The Oval Portrait

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Topics: Edgar Allan Poe
The Oval Portrait

In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Oval Portrait,” the effect of horror is created. Horror is created within the setting, the painter’s obsession, and in the terminal love between the couple. By referencing the use of Gothic elements, diction and unity of effect, Poe creates the horrific short story “The Oval Portrait.”

Poe uses many diverse Gothic Elements to portray the setting and mood of the story. A gloomy setting, grotesque, mysterious, or violent events, and an atmosphere of degeneration and decay can characterize Gothic elements. As the story commences you get the allusion of an “abandoned chateau”, which builds a mood of mystery. Poe depicts the walls as “bedecked with manifold and multiform armorial trophies.” This conveys a dark shadowy setting within the story. A dark shadowy setting is also conveyed through this story when the narrator references how the “chateau” was “Ann Radcliffe’s style”, “its decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique.” The narrator also portrays the apartment to have “rich but decaying decorations”, comprising of “tapestries, trophies, and paintings”. Manifesting Gothic elements throughout the story, portraying setting and mood, diction is used to make the story more thought provoking.

Diction is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing. As the painter becomes engrossed in his work he completely ignores his wife. The painter “took glory in his work” and becomes “lost in reveries.” Since the painter becomes so “absorbed” in the art, “the light which fell so ghastly in the tone turret” would “weaken the health” and “spirits” of his wife, who loves him very much. The painter, described as a “passionate” man, even more so for his art. The painter grows to “adore” his work, and becomes so “overwhelmed” by his work, he can no longer see his wife except though the “views of his painting”, “rarely turning is eyes from the canvas.”

Finally, Poe references unity of effect

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