Unit-2 The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe
Exercise, Summary and Theme
“Oval Portrait” tells the story of a young artist who falls in love with a portrait he discovered in an abandoned castle. The painting depicts a beautiful young woman, and as the narrator observes her, he becomes increasingly fascinated by her expression. He finds a book that tells the story behind the portrait, revealing that the woman in the painting is the artist’s wife. The artist, because of his passion for art, neglected his wife and spent countless hours perfecting the painting. In the end, the woman languished, sacrificing her life for the work of art. The story ends with the realization that the woman in the portrait and the real woman are one.
“The Oval Portrait” is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1842. It is a Gothic story that explores the themes of art, obsession, and the cost of creativity. .
The story begins with an injured narrator seeking refuge in an abandoned castle. While exploring the rooms, he came across a portrait of a young woman. Intrigued by the painting’s beauty, he immersed himself in its story, told through a manuscript he found nearby. The manuscript reveals the story of the portrait’s subject, a young bride. The narrator knows that the artist, the husband of the bride, is obsessed with capturing her beauty on canvas. Passionate about art, he neglected his wife and spent countless hours painting her portraits.
When the artist was about to finish the painting, his wife’s health deteriorated. She grew weaker and weaker, but he continued to paint, believing he could capture her soul in the work. Finally the woman dies and the artist completes the portrait. As he ponders the end result, he realizes that he has indeed captured his soul, but at the cost of his life.
The story ends when the narrator realizes that the portrait he first admired is actually a living image of the young bride, when her body has withered. He is haunted by the realization that the pursuit of art can lead to the destruction of life itself.
The power of art:
The story explores the idea that art can be exhausting and even destructive. The artist’s obsession with his work leads to the disappearance of his wife, blurring the line between art and reality.
The Artist’s Sacrifice:
History shows that artists often sacrificed their personal relationships and even their own happiness to pursue their craft. The painter’s dedication to his art eventually led to the death of his wife.
The ephemeral nature of beauty:
The story highlights the ephemeral nature of beauty and the inability to capture it fully in art. The portrait is a moment of icy beauty, but it fails to capture the true nature of the woman, who will wither in the process.
Relation between art and life:
The story suggests a surprising relation between art and life. Art is about life, so it must be secondary as an object of pleasure. But sometimes it becomes more important than life itself, as happens in the story.
Understanding the text
Answer these questions.
a. Where did the narrator and his servant make forcible entrance?
Ans: The narrator and his servant made forcible entrance into the chateau because of his desperately wounded condition and they had to pass a night.
b. Which special picture did the narrator notice in the room?
Ans: The narrator noticed the portrait of a young girl just ripening into womanhood.
c. Describe the portrait that the narrator saw in the room.
Ans: The portrait 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 favourite 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 background of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded and filigreed in Moresque.
d. What is the relationship between the portrait painter and its subject?
Ans: They were husband and wife.
Reference to the context
a. What is the central theme of the story? Who is the woman depicted in the oval portrait?
Ans: The story suggests a surprising relation between art and life. Art is about life, so it must be secondary as an object of pleasure. But sometimes it becomes more important than life itself, as happens in the story.
b. “The Oval Portrait” is a short horror story by Edgar Allan Poe involving the disturbing circumstances surrounding a portrait in a chateau. Elaborate.
Ans: Yes, “The Oval Portrait” is a short horror story by Edgar Allan Poe involving the disturbing circumstances surrounding a portrait in a chateau. This short story has introduced a horrendous and melancholy setting. The Chateau is totally abandoned and older style. The setting inside and outside appear to be entirely awful.
The Chateau is so unmanaged and messy. The life-like representation has been set in one of the dim corners. The encompassing of the life-like picture is so upsetting due to the unmanaged condition all over. The appearance of the guests additionally has added distance in the climate. The picture appears to be very useless in that ruined climate of the Chateau.
c. “The Oval Portrait” suggests that the woman’s beauty condemns her to death. Discuss.
Ans: Women’s beauty has always been an issue in real life and stories.The story also touches this issue. The artist’s wife dies only because of his craze to capture her beauty forever. Her beauty will not last forever. Therefore, he wants to make her immortal through the painting. And he wants to make it perfect. For this she has to sit in the same place for days and weeks. She grows weak day by day and dies at last. If she was not so beautiful, it may not have happened.
d. Discuss the story The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan a frame narrative (a story within a story).
Ans: Edgar Allan Poe, renowned American Gothic short story author and writer, distributed ‘The Oval Portrait’ in 1842. It’s one of his most limited short stories, however it brings up fascinating issues about workmanship and the parts of those associated with its making and appreciation. It’s anything but a frame narrative, or a story that contains another story. Notwithstanding, ‘The Oval Portrait’ is more strict than most. The story portrays the style of the artwork and its casing in significant detail, and its title zeros in more on the introduction of the picture than regarding its matter.
In the peripheral story, we meet the anonymous storyteller, who is genuinely harmed and abandoned around evening time for obscure reasons. His buddy and worker, Pedro, breaks into an unwanted estate, where the two men take cover. Regardless of his self-declared ridiculous express, the storyteller stays conscious while his valet dozes. He is interested by the compositions on the room divider and studies a book containing their set of experiences. Seeing a startlingly similar representation of a young lady, he finds out about it in the book. Here we experience another story according to the point of view of the craftsmanship book’s writer.
The creator tells how the wonderful, lively subject wedded a painter who was totally invested in his work. Despite the fact that she abhorred this, she consented to sit for a picture, a cycle that required a little while. As the picture moved toward fruition, the craftsman’s lady became progressively powerless and slow. In putting the last bits of his work of art on the material, he out of nowhere understood that she had passed on directly before him. In rejuvenating the canvas, he achieved her demise.
e. The story is told in a descriptive style, with plenty of imagery and symbolism. Which images and symbols do you find in the story?
Ans: Frame is used in this story as a symbol. It plays a significant part in “The Oval Portrait,” representing the peril of attempting to catch and apply responsibility for excellence. The outlined picture of the craftsman’s better half addresses a sort of allegorical detainment—the actual casing is emblematically much the same as the dividers of a jail cell wherein just the young lady’s external excellence, instead of her internal identity, is basically held hostage for the watcher’s appreciation. In this sense, the casing additionally addresses the overall typification she looked as an actually appealing lady, since the story infers that men saw her as only a wonderful sight to take a gander at, rather than an unpredictable person.
Toward the finish of the story, it is uncovered that the craftsman’s significant other kicked the bucket while he was engrossed with painting her representation and considering it as “Life itself.” considering this, the edge around her image embodies the peril of conflating existence with workmanship, as the young lady’s quintessence is presently restricted exclusively to the limits of this edge, and consequently her better half’s admired translation of her. However her real, genuine magnificence and the subtleties of her character were therefore lost always simultaneously.
f. What does the expression “She was dead!” mean?
The expression ‘she was dead!’ can mean two things. First, the woman could have really died. It took the artist many weeks to complete her picture. And sitting in the same position, she was growing weaker day by day. She was dead by the time it was completed. The second meaning can be symbolic. Life is short and ends one day. But art can be immortal and long-lasting. The painting became so real and perfect that the woman’s value became less. After it was finished, she was no longer needed.