherto been thrown into deep shade by one of the bed-posts. I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood. I glanced at the painting hurriedly, and then closed my eyes. Why I did this was not at first apparent even to my own perception. But while my lids remained thus shut, I ran over in my mind my reason for so shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought- to make sure that my vision had not deceived me- to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain gaze. In a very few moments I again looked fixedly at the painting.
That I now saw aright I could not and would not doubt; for the first flashing of the candles upon that canvas had seemed to dissipate the dreamy stupor which was stealing over my senses, and to startle me at once into waking life.
The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done in what is technically termed a vignette manner; much in the style of the favorite heads of Sully. The arms, the bosom, and even the ends of the radiant hair melted imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the back-ground of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded and filigreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself. But it could have been neither the execution of the work, nor the immortal beauty of the countenance, which had so suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person. I saw at once that the peculiarities of the design, of the vignetting, and of the frame, must have instantly dispelled such idea- must have prevented even its momentary entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon these points, I remained, for an hour perhaps, half sitting, half reclining, with my vision riveted upon the portrait. At length, satisfied with the true secret of its effect, I fell back within the bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute life-likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, finally confounded, subdued, and appalled me. With deep and reverent awe I replaced the candelabrum in its former position. The cause of my deep agitation being thus shut from view, I sought eagerly the volume which discussed the paintings and their histories. Turning to the number which designated the oval portrait, I there read the vague and quaint words which follow:
"She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and having already a bride in his Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee; all light and smiles, and frolicsome as the young fawn; loving and cherishing all things; hating only the Art which was her rival; dreading only the pallet and brushes and other untoward instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover. It was thus a terrible thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of his desire to pourtray even his young bride. But she was humble and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark, high turret-chamber where the light dripped upon the pale canvas only from overhead. But he, the painter, took glory in his work, which went on from hour to hour, and from day to day. And be was a passionate, and wild, and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that he would not see that the light which fell so ghastly in that lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly to all but him. Yet she smiled on and still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter (who had high renown) took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak. And in sooth some who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in low words, as of a mighty marvel, and a proof not less of the power of the painter than of his deep love for her whom he depicted so surpassingly well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its conclusion, there were admitted none into the turret; for the painter had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and turned his eyes from canvas merely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. And he would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him. And when many weeks bad passed, and but little remained to do, save one brush upon the mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again flickered up as the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the brush was given, and then the tint was placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought; but in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid, and aghast, and crying with a loud voice, 'This is indeed Life itself!' turned suddenly to regard his beloved:- She was dead!





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

i read this because my techer made me..but it stinks

| Posted on 2012-10-17 | by a guest


.: :.

this is the worst poem i have ever read. what a waste of time. good on ya Poe ya flamin galah

| Posted on 2012-07-28 | by a guest


.: :.

Poe is a very complex writer. To understand his story one has to understand the underlying theme\'s of the story and what Poe normally writes about. Please note that this is obviously a story within a story.
Themes:
It has the theme of life vs art and ties in the complexity of aestheticism.
There is the rivalry of wife vs the art.
There is also the imbalance of trying to create lifelike art.
About the author: Poe had a theory that the most tragic universal event is the death of a beautiful, young woman.
Poe also created the painter to have the form of monomania (the single psychological obsession in a perfectly sane mind). The painter is addicted to art, but otherwise he seems fine. This means that he reliable which we do not get in most of Poe\'s stories.

| Posted on 2011-10-23 | by a guest


.: :.

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

| Posted on 2011-08-24 | by a guest


.: :.

whoot, this story made my head ache understanding it!! took me around 5 rounds of reading it before realizing its message. anyway, i\'m 15 and i will try and giv MY anlysis. the story is, well as they say, a framed story. i dont hav a clue about who is reading it but the reader saw the label( or book?) behind the drawing. he read it and it was all about a painter who loved arts more than his own wife. 1 day he wanted to make a portrait of his wife. day after day, his wife weakened more and more. when the painter finished his work. he just then realized that his wife is more beautiful than the painting. but it was too late, she is dead. lesson learned: value all the things around you. because nothing lasts forever.

| Posted on 2010-12-13 | by a guest


.: :.

