Student: Mentor: English Department
Introduction to literary theory
Viewpoints in literature
Sarajevo, February 2010
A viewpoint in literature is the point of view from which the narrator tells us the story. The basic division of viewpoints is external and internal viewpoints. External viewpoint is used if the narrator is not a part of the story himself, but is rather telling us about other people who are participants of the story. It can be omniscient and objective. Omniscient narration is the type of narration in which the narrator is somewhat a God-like figure. He knows all the characters of the story, he knows their thoughts and emotions, knows the relationships between them and he passes judgment on them. Not only does he know all the thoughts of the characters, but he also knows the things that are unknown to the characters, and can in some cases know things that no human being could possibly know (e.g., what the first conscious creature felt like as it climbed out of the primordial ooze, in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). A good example of the omniscient third person narration is “Tom Jones” by H. Fielding. In this novel the reading experience is enriched by the presence of the all knowing figure who guides us trough the action, and gives us all the little details on the characters and the events. Other famous examples of the omniscient narration in literature are J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, George Eliot’s Middlemarch etc. The other type of external viewpoint is objective viewpoint. This viewpoint, also known as “fly on the wall” approach is unbiased and without some of the details one may find in the omniscient point of view. The author doesn’t give us emotions and thoughts of the characters, but only gives us a realistic view of the character’s actions. He...
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