Documents, records locked away in vaults, and history books are all excellent way to learn about the past. These are all ways that facts can be found, but that is only part of what can be discovered about past. Literature gives an insight into the culture of the times that facts and figures cannot do. The stories of any society reflect the attitudes and issues of concern that were on the minds of the people of the time, and The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe and The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne are perfect examples of how this is true.
[...] Turning to the number which designated the oval portrait, I there read the vague and quaint words which follow: (203) The narrator does not play a part in the actual story of the artist and his wife. He is just a bystander to the story by reading about it. He is also in a delusional state that could have an affect on how he perceives the painting and the book that he is reading. He has obviously wounded and has probably lost a lot of blood which could cause his delusion. [...]
[...] In both The Oval Portrait and The Birthmark, neither of the young women would have lost her life if she had refused to go along with what would seem to be an illogical event. Their youth is symbolic for the way that women were treated as children and these two women accept their husband's demands as a child would in her innocence. In both The Oval Portrait and The Birthmark, the beauty of each woman dooms her to death. During the Romantic Period, the scholars of the day were more centered on the personality and the creativity of the individual than his/her physical beauty. [...]
[...] Georgiana symbolized nature in that she was exceedingly beautiful and her birthmark is what made her an individual. Her flaw actually enhanced her beauty because in nature, nothing is perfect, yet it is beautiful. Aylmer is symbolic of industry and science that is not satisfied to appreciate nature for its beauty instead of what can be done with it. Aylmer has a beautiful and loving wife that most men would love to have and yet he can only focus on her flaw. [...]
[...] In The Oval Portrait, the valet plays an impersonal role. He is only there as a servant while Aminadab plays the role of conscious or reason in The Birthmark. The reader first sees the valet in the very beginning of the story when he breaks open the door of the deserted château for the injured narrator to spend the night while traveling. He goes about the rooms that the narrator is to occupy and makes it comfortable for him. There seems to be no interaction between the two except to communicate orders and work related conversation. [...]
[...] Aylmer has Aminadab as an employee and he is also able to provide a fantasy room for Georgiana to stay in while he conducts his experiment (202). During the Romantic Period, wealth afforded individuals to live a life that was dark and mysterious. This would be impossible for the poor and working class since they would be consumed with survival instead of the things that interested them. Both The Oval Portrait and The Birthmark are love stories. They are about love that starts out strong, but quickly turn into something else by the husbands. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee