Department of English
Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University
Point of View
Every story has a narrator, who presents the action from a particular, identifiable point of view. The narrator may be a character in the story who speaks in the first person. More often, the narrator views the action from a vantage point outside the story, speaking in the third person. When such a narrator seems to know everything about all the characters, he may be called omniscient. Sometimes a narrator will seem to know everything about only one character, or perhaps two, offering a kind of selective omniscience. The narrator allows us to feel the impact of event on certain characters as if we had complete access to their minds.
Reaske, Christopher R. Mirrors: An Introduction to
Literature. 3rd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1988, 161.
In literature, point of view refers to who narrates a story and how much that narrator knows. In a story told from the first-person point of view, the writer chooses to have a character within the story narrate it, using the first-person pronouns I and me. This method of storytelling lets the reader see and know only what that character, the narrator, sees and knows.
Literature and Language: English and World
Literature. Evanston, Illinois: McDougal, Little & Co., 1992, 153.
When planning a story, an author usually chooses between first-person point of view, in which the narrator is a character, and third-person point of view, in which the narrator is not a story participant.
Third-person narrators can be classified as omniscient or limited, depending on how much they know. In the omniscient point of view, the narrator is all-knowing and so can describe every character's thoughts. By contrast, a narrator in a third-person limited point of view possesses limited knowledge, often confined to one or two characters.
Literature and Language: English and World Literature. Evanston, Illinois: McDougal, Little & Co., 1992, 615.
narrative point of view
narrator (reliable, unreliable/fallible)
points of view
limited omniscient (major, minor character)
first person (major, minor character; singular, plural)
inside and outside the character's mind
stream of consciousness
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Last updated December 17, 2008