The Oval Portrait

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Commentaire de texte : The Oval Portrait, Edgar Allan Poe From Selected Tales, Penguin, Popular Classics The Oval Portrait, a short story from Edgar Allan Poe, lies in the fact that art and life are deadly linked. The passion for art and painting is described as causing death since the painter’s determination to make a portrait of his wife will cause her death. As in most of Poe’s short stories, the setting takes an important place in the story. We could say that it has even an influence on the characters since the narrator is losing his mind while the action is taking place. Our study will consist in showing how The Oval Portrait could embody most of Poe’s tales. We will first try to discover how the setting can affect the…show more content…
And he is so confused that he needs to close his eyes to come round: “I glanced at the painting hurriedly and then closed my eyes (…) It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought – to make sure that my vision had not deceived me – to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more taken gaze” (L. 36-42). So even if there are weird and undisputable signs that destabilize him, he doesn’t want to let himself go. Besides, the “-“ indicates his need to pause because he needs time to think about what is happening. He tries to be more lucid but he is between dream and reality. In this passage (“But the action produced (…) into walking life” L.31-47), the narrator uses a lot of words which belong to the lexical field of perception : “sow”, “glanced”, “my own perception”, “my vision”, “gaze”, “looked”, “had seem to dissipate”, “my senses”, which show that he tries to come back to the real world. He is disoriented, but in the following paragraph he seems to come round. First, he knows what he has already said which proves his clearness: “The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl” (L.48). Then, he uses a lot of technical terms to describe the portrait: “a vignette” (L.50), “Moresque” (L.54), “in the style of the favourite heads of Sully” (L.51), etc. which shows that his opinion is that of a connoisseur and that he is no longer in a dream (besides, he even quotes Anne Radcliffe, pioneer of the gothic novel, at the beginning of
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