By first reading this story I didn\'t really understand it at all! But Edgar Allan Poe is such a great writer. So I read it again and I loved it. In my opinion the meaning is: never take anything for granted. Because it fades. You don\'t get anything if you don\'t care for it or don\'t fight for it. He was so obsessed of painting that he didn\'t realize what happened in real life. When he recognized it it was too late. So don\'t let time pass by live it!!!

| Posted on 2010-11-27 | by a guest


.: :.

By first reading this story I didn\'t really understand it at all! But Edgar Allan Poe is such a great writer. So I read it again and I loved it. In my opinion the meaning is: never take anything for granted. Because it fades. You don\'t get anything if you don\'t care for it or don\'t fight for it. He was so obsessed of painting that he didn\'t realize what happened in real life. When he recognized it it was too late. So don\'t let time pass by live it!!!

| Posted on 2010-11-27 | by a guest


.: :.

I think the main point of the story is that one can get consumed by things in life that are distractions from the real joys in life. The painter was so consumed by his work that he did not appreciate the beauty of his wife. It was not until he frinished the painting and realized that it was not the painting that was beautiful, it was his wife. When he went to tell he, she was dead. I.e. don't let life pass you by.

| Posted on 2010-04-11 | by a guest


.: :.

i don't understand how people my age can be so illiterate. i am 17 and i think poe was an amazing writer. although i do feel that the beginning of this particular story was a bit slow, the rest of it entices you. the woman who is so deeply in love with the painter that she would rather just be with him even if she is not loved back; what a beautiful story. Also, in the book of poe compositions in which i originally this story, they paired the story with pictures that they felt went with the story and for the narrator they used a man in his late 50's. i assume, therefore, that the narrator is in fact a man.

| Posted on 2010-01-02 | by a guest


.: :.

This is a story inside a story, at first there is a person (girl i presume) who is seriously marred. She breaks into an old appartment and is resting on a bed, reading a book, the candle she is using displeases her because she is not getting enough light. When she moves the candle and she sees an old painting she did not notice at first it contains an extreme beauty and she is intrested in it. She retrieves a book that of witch depicts the painting and describes its origins.
In this book she reads about how a beautiful youong lady is married by an amazing artist he paints her for several weeks when he is finished he yells 'This is indeed Life itself! I believe that he painted her into the picture. And by this killed her.

| Posted on 2009-10-31 | by a guest


.: :.

Poe is a magnificent writer. You kids who cannot see the passion in his writing need to read Poe in order to appreciate literature in all forms, and to understand the brilliance behind different styles of writing. *Sigh someday you'll understand* We are forced to do things in life we don't want to. Stop whining, get over it and enjoy it, especially if you have to read it anyway.

| Posted on 2009-10-26 | by a guest


.: :.

I enjoyed reading this story each time I read it,I get more and more closer in to the core. Each time a new question opens up. I would recommend to read this story from the age of 13& to adults.

| Posted on 2009-10-21 | by a guest


.: :.

i read this story about 9 times..at first i didnt understand it, but after a while i began to appreciate the ture meaning of it. When i read it at first, i thought that it was from a womans perspective- because of the depth of emotion and how he/she viewed and interpretted things. But then i read some reviews online, and most people say its a man...im sorta confused. whats your opinion?? what perspective do you think it is from??
The wife is in love with the painter, but he has only room in his heart for art. so she deludes herself into thinking he loves her, because he wants to paint her- atleast hes looking in her general direction when hes trying to copy her image onto the canvas. in the end, as she slowly fades away, he captures her essence and life and paints it onto the canvas. so pretty much- he was killing her and she didnt care.

| Posted on 2009-08-04 | by a guest


.: :.

why don't you like the story? simply because you did not fully understand the true meaning of this story? first of all if you don't understand the words you must try to find the meaning. second you must not judge a story at first. if you really had a hard time understanding it it must serve as a challenge for you to comprehend the story. actually this story is quite cute and so sad. if you really don't understand please try to read it once more. don't judge it while reading it for the first time.

| Posted on 2009-06-18 | by a guest


.: :.

for all you haters.. this short story is awesome i'm 13 and i UNDERSTAND IT! you simply need to read the story and analyze every detail. Also looking up the meaning of words isn't so bad either. Poe's writing gives many details on the feeling of the characters, setting, and much more. So really he's a genius of been able to write this.

| Posted on 2009-05-27 | by a guest


.: :.

