What is the setting of "The Oval Portrait"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This excellent short story by Edgar Allen Poe is all to do with the relationship between art and life and is noted for both its brevity and the way that it features a framing narrative, or a story within a story. However, the framing narrative which begins the tale describes the setting. We are presented with a narrator who is clearly escaping some kind of battle or pursuit. He is in a "desperately wounded condition" and his valet finds a deserted and abandoned chateau for him where he can rest, rather than sleeping in the open air. It is set in the Appennines of Spain, and the narrator himself describes the chateau in Gothic terms:

The chateau into which my valet had ventured to make forcible entrance, rather than permit me, in my desperately wounded condition, to pass a night in the open air, was one of those piles of commingled gloom and grandeur which have so long frowned among the Appennines, not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Radcliffe.

Mrs. Radcliffe was a famous Gothic author of the time, renowned for creating Gothic tales set in abandoned castles or similar settings. The narrator and his valet establish themselves in a room that lay in a "remote turret" of the building, thus setting the scene for the Gothic action that is to follow in the tale.

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