Who is narrating "The Story of an Hour"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When we consider narration in any given work of literature, we are actually thinking about point of view and the choice that the author has made in terms of how to tell the story, or from which point of view the story is being told. There are three points of view in literature. Firstly, the first person point of view, which is easily recognisable because it is told from the point of view of one of the characters in the story, so it is told in the first person ("I"). Secondly, there is the omniscient, or all-knowing narrator, who is outside of the story but looks in on it much like a god-like figure looking down on the action. This narrator has access to the thoughts and emotions of every character and is able to enter their brains at will. Lastly, the third person limited narrator is told in the third person ("he" or "she") and is likewise told by a narrator who is outside of the action, but one who only follows one character around. Thus in this case the narrator does have access to the thoughts and feelings of only one character, rather than every character.

If we consider the three different types of point of view outlined above, it becomes clear that the point of view of this feminist classic is the omniscient narrator. The narrator is outside of the action, is not a given character within the story, and is able to enter into the thoughts and feelings of every character. Consider the following extract:

There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, raching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the colour that filled the air.

Clearly here the story is told in the third person, and the way that the narrator is able to tell us the thoughts and feelings of Mrs. Mallard, as well as her sister elsewhere in the story, reveals that Mansfield has chosen to write this story using the omniscient point of view.

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