Exploring POV: a Guide
*Note: This text illustrates the learning aid provided below.
In literature, writers use different techniques to tell stories. "Point of view," or "POV," is an important one. Let's look at the map below together to see how POV affects how we, as readers, experience their stories.
What is a point of view (POV)?
To put it simply, it is the narrative perspective from which a story is told, also referred to as "POV." It works like the camera angle in a movie or a lens. It is how the author shows us the events, emotions, and experiences of the characters. The artistic decision about POV can shape the story telling process and define how we relate with the story.
First-person point of view:
The protagonist in the story tells us what is going on uses words like "I." The readers' feeling is like being right beside the character and living the same events, emotions, and experiences.
For example, in "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë, we learn everything from Jane's point of view.
Charlotte Brontë makes Jane the storyteller. Jane uses "I" to tell us her thoughts and feelings. We believe we gain a deeper understanding of Jane's thoughts and feelings.
Second-person point of view:
Sometimes, in special books, the writer talks directly to us, the readers, using "you," and immediately we are part of a game. You might find this style in "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. This POV is quite uncommon.
Example: "Choose Your Own Adventure" Series
In these books, you become the main character. The book talks to you, asking you to make choices. For example, "You find two paths in the woods. To go left, turn to page 42; to go right, turn to page 56." It feels like you are really in the story. But remember, this style is more common in interactive books.
Third-Person Point of view:
A narrator, outside of the plot, presents the events involving the characters, typically referred to as "he," "she," or "they." There are three types of third-person narrators: omniscient, limited omniscient, and objective.
An omniscient narrator knows everything about the story (including events happening simultaneously in different places and the characters' inner thoughts). In "Pride and Prejudice," for example, the omniscient narrator provides readers with knowledge and thoughts that the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, does not know herself.
We define the narrator as obtrusive when he/she comments on the characters and events, as in Charles Dickens' "Hard Times." It is defined as an unobtrusive narrator if the narrator takes on a more passive position, similar to that of a camera, as, for example, in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Two Towers."
An objective narrator shows the events but without telling what the characters are thinking or feeling. In Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," for example, the narrator describes what the old fisherman, Santiago, does while battling a large fish. The narrator, however, does not disclose Santiago's thoughts or feelings.
A limited narrator is similar to a storyteller who closely aligns with a certain character, acting as his/her intimate observer and confidant.Consider the universe of Jane Austen's "Emma," in which the narrator focuses on the novel's main character, Emma Woodhouse's, experiences, ideas, and feelings. Readers view the world through Emma's eyes, but they do not have access to the entire range of other characters' thoughts and feelings to the same extent that Emma does. It's like reading the narrative from Emma's diary.
Varied Narrative Structures:
Sometimes stories have a unique way of conveying information. Three characters in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" recount their stories; thus, we have many distinct points of view.
Example: "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley
In "Frankenstein," three characters discuss their experiences. It is like getting several versions of what is going on. Looking at the story from a variety of perspectives can be quite intriguing.
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LnT For readers seeking a more detailed exploration of narrators and points of view, Valentina Tenedini has compiled a comprehensive chart on this topic, available at [www.readytoteach.it]. It offers further insights and examples for those interested in delving deeper into this subject