I didn't really like or understand any of poes material until i read this story. I love it!
I believe that this story is about a wounded solider howm takes refgue in an abondond house, here he findes a picture of a beautiful woman, he is so intruiged by this picture. he stumbles across a book that details the history of the painting. Turns out that the woman in the painting is married to the painter. He loves painting more htan her. she argees alows him to paint a portrait of her because she wants his atention and loves him. Her envy and hatred for his love of painting eats away at her and every stroke of the brush takes just that little bit more of her life, until after weeks of her sitting in a dark dreary room , he is finnished the portrait. he is so pleased with his work. He looks toward his wife an realises that she is dead. He has drained every last breath from her with every stroke of the bursh.
I Believe that the moral here is not to take advntage of loved ones, because once you loose something you may never get it back.

| Posted on 2009-05-12 | by a guest


.: :.

i hated this story... stupid... but the guy put all effort into makin it popular so what the heck... just make the best of it in english class...

| Posted on 2009-04-14 | by a guest


.: :.

i chose this story for English class, and we had to breake it down into little bits of the story... i am 16 and this story is older and hard for me to understand, compared to what im used to.
and the deeper i got into the story the more i realized how this story can relate to people of any age that can read it,,.. yes some words are abit confusing but they can eazy to understand if u look and find what they mean.
xx peace

| Posted on 2009-03-02 | by a guest


.: :.

bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad nobody likes this

| Posted on 2009-02-19 | by a guest


.: :.

guys this doesnt make any sense. i am 14 too and i have to read it for school plus 6 more of his stories. i hate this! k thanks poe. you made me read these. wow.

| Posted on 2009-01-02 | by a guest


.: :.

Poe saw one of the greatest tragedies as being the death of a beautiful woman, and he sought to convey it in his stories and poems. This was his purpose in writing this story.

| Posted on 2008-11-30 | by a guest


.: :.

There is so much more to this story. Other areas to look at: woman's obedience to her husband, Mary (maiden)vs. Eve (Art) rivalry, obsession, fetishes, voyeurism... it is endless. Look deeply. It is a great short story.

| Posted on 2008-11-18 | by a guest


.: :.

I love Poe!
He is one of the most brilliant authors and this story is one of my favorites of his.

| Posted on 2008-11-13 | by a guest


.: :.

this isn't shit.
it greatly represents the tragic consequence of destruction through creation.
and 14 year olds shouldn't swear so much.
maybe wait until you're passed your pubescent stages of life thankyou.

| Posted on 2008-11-09 | by a guest


.: :.

i couldnt evn fckn pronounce half the damn words wtf is this college sht im 14 an i gotta write about this shit

| Posted on 2008-10-31 | by a guest


.: :.

this story .. regardly is nice . its too depressing .
i sware i hate edgar alan poe ..
if anyone want to talk to x god sake .. this is the worst story i hd evr read .. god now im with headache :S
and please, dont tell me anyone liked this shit!!

| Posted on 2008-10-19 | by a guest


.: :.

The main character only has eyes on painting, which led to not noticing his wifes illness. But the wife didn't hesitate, instead she let him paint her until she utterly kills herself for his selfish needs.

| Posted on 2008-10-15 | by a guest


.: :.

The man is not injured as in hurt, rather than drunk!

| Posted on 2008-10-14 | by a guest


.: :.

