As he story commences you get the allusion of an “abandoned chateau”, which builds a mood of mystery. Poe depicts the walls as “bedecked with manifold and multiform armorial trophies. ” This conveys a dark shadowy setting within the story. A dark shadowy setting is also conveyed through this story when the narrator references how the “chateau” was “Ann Radcliffe’s style”, “its decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique. ” The narrator also portrays the apartment to have “rich but decaying decorations”, comprising of “tapestries, trophies, and paintings”.
Manifesting Gothic elements throughout the story, portraying setting and mood, diction is used to make the story more thought provoking. Diction is the choice and use of words and phrases in speech or writing. As the painter becomes engrossed in his work he completely ignores his wife. The painter “took glory in his work” and becomes “lost in reveries. ” Since the painter becomes so “absorbed” in the art, “the light which fell so ghastly in the tone turret” would ‘Weaken the health” and “spirits” of his wife, who loves him very much. The painter, described as a “passionate” man, even more so for his art.
The painter grows to “adore” his work, and becomes so “overwhelmed” by his work, he can no longer see his wife except though the ‘S’iews of his painting’, “rarely turning is eyes from the canvas. ” Finally, Poe references unity of effect throughout “The Oval Portrait. ” Unity of effect is manifested through every element of this story helping create a single emotional impact. Poe does this by describing the terminal love between the painter and his wife. Throughout the story the wife is alluded to as a candle. Poe describes the “spirits” of the lady as the “flickering” of candle flame.
The painter is described to have more “passion” and “love” for his “work” than for his wife, making her “flicker” like a candle flame. Due to the “passion” and “love” for the painting, the painter is in a hypnagogic state. A hypnagogic state is the experience of a transitional state from wakefulness to sleep, also known as daydreaming. Being in this hypnagogic state, it causes the painter to vision his wife as the lady in the painting, by their “resemblances. ” After the passing off of “many weeks” the painter “gazed” and grew “tremulous” and “aghast” by the oval portrait on the wall.
In a loud voice he says, “This is indeed Life itself. ” As the painter says those words he glances over at his wife and, “she was dead. ” After he turns and realizes his wife is dead, her spirit transfers into the lifelike painting. The effect of horror is developed throughout the short story “The Oval Portrait. ” The setting of the story exposes horror through the setting; obsession the painter has with the oval painting on the wall, and through the terminal love between the painter and his wife. Poe references Gothic elements; diction and unity of affect through the story, creating the horrific story, “The Oval Portrait. “