Astrid Agerskov Pedersen - 3.b - Skive Gymnasium og HF! Engelsk A - Aﬂevering 1 (ﬁction) - The Oval Portrait
The Oval Portrait, by Edgar Allan Poe
The short story “The Oval Portrait” is written by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a gothic novel because of particular elements of gothic reference. It describes the two different passions of a married couple. The husband requests that the wife let him paint her, and in obeying him she loses her love. As the painting ﬁnishes, both her health and spirits give up slowly, but yet she continues to sit for him. It discusses the tension between romance and art. It is a story about passion, life, art, death, romance and murder. The setting and the plot are shrouded in mystery all the way through, which help to establish the Gothic mood in which the story occurs. The whole atmosphere of the story is ﬁlled with mystery and suspense, which surrounds the other gothic elements. The deserted castle is a classic background for a Gothic story. It is described as an old castle with lots of decorations, tapestries and strange architecture. Though abandoned, the castle is still lavishly furnished and full of exquisite paintings. Edgar Allan Poe set a very gloomy atmosphere with his use of speciﬁc words in the story. When describing places and moods in “The Oval Portrait” he uses the words such as bizarre, sumptuously and arabesque. The use of these adjectives, along with the detailed description of the decorations in the room and the castle it self, set the tone and indicate to the reader that something powerful is about to happen further along. Also the old book with the story about the room and the painting is a kind of ancient prophecy which is a very normal and strong element in a gothic story. The maiden in the painting is both “the woman of distress” and “the woman threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male” in this gothic-story, because she suffers under the painter’s love and passion for art, and is deeply...
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