The best part of the story is how it ends. The artist cries out "this is life itself!" rather than what I think many would consider the expected...something like the artist bemoaning his lost love, chastising himself for his obsession or any other type of "lesson learned". Perhaps the reason is that the artist in this story may not have learned in any lesson at all. The painting is, after all, riveting, lauded by many and apparently so fascinating as to keep the attention of a feverishly sick individual.
Individuals who pursue career over life, love, family, etc, traditionaly do so at the sacrifice of these very things. I like the ending because rather than having the artist tell the audience that such pursuits are wrong we are left to learn our own lesson, if any at all. Is such a monumental achievement as this painting worth the sacrifice of love and human life? That you may be saying to yourself right now "of course not!" should tell you a great deal about what you value. For those consumed by a passionate pursuit of perfection in a chosen field, does this story make you cringe at the possible lengths one might go to reach the top? Or does it sit just fine? After all, it is the girls choice to sit for the artist. Further, her portrayal as childish, silly, etc, makes it highly unlikely that, left to her own devices, her life would ever result in any lasting achievement or contribution to later generations as this artist has given.
My favorite stories are these, rather than telling us how to live, they simply give a glimpse into where the finality of individual steps might lead and cause us to ask "are we really headed where we think and are the sacrifices that might be required worth it?"

| Posted on 2008-10-02 | by a guest


.: :.

This story not only represents perfectionism, it also depicts a beautifully tragic picture of the way women were supposed to respond to their husbands in this time period. The wife in this story detested her husbands art, she was constantly fighting the art for his attention. When he asked her to sit for him so that he could use his art to enjoy his wife, she probably thought this was the only way she could have any interaction with her husband. And over the weeks, even though she was very outwardly showing the signs of illness and death, he never noticed. He never took any notice of her at all, really, he was so wrapped up in creating a beautiful portrait. And the poetic injustice (no pun intended) is that the art which the desperate wife fought so hard against is the thing that ultimately killed her. But for those of us who not only love literature but love art.... would have noticed how life-like Poe describes the painting to be and would have used deductive reasoning to find out that something terribly tragic had happend to this beautiful girl. Anyone familiar with Poe and this time period at all would know that something always happens to the beautiful girl.

| Posted on 2008-09-23 | by a guest


.: :.

This story not only represents perfectionism, it also depicts a beautifully tragic picture of the way women were supposed to respond to their husbands in this time period. The wife in this story detested her husbands art, she was constantly fighting the art for his attention. When he asked her to sit for him so that he could use his art to enjoy his wife, she probably thought this was the only way she could have any interaction with her husband. And over the weeks, even though she was very outwardly showing the signs of illness and death, he never noticed. He never took any notice of her at all, really, he was so wrapped up in creating a beautiful portrait. And the poetic injustice (no pun intended) is that the art which the desperate wife fought so hard against is the thing that ultimately killed her. But for those of us who not only love literature but love art.... would have noticed how life-like Poe describes the painting to be and would have used deductive reasoning to find out that something terribly tragic had happend to this beautiful girl. Anyone familiar with Poe and this time period at all would know that something always happens to the beautiful girl.

| Posted on 2008-09-23 | by a guest


.: The Oval Portrait :.

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allen Poe is a complex framed story. A framed story is when there is a story with in a story, such as the woman and the artist with in the story of the feverish man. There are several themes to this work, such as how "life imitates art" thus making artists destoyers as well as creators. The Art takes on personification as the woman de-personifies. The art becomes reality as the woman is dstroyed once by the art and again by the re-telling of the image causing it to lose its power yet again.
*A note to writers this space is for analysis please we can all read do not just plot summarize give your thoughts

| Posted on 2008-06-04 | by a guest


.: ..::Oval Portrait::.. :.

The Oval portrait i feel is about a man who is injured and weak , so decides to return to his house. while at his house he gets comfortable and starts to notice all the portrait surrounding him in his room. but a certain "oval portrait" catches his eye that he hasn't payed much attention to before. while gazing at this portrait he finds a book telling the storys of all the paintings within the room. so he flips to the page of the "oval portrait" and reads the story of how a couple where in love but the female didn't enjoy her future husbands passion for painting ,yet because she loved him she allowed him to paint her for many weeks within a dark,damp turret. while there the painter took much pride in his painting making sure everything was exactly perfect. and when he had finished his painting he admired it then noticed his love was dead as if he had painted her life in the portrait.

| Posted on 2008-02-27 | by a guest


.: ..::Oval Portrait::.. :.

