What is the point of view in the story "The Devil and Daniel Webster"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When we think about narration and point of view, there are three possible options. Firstly we can have the first person point of view, which is easily identifiable because the story is told in the first person (using "I") from the point of view of one of the characters who is actually in the story and part of the action. Secondly, we can have an omniscient point of view, which means that the narrator literally "knows everything" and assumes a god-like position from outside the story, looking in and having access to the thoughts, feelings and motivations of all characters. Lastly, and sometimes this is point of view is difficult to identify, we have the third person limited point of view, which is told by an impersonal narrator again who is outside of the story, but one who follows the action from the point of view of one character alone. Therefore we have access to the thoughts and feelings of one character alone, rather than the omniscient point of view, which gives us access to all characters.

Considering this great story, then, that from the beginning we are told the story using an omniscient point of view. The narrator clearly is outside of the tale, reporting to us what he has heard, and we have access to a number of different characters rather than just one.

chrissybolstad | Student


The Devil and Daniel Webster, is a short story written by Stephen Vincent Benet. This story is written in Third person, omniscient perspective, or point of view. Omniscient means all knowing.  This is where the narrator knows the thoughts of the other characters in the story. We can see an example perspective when the narrator speaks of the main character, Jabez Stone, and tells the audience, "But one day Jabez Stone got sick of the whole business." As a simple spectator, the narrator would have had no way of knowing the feelings of Jabez. He knows the actions of the characters and also the thoughts.

There are other types of perspectives. Another type is Third Person Limited. This is where the story is told from someone looking in, but that person, the narrarator can't read minds. They can only see what you could see if you were there. It would read, "The children went to the zoo and they looked scared when the lion roared."

Another type is, First Person Perspective. In this case, the narrator is telling the story, but they are also a character in the story. The story would be told as, "I went to the store, I saw Cathy and I imagined how lonely she must be, but without speaking to her I turned and went home. After what she did to me in Gym? forget it!" This perspective is useful in showing the thoughts of that particular character. You can really see what they are thinking, regardless of the actions they may or may not take. Sometimes, a first person perspective can be plural, as in "We went to the store and we saw Cathy." but that's not found too often.

Second Person Perspective is also a rare form of perspective but you will see it from time to time. In this case, the peice will read placing you as the subject. For example this is used  in the novel, The Crimson Petal and The White by Michael Faber. "Watch your step, Keep your wits about you; you will need them the city I am bring you to is vast and intricate and you have not been here before"

Depending on the type of story you are writing and the messages and feeling you want to convey you will want to choose the type of perspective that best works for you!

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The Devil and Daniel Webster

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