Sunday, January 10, 2021

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 2 The Oval Portrait | Edgar Allan Poe

Unit: 2

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 2  The Oval Portrait | Edgar Allan Poe

The Oval Portrait

Summary

The narrator is wounded for unknown reasons. He takes shelter along with his servant in a deserted mansion in the Apennines. They establish themselves in one of the rooms. The narrator shows deep interest in the bizarre paintings decorating the walls of the room. At around midnight, he adjusts a candlestick in the room and sees a portrait he didn’t noticed before. The picture is in an oval-shaped frame. It reveals the head and shoulders of a young woman. The narrator is charmed by the portrait, which seems so lively. But he soon gets appalled by it. He turns to the book and reads the information about the portrait. He discovers that the woman depicted in it is the young bride of the artist. She is a perfect wife in every respect. But she is jealous of her husband’s art that diverts him from her. The artist paints a picture of his wife, and becomes more obsessed with capturing her likeness. The wife remains in a humble and obedient pose for many weeks. Her health becomes increasingly poor as the work continues. He stops paying attention to her and becomes more preoccupied with the painting. When the portrait is about to finish, the artist is delighted with the quality of his own work. He then looks at his wife to regard her, but finds that she is dead.

Understanding the text

a.
...
Answer:
They made forcible entrance into the chateau.

b.
...
Answer:
He noticed the picture of a young girl.

c.
...
Answer:
The portrait was in an oval-shaped frame. It revealed the head and shoulders of the young woman. The arms, the bosom, and even the ends of the radiant hair dissolved untraceably into the unclear yet deep shadow which formed the background of the whole.

d.
...
Answer:
They are husband and wife.

Reference to the context

a.

The story “The Oval Portrait” deals with the theme of relationship between art and life. Art and obsession to it are showed as killers and responsible for the young bride’s death. In this context, art is equivalent to death. The association between art and life is considered as rivalry. In the story it is suggested that art can reveal the artist's guilt or evil and may even destroy the life.


The woman depicted in the oval portrait is the wife of the painter and the victim of the painter’s passion for the portrait.

b.

The story "The Oval Portrait" is a short horror story with its dark setting and mood of the narration. It is set in a gloomy abandoned mansion. Although the mansion is deserted, it contains objects of a dark and mysterious past - such as the oval portrait itself. The image of the remote abandoned chateau is given a hint of mystery and gloom. The antiquity of the interior where its walls are decorated with tapestry and manifold and multiform armorial trophies, and a great number of spirited modern paintings. The dark setting and shadowy circumstances of the prior events provide the impression that the story has a bizarre twist. The reader’s anticipation of mystery is sustained by the appearance of a lifelike portrait of a woman in one of the darker nooks of the mysterious room.

c.

The references of the painting state that the young lady in the portrait is very beautiful. She loses her life because her husband compels her to sit for many weeks in an attempt to make the most beautiful portrait of her. Though the lady sits next to her husband, he is so immersed in his painting to create a beautiful portrait of his wife. But he doesn’t realize his wife's life withdrawing from her body slowly. It reveals the sad reality of the husband's failure to witness the beauty of his wife. As he was an artist, he wants to treasure it in the form of a portrait. In this way, her beauty condemns her to own death.

d.

The Oval Portrait is a frame narrative, or a story that contains another story. In the first part of the story, we encounter the unnamed narrator, who is injured and stranded at night for unknown reasons. He along with his companion and servant, Pedro, take shelter in an abandoned mansion. The narrator stays awake while his servant sleeps. He is captivated by the paintings on the bedroom wall and studies a book containing their history. Noticing a lifelike painting of a young woman, he reads about it in the book.


In the second section, the narrator tells how a beautiful woman marries a painter who is completely absorbed in his work. Although she doesn’t love this, she agrees to sit for a portrait, a process that takes many weeks. As the portrait neares completion, the lady grows increasingly weak. In placing the final touches of his masterpiece on the canvas, he suddenly realizes that she is dead.

e.

The mansion is abandoned and worn-out. The turret room is in a remote section of the mansion. The room is rich in decorations, but they are tattered and antique. The walls are full of tapestries, trophies, and spirited modern paintings. This vivid description of the mansion provides the gothic image. Likewise, the descriptions of the portrait describe how real and beautiful it is. Although she is dead, she is painted so life-like in the portrait.


The dark gloominess of the abandoned house is a classic background for a gothic story. The painter is the symbol of the fanaticism. The woman in the oval portrait, is the victim of painter's passion for art. The oval portrait symbolizes the immortality of art. The frame is the symbol of the general objectification she faced as a physically attractive woman.

f.

The expression ‘She was dead!’ means the painter’s realization of the death of his beloved because of his devotion to the portrait. His wife remains in an obedient pose for many weeks. As the work continues her health becomes increasingly poor. However, the painter does not notice the worsening condition of his wife, continuing to paint desperately, without taking his eyes off the canvas. Given the last brush stroke, the painter is delighted with the liveliness of his creation, but turning to his wife, he realizes that she is dead.

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