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Point of View

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Definitions and information on literary point of view

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Point of View

  1. 1. Point of View
  2. 2. Narrative Why? <ul><li>In literary fiction, the question of who tells the story, and therefore, how it gets told has assumed special importance. It can be used to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Help create and shape characterization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create suspense </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Convey theme/message </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many other purposes to be determined by the writer </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. How to Determine POV? <ul><li>Asking the questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who tells the story? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How much is the narrator allowed to know? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To what extent does the narrator look inside the characters and report their thoughts and feelings? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Types of POV <ul><li>Third Person Omniscient </li></ul><ul><li>Third Person Limited </li></ul><ul><li>Objective (Dramatic) </li></ul><ul><li>First Person </li></ul>
  5. 5. Third Person Omniscient <ul><li>Omniscient means “all knowing” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Narrator is free to go wherever they wish, to peer inside the minds and hearts of characters at will and tell us what they are thinking or feeling. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Narrator interprets and comments on behavior. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They know all. They can tell us as much or as little as they please. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Third Person Omniscient <ul><li>Pros </li></ul><ul><li>Very flexible narration and provides the widest scope for telling a story. </li></ul><ul><li>Cons </li></ul><ul><li>It is the most subject to abuse. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Constant danger that the narrator is coming between the reader and the story. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The shifting of viewpoint from character to character can breakdown coherence and unity in the story. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Third Person Limited <ul><li>The story is told in the third person but is limited to one or two characters in the story, or “Point of View” characters. </li></ul><ul><li>Narration may move inside or outside of the characters but may not move to other characters except through the eyes of the POV character. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Third Person Limited <ul><li>Pros </li></ul><ul><li>More closely approximates real life: we normally are not able to understand/know the thoughts and feelings of everyone around us. </li></ul><ul><li>It becomes a unifying element in the story. </li></ul><ul><li>Allows the narration to create characterization. </li></ul><ul><li>Cons </li></ul><ul><li>Limited field of observation which can make sometimes lead to clumsy plot devices. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Objective/Dramatic <ul><li>The narrator disappears into a kind of roving camera. The camera can go anywhere, but can only record what is seen and heard. </li></ul><ul><li>It cannot comment, interpret, or enter a character’s mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Readers become “spectators.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Objective/Dramatic <ul><li>Pros </li></ul><ul><li>Pure interaction between the reader and the text. The narrator is never allowed to draw conclusions so all inferences are made by the reader. </li></ul><ul><li>No opportunity for the author to offer direct interpretation. </li></ul><ul><li>Relies exclusively on action and dialogue. </li></ul>
  11. 11. First Person <ul><li>The narrator is actually a character within the story itself. </li></ul><ul><li>Narrator tells the story in the first person. </li></ul><ul><li>May be a major or minor character, protagonist or observer. This choice is usually very important. </li></ul>
  12. 12. First Person <ul><li>Pros </li></ul><ul><li>Most closely approximates real life. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps to eliminate barriers between the reader and the text that an intrusive narration can sometimes create. </li></ul><ul><li>Talented writers can use this to great effect in characterization and irony. </li></ul><ul><li>Cons </li></ul><ul><li>Allows no opportunity for direct interpretation by the author. </li></ul><ul><li>Constant danger that the narrator will exceed their own sensitivity, knowledge, powers of language, etc. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Exercise <ul><li>For the following stories, identify the point of view and then write an exploration of why that choice was an effective choice by the writer. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyday Use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Miss Brill </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Rose for Emily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Lottery </li></ul></ul>

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