Guide to Literary Terms Questions and Answers

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Man Vs Self Definition

What are the definitions of the literary terms: Man vs. self (conflict) limited point of view, and omniscient point of view?


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shakespeareguru eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Man versus self can aslo be a conflict for a character who is choosing between action for the good of Mankind versus action for selfish good.  A character might have a moment in which they have an opportunity, for example, to give thier life for the good of humanity.  The decision to take this step, forfeit the good of self to benefit Mankind would fit this conflict.

Omniscient and limited points of view only really work when there is a narrative voice or narrator.  A play probably isn't the best example here, rather a novel, which must always choose to exercise at least one narrative point of view.  Novels like Catcher In the Rye or Huckleberry Finn are told in the first person, a limited point of view, while novels by a writer like Henry James don't take one particular character's perspective, but present the story so that the reader has omniscience, or full perspective on all the action, unhindered by one particular character's point of view.

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missy575 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A man vs. self conflict will occur when a character is struggling with themselves on the inside. This type of conflict can occur with other conflicts as well. Anytime a character struggles with a moral dilemma or decision we see this at work. If for example a character had to choose whether to live themselves, or provide continued life for a spouse, that struggle through the decision would be this man vs. self conflict.

The limited point of view occurs as audience members don't get to see everything that is going on. I find this at work in the story of The Great Gatsby in chapter 5. One character, our narrator, goes outside leaving two other characters alone for 30 minutes. A great deal must have happened during that time, but we as audience members never know because the narrator didn't know either, so he can't tell us.

The omniscient point of view occurs when we are an all knowing audience. The narrator tells us everything we need to know but doesn't necessarily demostrate if characters know as much as we do. This happens a lot in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.


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