What advantages does narrative point of view give an author?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Point of view is the vantage point. the angle of the camera, or the lens through which the reader perceives the narrative of an author.   So, depending upon the intent of the author, one of the three points of view is utilised.  Here are the advantages of each:

First person point of view - When the main character narrates, the reader is afforded an insight into the thoughts and feelings of the character.  However, the reader must go beyond what this narrator says since no single person can present an objective view of other characters.  Yet, this unreliable first person narrator is effective for gothic writers or writers of the psychological narrative who want the reader to view the narrative through this distorted lens.

Third person-limited point of view occurs with the narrative being told by an outsider or a character who acts more as one witnessing the main actions than participating in them.  In some narratives, objective point of view switches from one character to another, thus affording the reader the perspective of many characters--a perspective that affords the reader variations that allow him/her to establish the reality of the narrative.

Third person-omniscient point of view is, in essence, the vantage point that encompasses the feelings and thoughts of all the characters.  It is the vantage point that almost forces the author's opinions of the characters upon the reader.  So, the advantage of this point of view is that there is little ambiguity in the narrative.  

With reference to the story "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne creates an intentional ambiguity with his limited third-person narrator.  For, the reader does not know whether Goodman dreamt what has occurred in the forest or he truly has witnessed something at the Black Mass with others and his wife Faith.  Thus, the narrator leaves the reader to decide upon the nature of sin and Puritan condemnation.


brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Writing from the narrative point of view gives the writer the advantage of being able to seamlessly integrate storyline into reflection, setting, character background, and dialogue.  This allows the reader to gain important information and insight into the themes and purpose of a story, and is also much easier to write as an author.

Think about writing a diary, and how much creative control that gives you over the pace and direction of what you write.  You are writing from a narrative point of view as everything is your thoughts, or your actions and memories.  You are able to determine who to include, what to say about them and to switch back and forth between conversational style and narrative effortlessly.  An author writing a narrative point of view has all the same advantages.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In my opinion, telling a story from the point of view of a narrator offers an author certain advantages.

Mostly, I think that using a narrator frees the author from having to be constrained by the point of view of a particular character.  For example, the narrator can be much more impartial about various characters than a character could be.

In addition, the use of an omniscient narrator has even more benefits.  The narrator can tell us what the characters are thinking and other such things which a character could not tell us (except for his/her own thoughts).

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