Pedro the valet brings the injured narrator come an exit chateau because he walk not desire the narrator to have to sleep outside. They pressure an entry and also prepare for a night in one of the building"s smallest apartments, i m sorry lies in a young tower. The apartment has actually rich however decaying decorations, including tapestries, trophies, and also paintings.

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The narrator is semi-delirious from his wounds and takes an intense interest in the paintings, therefore he has Pedro nearby the shutters, light a candelabrum, and also open the bed curtains so that the narrator can look at the paints while reading a publication he has discovered on the pillow, which provides information around the paintings. Quite than going come sleep along with his valet, the narrator reads and also observes until around midnight, when he decides to shift the candelabrum come throw an ext light on the book.

The main result of the narrator"s movement of the candle is that the light now reveals a portrait that had been concealed in the dark near one of the bedposts. The paint is the a girl top top the cusp of becoming a woman, and the narrator feeling a sudden impulse come close his eyes, which the does in order to patience down and view the painting more clearly. As soon as he opens his eyes again, the sees the his senses had momentarily trickery him and also startled him into wakefulness.

The portrait displays a vignette of the girl"s head and shoulders in the format of thomas Sully, one American portraitist. The details listed below the bust darken into the shadow of the background, and also the oval framework is covered with yellow filigree in the Moorish style. The painting is beautiful, as is the subject, but the narrator had actually momentarily failure it because that a life person, although that is obviously a painting. He continues to observe the portrait to determine how the painting had actually caused the effect prior to respectfully returning the candelabrum to its previous place so the he cannot watch the painting.

The narrator opens his book to read about the oval portrait. It defines the subject as a normally cheerful "maiden that rarest beauty" that marries the painter for love. The painter, the publication relates, is passionate but studious, and also as much in love v his painting as that is v his wife. Consequently, although the mam is normally happy and also loving of all things, she despises his art and the devices of painting since she has actually to complete with his arts for the painter"s time and affection.

The wife"s dislike of she husband"s art eventually comes into conflict with his love for the painting once he asks her to sit as a design for a portrait. She dislikes the idea, however being a modest and also obedient wife, she agrees to sit in the dark tower wherein the just light comes from over so the he deserve to paint. The artist is passionate about the painting, but since of his moodiness and also dreaminess, that does not an alert that she is wasting away in the dark. Nevertheless, she does no complain and also continues to laugh for his portrait since she knows the her husband is obsessed with his project.

The portrait is for this reason life-like that everyone who sees it marvels and also concludes that it is the combination of his skill and also his love for his wife. However, together the portrait nears completion, the artist shuts himself and also his wife right into the tower away from visitors so the he can place all his concentration top top his work, not realizing that his wife grows paler as the portrait grows much more life-like. As soon as he finishes the painting, the stares in ~ it and realizes that "this is indeed Life itself!" before turning to his wife and realizing that she died during his last couple of strokes of the brush.


As among the shortest of Poe"s stories, "The Oval Portrait" is composed of a short one-paragraph story framed within a larger vignette whose main purpose is to develop the romantic Gothic mood in i m sorry the story occurs. The setup and basis of the plot room shrouded in mystery; the narrator walk not explain how or whereby he is wounded, and also with his servant, he enters one abandoned, disk chateau that provides no more answers 보다 the narrator. The dark gloom that a deserted home is a standard background because that a Gothic story, and also the tapestries and strange architecture of the building give the narrator"s selection of apartment a feeling of removal indigenous the modern world. Nothing of consequence occurs throughout the night, but the details provide a romantic emotion of loss the serves together an arrival to the story of the oval portrait.

The oval portrait indicates the tension in between the impermanence that life and the intransience of art. The portrait"s topic is complete of life when she marries the painter, however the together the guide publication says, "The tints which he spread out upon the canvas were attracted from the cheeks of her that sat next to him." through his creative powers, that has produced a twin of his wife, yet as in "William Wilson," both cannot simultaneously subsist for lengthy without one defeating the other. The background of the painting argues that back the metamorphosis indigenous life come eternal arts may produce a masterful occupational of beauty that simulates life, the narrator is just deceived by his "dreamy stupor" and by the sudden reveal of the painting from the dark. A second, an ext intense look in ~ the paint reveals the illusion, and also similarly, the painter of the story end by offering up his mam for a only image.

The destruction of loved ones is a typical theme in many of Poe"s brief stories, yet unlike in Poe"s other stories, the artist does not cause his wife"s death due to the fact that of hate or any negative emotions. Instead, his enthusiasm for his art just overwhelms him come the point where he have the right to no longer see his wife other than though the lens of his painting. Thus, the story associates art and creativity v decay, not just within the story that the painting yet in the junxtap location of "spirited modern-day paintings" through "rich, yet tattered and antique" decorations in ~ the narrator"s room. In the story of C. Auguste Dupin, Poe praises the strength of imagination tempered by the capability to maintain emotional removal, but the passion of the artist in "The Oval Portrait" is unrestricted and also hence eventually harmful in his find to immortalize his wife"s image.

The association of beautiful women with fatality is widespread in Poe"s works, and also is specifically prominent in "The Oval Portrait." The painter"s wife is a beautiful mrs even before she agrees to design for her husband"s portrait, but as she begins to fade far under the affect of the tower, she becomes pale and also wan and as a result could easily fit the Romantic and also Gothic right of the ethereal woman. Finally, as she dies, the process of transfer between life and also art completes, and her portrait captures her "immortal beauty" prior to it can fade far in old age and memory. Art and also aesthetics are inherently connected, and also the relationship in between art and also death areas the painter"s wife next to other Poe personalities such as Ligeia indigenous the eponymous story, who also become beautiful together they method death.

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Although "The Oval Portrait" centers top top the painting of a woman, the painter"s mam is basically a passive figure within the story. Docile and loving, she is akin come the canvas of the portrait in that both room manipulated by the male painter, whose passion and also drive do him the energetic figure in the history of the painting. Furthermore, the mam is never ever the active, observing character. She is only observed, both by her husband, that in the throes the his arts sees her only as a model, and also by the narrator, who peers at her image in order to while far the night (we understand that the narrator is male since his servant is defined as a valet, a term commonly used because that the male servant the a man). The wife"s fate acts as a criticism that the male domination of art, yet her compliance and also submissiveness prevent her from offer as an ext than a quiet warning.

Next SectionThe facts in the instance of M. Valdemar an overview and AnalysisPrevious SectionWilliam Wilson an introduction and AnalysisBuy study GuideHow To point out in MLA FormatWang, Bella. Jordan Reid Berkow ed. "Poe’s brief Stories The Oval Portrait an introduction and Analysis"., 29 July 2009 Web. Point out this page