This fictional short story has a bent on mystery as it doesn't portray many details as how the character is hurt, or how the lady in the painting was dying. Its in first person narration, thereby giving the readers only the exact feels and thoughts about the main character. The tone of the writer was rather astonished , by the beauty or by the numerous number of ‘spiritual modern paintings' that were hung on the walls of the apartment. The purpose of the writer was to discus the history about one particular painting ‘the oval portrait' was of a young girl that attracted the attention of the narrator at his very first glance.
When the narrator turns to the page discussing this painting and its history it talks about a "passionate, wild and moody man", taking glory in his work, an artist who painted day and night over many weeks and who "took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task". However, the artist's obsession to his painting has a price: the more alive and vital his painting, the more life is drained from his young wife, a process the artist completely fails to register. with the final brush stroke -- the painting comes fully alive at the exact moment of his young wife's death.
The narrator was quoting directly from the book about the portrait during the last part of the story. He uses some similes like ‘the spirit ….lamp' where he was perhaps trying to compare the lady's spirit to a flame ,and she was also described as ‘she a maiden….fawn' thereby trying to portray or compare her to a young deer. He also uses a metaphor in the beginning ,'tongues…candelabrum' maybe trying to showcase how the candle wicks were similar to tongues.
Her artist husband has already "a bride in his Art" and this metaphor becomes something far more literal as the story progresses, the artist drawing tints of colour for the portrait from the very cheeks of the woman he paints, oblivious of the harm it caused her.
the climax occurs when the account in the book reveals that the lifelike portrait of the young lady is absorbing her vitality.