The Oval Portrait: Class 11 English Exercise

Class 11 English The Oval Portrait Exercise

  UNIT - 1.2  
THE OVAL PORTRAIT

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American writer, poet, literary critic and editor. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of the American literature as a whole. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. 

 ðŸ”† Understanding the text 

Answer these questions.

a. Where did the narrator and his servant make forcible entrance?

Ans: The narrator and his servant made a forcible entrance into an abandoned Chateau in the Apennines.

b. Which special picture did the narrator notice in the room?

Ans: A miniature picture of a young girl in an oval shape caught the narrator's eye.

c. Describe the portrait that the narrator saw in the room.

Ans: The portrait that the narrator saw in the room was quite artistic and life-like. The narrator saw it when the rays of candelabrum fell on it. The portrait was oval-shaped with a beautiful picture of a young girl on it. Its frame was richly decorative. The young girl seemed just ripening into womanhood. The narrator seemed completely startled to find the lady’s shoulder and head with radiant hair so real. The brushwork of tints in portrait seemed so real in the portrait. 

The narrator felt a sudden impulse to notice that portrait. He closed his eyes once and opened. He couldn’t believe his eyes to see such wonderful artistic creativity.

d. What is the relationship between the portrait painter and its subject?

Ans: Portrait painter and its subject have a husband-and-wife relationship. The subject's (lady's) spouse is an accomplished artist who created a portrait of his wife.


 ðŸ”† Reference to the context

a. What is the central theme of the story? Who is the woman depicted in the oval portrait?

Ans: In the short story "The Oval Portrait," the relationship between life and art is a primary theme. Art and love have the ability to raise anybody to a greater degree of perfection, but they also have the potential to harm those around us. The story's storyline highlighted the perils of developing a strong connection to anything. Art and love have the power to destroy everything that stands in their way.

The woman in the oval portrait is the painter's wife, and he painted the oval portrait.

b. “The Oval Portrait” is a short horror story by Edgar Allan Poe involving the disturbing circumstances surrounding a portrait in a chateau. Elaborate.

Ans: This short story has presented a terrible and gloomy setting of a desolate Chateau in one of the mountains range (Appennines) of central Italy. The Chateau which we find here in this story is completely deserted and very old fashioned. The setting inside and outside seem very terrible. 

The apartments inside Chateau are so unmanaged and dirty. The apartment where the narrator and his valet stay have many things for decoration but all of them are in decaying state. The life-like portrait has been placed in one of the dark corners. The surrounding of the life-like portrait is so disturbing due to the unmanaged condition everywhere. 

The arrival of the visitors also has added distance in the environment. The portrait seems quite valueless in that desolate environment of the Chateau.

c. “The Oval Portrait” suggests that the woman’s beauty condemns her to death. Discuss.

Ans: In this short story "The Oval Portrait", Edgar Allan Poe not only examines the relationship between art and life, but he also makes many references, one of which is that the woman's beauty would lead to her death. We find out whether the young girl was dead just because of her beautiful appearance.

Her husband wanted to photograph her since she was described as a beautiful lady in the story. He put a lot of effort into making his wife's photo seem like her in real life. Because he was so dedicated to giving his art life, the portrait took him weeks to complete.

Throughout the course of time, he viewed his wife as nothing more than a tool. He didn't think about the fact that she was a person who had been in a dark room for a long time and might have perished.

She eventually dies as he finishes and exclaims, "This is really life itself!" Her sole cause for death was her attractiveness. In other words, her husband would not have wanted to paint her if she hadn't been so breathtakingly beautiful, and she may still be alive today.

d. Discuss the story as a frame narrative (a story within a story).

Ans: The Oval Portrait, as a narrative frame, conveys a whole different story from the one shown in the mainstream story. The story's narrator gets wounded and struck at night in the first section of the story. He and Pedro take refuge in an abandoned house. While his servant sleeps, the storyteller remains awake. He is enthralled by a picture on his bedroom wall, as well as a well- written book. He learns about a young lady from the novel after seeing a realistic picture of her.

Then, here starts the story within the story. The story describes a lovely lady marrying a painter who is totally engaged in his art. Even though she doesn't like it, she is willing to sit behind the canvas for many weeks. At the conclusion of the picture, the woman's health deteriorates significantly. He gets a delayed realisation as he finishes painting her portrait: she is dead. Hence, the story describes another story.

e. The story is told in a descriptive style, with plenty of imagery and symbolism. Which images and symbols do you find in the story?

Ans: Throughout the story, there are many images and symbols used. The author has effectively conveyed his horror components through visuals in this story, where darkness and light are used to great effect. The audience was instantly captivated by a feeling of tension with the background of a lonely Chateau in the Italian Apennines. 

The image of two strangers in a lonely setting aroused the reader's attention. The author has used a variety of images throughout the Chateau to portray the setting, including houses, a creek, and more. Dark rooms, wall tapestries, trophies, an oval painting among other paintings, a candelabrum, a book, and light beams are just a few of the images on the storyline. The oval portrait uses oval forms to symbolise the transience of love and the indestructibility of art.

f. What does the expression “She was dead!” mean?

Ans: His expression of, "She's dead!" means his realisation of his extreme love for his mtaerialistic work and neglection to the living soul which ultimately caused the death of his wife. For a long time, his wife has been obedient to him. As time passed on the job, her health deteriorated. The painter, on the other hand, was completely oblivious of his wife's deteriorating condition while he worked feverishly on the painting. The painter is pleased with the vividness of his work as he turns to face his wife, but he knows she is dead.


🔆 Reference beyond the text

a. Do you think there is life in art?

Ans: There is practically no life in art, apart from the apparent beauty and emotional connections.

Art is the expression of human creativity and imagination, typically in the form of a visual medium such as painting or sculpture, with the goal of producing works that are pleasing to the eye or have an emotional effect. Unlike art, the continuation of any organism's or plant's presentation of a living activity, is referred to as life.

Art has no life of its own. It is nothing more than the pinnacle of a person's creativity, inspiration, and technical ability. Death, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of life. As a result, art seems like a lifeless thing to me. However, when a piece of art approaches its subject, elicits an emotional response, and enlightens the viewer, it is said to have life of its own.

b. As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable than the painting itself. Explain.

Ans: Painting is one of the most impressive artistic mediums. The picture speaks for itself in a very direct way. Regarding painting, this statement is appropriate. As we saw in this story, when the narrator first saw the painting, he was flabbergasted. The oval picture is one of the most impressive and has taken the storyteller completely by surprise in this story as well.

Similarly, The artists put in a lot of time and effort to produce beautiful works of art that have deeper significance. Good painting makes viewers curious about both it and the painter. So, painting is one of the most admirable art.

c. A more intense look at the painting reveals the illusion. Have you noticed any such painting?

Ans: Yes, I have noticed such paintings which reveals the illusion. A painting cannot be judged at a single look. An artist spends days to make an art. Every object in a painting possesses a special meaning. It is important to note that the painting becomes more meaningful when it is watched by a viewer who is passionate about paintings, whereas those viewers like me, who are not familiar with paintings, will always encounter illusions. As for me, I spent a long time watching a typical painting in a museum near my house for a long time, but I never seemed to grasp the meaning behind it.

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