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The Oval Portrait

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The Oval Portrait

Edgar Allan Poe

"The Oval Portrait" by Edgar Allen Poe is a short story about unrequited love, and how you have to sacrifice for love. A change of the light makes the narrator see a new picture and thus see a whole new side of love and art. How do you choose between your passions, in this case love and art, and how do you kill your love without even noticing?

In the beginning of the story the injured narrator is helped by his valet into a chateau. The narrator seems a kind of lonely, while he is lying on the bed in the remote turret. The room's walls are covered by modern paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque, and on the pillow there is a book which tells the reader all about the paintings. The dark chamber is illuminated by candelabrum with many candles. A change of the position makes the rays of the candelabrum fell on a portrait which the narrator hasn't seen before. It depicts a beautiful young girl just ripening into a woman. The narrator gets touched by the life-like, young girl, and he decides to read about the portrait in the book. It tells the story about the maiden of rarest beauty getting married to the painter, who also is married to Art. He wants to paint a portrait of his young bride, and he gets so obsessed of his painting that he forgets all about his her. It results the death of the bride. As a consequence of him reading the story about the girl getting unhappy married to the painter and afterwards killed by him, we don't hear the narrator's state of mind. This and the fact that we don't know where and how he's injured, and we don't know anything about his past, makes the narrator very mysterious. That there are so many facts we don't know anything about, creates an atmosphere of suspense and mystery, which is a gothic element. The chateau that the narrator and his valet overnight in is also a gothic element. The portrait of the girl is in the beginning hidden, and the narrator hasn't seen it before. It makes the chateau even scarier, because we don't know what else it hides.

The Art, who takes all the painters attention, has Edgar Allan Poe decided to write with a big "A" as a proper noun. This makes it personified. The young bride's only rival was Art, which makes me think of Art as another woman who is trying to take her husband. It is not only the bride who dies in the end, but their love and their marriage also. He didn't notice her, and gave only Art attention. Personification is a supernatural thing, which often appears in horror stories. But in this story we don't see the Art become a person, which makes this story a psychological horror story.

We don't know how the narrator is injured, and because I just have concluded that the story is psychological, it makes me think that the narrator could be psychologically



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