The story can be divided in some events, but specially in two stories: narrator’s coming and the oval portrait’s story. In the former, we have a sudden and mysterious beginning, with the wounded narrator that got into a château thanks to his valet, Pedro. The castle had a lot of strange paintings, that lay everywhere. For these, the narrator took a deep interest, above all for an oval portrait that was in the room where he decided to spend the night. He found also a book describing all the portraits, so he started to read about the oval portrait and reported the whole description. Now, we are in the second story, and the book has immediately a gloom pitch, saying that the girl portrayed was very unlucky in getting married with the painter. He loved very much art, and so he neglected his wife, but at a certain point, he decided to portray her. This was for the girl, the beginning of her end, because she grew weaker and weaker with the time, laying in the darkness of an high-turret. The painter didn’t notice or didn’t care this, and when the portrait was completed, he realized that his wife wad dead.
The narrator (as protagonist)
Pedro (the valet)
The woman of the oval portrait (the oval portrait)
The narrator is not physical described, like all the character but the young girl. We know that he is wounded, but we don’t know the cause. He has a valet, so he was maybe on a mission. After seeing a lot of those strange paintings, he takes passion for art, and tries to understand the mind of the painter, making use of the book that describes all the paintings. However, we can’t know neither how old he is, nor anything about his family nor about his story (before the facts he tells). In the mystery, is also his end after the reading of the oval portrait. The narrator is also another victim of art, indeed he falls in love like the painter for art and for painting.
Pedro is the valet and the adventure mate of the narrator. He is not very taken in consideration in the story, but he always obeys his master. Very probably there was a good relationship between the narrator and the valet, in so far this latter could escape and abandon his master in loneliness, but he did not. So, he is also the symbol of the respect and the constancy. He never speaks in the story, not even indirectly, and takes care of his master, always trying to satisfy him. Besides, he was very courageous and brave, because he found the château and made accessible the entrance for his master. Pedro is the only one in the story of which we know the name.
The painter is the object of speculation of book’s description. He is described by the book as a passionate, studious and austere man. It is also written that he had already a bride in his own art, and we can understand that he loved art more than anything other. He was also art-wild, moody, and mad. Indeed, taken by the passion of the art, he didn’t notice (or he didn’t want to stop with the portrait) that his wife didn’t feel good, and needed another place where she could lie. The painter is so the symbol of the fanaticism, that in the story takes the face of the art.
The woman depicted in the oval portrait, is the victim of painter’s fanaticism. She is described by the book too. It is written that she was a maiden of rarest beauty, that she always smiled, full of light, full of glee, that loved the painter and everything. There was just a thing that she hated: the Art. She thought, and was right, that the painter loved art more than her, and for his exaggerate spending of time in painting, she was not happy when she realized that his husband wanted to portray her. However she was humble and obedient, and obeyed the painter. She was in a full-blown battle with the art, but she lost the battle, and died. She looks like alive to the protagonist because she is life itself, and right with these words, said by the painter, she died, transferring her life to the portrait.