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The Oval Portrait

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,003 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The Oval Portrait is a short horror story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. Our protagonist takes refuge in an abandoned castle and discovers a room with a series of paintings accompanied by a small book describing them. His attention is attracted by an oval portrait depicting a young woman of rare beauty. The book tells of the artist falling in love ...more
4 pages
Published 2007 (first published November 13th 1842)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,339)
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Glenn Russell
Since there are dozens of reviews already posted here, in the spirit of freshness I will focus on how Edgar Allan Poe uses this tale to convey the power of art and aesthetic experience for both artist and viewer. Below are my observations along with several of the author’s quotes.

The narrator enters a room situated in a remote turret of a Italian mountain chateau, a room filled with tapestry and trophies “together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern paintings, in frames of ric
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Exina
The narrator "takes refuge in an abandoned castle and discovers a room with a series of paintings accompanied by a small book describing them. His attention is attracted by an oval portrait depicting a young woman of rare beauty."

The story is eerie and tragic, and despite its shortness, fully captivates the reader.


Jim
This is a short-short, only two pages, but manages to pack one story inside another &, unfortunately, left me unsatisfied. The ending was too obvious, too early, & lost its impact. It's a cool idea no matter how it is interpreted; (view spoiler) They're not mutually exclusive, but could be.

I looked it up on Wikipedia becau
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Lou
I believe that all women over which wrote Poe are strange. All are beautiful and they die in strange way. With this short story, horror is combined with romanticism and art. It is an excellent combination.
Viji Sarath (Bookish endeavors)
A wonderful short story. A man stays overnight in a chateau where he happens to see an oval portrait of a lady,brimming with life. It was so lively that he had to close his eyes. He then reads the story of that portrait. It was of a lady who was the lover of the painter. He became deeply immersed in his work and continued painting her for days. "He would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sat beside him." When he finished his work, he say ...more
Jarrett
One of the themes in "The Oval Portrait" is submissiveness. The wife in the book didn't like what the painter was doing but she did it anyway. She also did it with a smile because she knew that it was something that her husband loved to do.
A symbol in the short story is "love" even though the wife didn't like what her husband was doing she helped him anyway showing that she had a greta love for him.
I think that what Edgar Allan Poe was trying to say is that if you love some but don't lie wh
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Rae Kozma
Totally awesome.
David
I enjoyed this story. An injured man takes refuge in an abandoned mansion. He admires the artwork on the wall, but one picture in particular captures his attention for its "absolute life-likeliness of expression". On the bed is a book which gives the story about this painting, its subject and its creator. It's tragic, and explains why the painting is so captivating.
Elinor  Loredan
I'm not sure I would call it a 'horror story', but one on what happens when we become too absorbed in our dreams and goals. The painter, seeing in shock that the painting of his wife has reached its ultimate state, finally looks at his wife, only to realize that it is too late, and he has lost her, the thing in his life that really mattered.
Sylvia McIvers
Really love those gothic tales.

A man becomes sick while hiking through the mountains. He finds refuge in a decaying castle. His valet (you know you can never go hiking w/out your valet, right?)sets him up in the smallest bedroom, complete with decaying tapestries, adorned with lovely pictures.

The most beautiful picture has a strange story behind it.

Gothic Checklist:
Ruined building - check. Delightfully creepy place for a sick man to recuperate. Ruined tapestries are just icing on the cake.

Obsess
...more
Dean MacKinnon-Thomson
A perfect piece honing in on a very specific aspect of the gothic genre. In this Poe deliberately makes a point of hinging everything around the role of the painted portrait in his Gothic genre.

If you like shorty-short stories, gothic novels and/or just want to learn more you really must give this a peruse,.
Jessica Oban
Probably the most frightening and surprising story I've ever read. I literally jumped as I read the final words.
Joanne
beautiful! this condensed story tells so much through its poetic language.
Rosia_lady
Intersting and misterious story. It is a little bit creepy but wonderful.
Marta Dunphy-Moriel
SYNOPSIS

The tale begins with an injured narrator seeking refuge in an abandoned mansion in the Apennines, with no explanation for his wound. He spends his time admiring the works of art decorating the strangely-shaped room and perusing a volume which “purported to criticize and describe” the paintings. He eventually discovers a painting which shocks him with its extreme realism, which he refers to as “absolute life-likeliness of expression”. He spends a moment (“for an hour, perhaps”, the reader
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sabisteb
WOW, dieser Teil hat es in sich. Poe bricht in Tempeltons Haus ein, dabei entdeckt er ein Portrait von Lucy Monahan, Leonies verstorbener Freundin, die sie im Sarg nach new Orleans überführte in Edgar Allan Poe - Sturz in den Mahlstrom (Edgar Allan Poe 5) und eine einäugige Schwaze Katze (siehe Edgar Allan Poe - Die schwarze Katze (Edgar Allan Poe 2)) Er entdeckt Leonie im Keller und will sie retten, dabei entdeckt er die Leiche von George Apos Bruder.


Spoiler Spoiler

Diesmal erfahren wir viel Neu
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Vladana Perlić
Today I watched Godard's "Vivre Sa Vie", in which one of the characters reads an excerpt from "The Oval Portrait". I thought it was beautiful so I had to read the whole story. I must say I wasn't disappointed.
Aditya Mallya
Is it possible to be disappointed by a story in which a weary traveller takes refuge in a decrepit castle? I don't think so.
WT Sharpe
Not my favorite Poe. Perhaps I'm jaded by all that has come since, but it was far too predictable for my tastes.
Neens Bea
Not Poe's best tale as it was fairly obvious how it was going to end.
Read for a course in sci-fi/fantasy literature.
Sasha
Very intriguing little short story with a lot of good symbolism. Would read again.
Nahia
Lo leí para literatura, creo que me ha gustado más que el primero que leí.
Shaunya Able
Passion, obsession, anguish & death. A true love story if I have ever read one.
Benjamin Stahl
Fucking, I read this because I can speak whatever language it's written in.
Susan
Reminds me of the Picture of Dorian Gray.
Sadie
Great, quick story. Classic Poe
Michael
This should have been 4 stars, but I had problems with the execution. He really packs in the atmosphere in very few words here, but that is the thing, it ends so abruptly I couldn't help feeling there were a few too few words. It would have been better if he had connected back to the original room and conveyed how the image would continue to haunt him or something. Or even if he had written the painter's story as the whole piece, instead of leaving it as a footnote in a book.

Original Publicatio
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Leirah
Muy corto e interesante. Puedo ver que esta historia inspiró "El retrato de Dorian Gray" de Oscar Wilde.

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4624490
The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Raven,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundr ...more
More about Edgar Allan Poe...
The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings The Complete Stories and Poems The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales Essential Tales and Poems The Cask of Amontillado

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