The Oval portrait i feel is about a man who is injured and weak , so decides to return to his house. while at his house he gets comfortable and starts to notice all the portrait surrounding him in his room. but a certain "oval portrait" catches his eye that he hasn't payed much attention to before. while gazing at this portrait he finds a book telling the storys of all the paintings within the room. so he flips to the page of the "oval portrait" and reads the story of how a couple where in love but the female didn't enjoy her future husbands passion for painting ,yet because she loved him she allowed him to paint her for many weeks within a dark,damp turret. while there the painter took much pride in his painting making sure everything was exactly perfect. and when he had finished his painting he admired it then noticed his love was dead as if he had painted her life in the portrait.

| Posted on 2008-02-27 | by a guest


.: my deep thoughts :.

this story is called a framed story. I consist of a story within a story. On the inner story a man is painging his wife and comes so into it. the wife becomes weaker as time goes on. as he transfers her beauty on to the portrait it is pulled out of her until later on when the picture is finsihed he realizes she is dead.
the end.

| Posted on 2008-02-07 | by a guest


.: THIS is what happens :.

this guy is at a hotel full of paintings on the walls looking for a certain painting and he's searching for hours and hours so he lights some more candles, and the light falls on an unnoticed oval portrait of a beautiful young woman. he feels that the portrait was almost alive. he realizes its the one he's been searching for, so he looks it up in one of his books. he reads the story behind it, and he reads that the artist was married to the woman, but his wife hated art. but when he wanted to paint a portrait of her, she agreed. he painted for weeks while neglecting her, and eventually used his brush to paint her life onto the canvas, transferring it from her body. the end.

| Posted on 2007-11-06 | by a guest


.: one point of view :.

Hello I'm French so sorry if I make any mistakes.
This short story is about the danger of reaching perfection. In this case, the painter wants to reproduce her wife as if she was alive! So like a vampire (this is clearly a gothic story), he suck out the life of the girl and kill her. Only God has the power to create life. (see also Frankenstein)


| Posted on 2007-10-30 | by a guest


.: My theme analysis :.

basically this story is about a painting that a man sees as he's occupying an abandon building. the story behind the painting is about a wife and his painter. the painter neglects his wife as he is painting a portrait of her which eventually leads to her death. Poe describes the process of making the portrait as a sort of "death sentence" to the painter's wife since each stroke of his brush seem to draw the color out of his wife and onto the portrait. thus the moral of the story is not to neglect loved ones over an obsession.

got it? get it? good.
peace out

| Posted on 2007-04-01 | by a guest


.: Oval Portrait :.

No this story is about a Man and his servant driver guy need a place to stay for the night so they pick this random old antique hotel to sleep for the night. Then the narrator is flipping through this book and all of a sudden the light bends and unviels a beautiful eye catching painting. So unique that the narrator has to close his eyes and wait for it to register in his head. So he gets the painting and is so intrigued by it studies its beauty. and finds little printing on the paint. Describing the background of the painting. The Painter was doing a portrait of his young beautiful wife. While he was doing this painting he kept neglecting her wanting to finish it. She was so nice and loving she sat there for weeks and weeks letting her husband paint the portrait. until finally he was done. He loved it it was beautiful. and when he turned to his wife. She was dead. he had panited her to death. Like with every brush stroke he painted away her life. painted the life out of her.

| Posted on 2007-02-06 | by a guest


.: adam rogic :.

hello my name is adam rogic and i am of ottoman decent, everyone here feel free to email me at rogic01@hotmail.com and i will be honoured to send you all a copy of poe's unrealesed book of short stories. please, i ahve about 1000 copies here and they will soon go to waste. So if you are interested please email me soon.

cheers, AR

| Posted on 2006-06-29 | by Approved Guest




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