Without the “host of phantom listeners” in the poem, there would be nothing exceptional about the narrative that it relates. Most of the mystery and most of the dramatic interest in the poem emanates from the “phantom listeners.” It is their “strangeness” and their “stillness” to which we are drawn.
The Traveller is really only important inasmuch as he acts as the medium by which we can be exposed to the listeners. It is significant that he affords us a limited, restricted perspective. We know only as much as he does, which is very little. He is a functional character, serving a limited but essential purpose.
At the end of the poem, the poet shifts the perspective from which the story is told, to the listeners inside the house. We finish the poem inside the house with the listeners, listening to the “plunging hoofs” of the Traveller’s horse fading into the distance, and the “silence surg[ing] softly backward” into the house once more. This perspective shift indicates that it is the strangeness of the listeners, not the Traveller, that the poet means to leave as the enduring impression in our minds.