Appraisal of “The Oval Portrait”

Readers, this week I bring you my appraisal of “The Oval Portrait” – a tale in which a wounded man is swept into an abandoned and alarmingly macabre mansion by his valet, only to become transfixed by the artwork.

As our hero observes and reads about the portraits, he is startled by the appearance of a surreal and “life-like” oval portrait of a young lady. Shockingly, Mr. Poe describes her in detail from glowing hair to rounded bosom (My sincerest apologies to my fairer-sexed readers!)

Having meticulously determined that the painting is only “life-like”, yet not actually “living”, our hero resolves to learn the history of the portrait and finds that it was created by an obsessive master painter, recently married to a lovely, but neglected young woman – a young beauty cuckqueaned by her husband’s work.

The artist sets out to paint a portrait of his beautiful wife. And! She faithfully resolves to sit for him, while he attends to his work, his mistress, for days. However, as the artist works with a diligence that is more than diligence, he pours the life of his wife into the portrait, only to find her dead once the portrait is complete.

Readers, it is with deep concern that I write to you now.

I am alarmed. Truly alarmed! The unwholesome nature of this story, the graphic depiction of this young woman’s sexual charms and the way Master Poe concludes his tale with the slow and wanton death of the bride, not only confirm my fears that Master Poe has become unhinged. It makes me pray to God that He has mercy on Poe’s sickened and tormented soul.

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