Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Edgar Allan Poe's The Oval Portrait. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Oval Portrait: Introduction
The Oval Portrait: Plot Summary
The Oval Portrait: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Oval Portrait: Themes
The Oval Portrait: Quotes
The Oval Portrait: Characters
The Oval Portrait: Symbols
The Oval Portrait: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
Historical Context of The Oval Portrait
Other Books Related to The Oval Portrait
- Full Title: The Oval Portrait
- When Written: 1842
- Where Written:
- When Published: April 1842
- Literary Period: Romanticism
- Genre: Gothic frame story
- Setting: An abandoned chateau in the Apennines sometime during the early 19th century
- Climax: The artist looks up from the completed portrait of his wife, only to discover that she has died.
- Antagonist: The destructively obsessive tendencies of artists
- Point of View: First-person, third person
Extra Credit for The Oval Portrait
Spare Me the Details. “The Oval Portrait” is a shortened and somewhat modified version of an earlier story entitled “Life in Death”. “Life in Death” features more of a backstory for the narrator, but Poe eventually decided to suppress these extra details as he considered them irrelevant to the main thrust of the plot.
Everyone’s a Critic. Though he won fame (and infamy) as a short-story writer and poet, Poe also produced a considerable volume of art criticism and was well-versed in painting and sculpture—which explains the close attention he paid to visual culture in works such as “The Oval Portrait,” “The Philosophy of Furniture,” and others.