What point of view is used in "A Haunted House," a short story by Virginia Woolf ?

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The events of this story are told through the thoughts of the current inhabitant of the house, but despite being a first person point of view, we also see events from the (imagined) perspective of the ghosts in the house, and even from the house itself.

Virginia Woolf is known...

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The events of this story are told through the thoughts of the current inhabitant of the house, but despite being a first person point of view, we also see events from the (imagined) perspective of the ghosts in the house, and even from the house itself.

Virginia Woolf is known for stream-of-consciousness writing, a literary style that reveals a person’ s thoughts and reactions in a sometimes confusing continual flow. This technique is used in “A Haunted House” so the clue to working out the point of view is to consider whose thoughts are revealed in this stream-of-consciousness. To work out point of view in a story it is helpful also to consider the pronouns used to work out the identity of the narrator.

Although in the first sentence the ‘you’ might lead the reader to wonder about second person narration, it quickly becomes clear that there is a first person emphasis in the story, seen in the lines “but it wasn’t you that woke us,” “tired of reading, one might rise,” and especially “waking, I cry.”

While the events are apparently narrated by the woman who currently lives in the house, we also see events beyond her direct experience. She describes the ghostly couple searching the house and finding the living couple asleep: “Stooping, holding their silver lamp above us, long they look and deeply.” Here there is a certain level of omniscience from the narrator, who despite being asleep tells the reader what is happening and how the ghosts are reacting. In fact, in this paragraph we see how the point of view slips into more of a third person point of view: “the faces pondering; the faces that search the sleepers and seek their hidden joy.” The sleeping couple has turned from ‘us’ into ‘the sleepers.’

We gain insight into the interweaving of experience and points of view through considering the line “Death was the glass; death was between us.” It shows the separate realms of the two couples (the living couple who currently live in the house, and the ghost couple who haunt it), but also their interconnection. It is not a solid wall that separates them, but glass, with all its suggestion of visibility and clarity. The narrative voice is both a participant and an observer. The modernist style allows the narrator to fluidly move in and out of different perspectives—those of the living couple, the ghosts, and even the house with its commentary “safe, safe”—thereby questioning the boundaries and separateness of existence, and in doing so, questioning the limits of literary conventions regarding narrative point of view.

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The point of view in Virginia's Woolf's A Haunted House is first person. As always, Virginia Woolf, an instrumental figure in the Bloomsbury Group and an important Modernist writer, employs modernist fragmentation, as a result, the narrative doesn't always lend itself to recognizable point of view formulation. Further, the narrator, the first person participant in and observer of the ghosts' search, quotes the ghosts in an unconventional manner, as in:

"Kisses without number." "Waking in the morning--" "Silver between the trees--"

which also helps to camouflage the point of view. Plus, Woolf uses a form of dialogue that is indirect attribution of speech, as in the last portion of:

...hung upon the walls, pendant from the ceiling--what? My hands were empty.

which further obscures the point of view. However, the first person participant (and observer) point of view is made clear in the sentence, "But it wasn't that you woke us" and is confirmed in one of the final sentences, "Waking, I cry "Oh, is this your buried treasure?"

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