Literary Terms

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What is the definition of 'Point of View' in literary terms?

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As a literary device, "point of view" or perspective can be determined by the author's (or character's) judgment or opinion on a specific topic or theme. However, point of view can also be analyzed by time and space.  Time and space are closely related to the setting of a story or poem, but they also influence one's perspective. For example, a character living in the 1800s wouldn't know anything about our technology, so the things s/he says and does will be based on that criteria.

If you have an assignment to analyze the point of view of a certain character, consider exactly what the directions say so you can answer correctly.  Is the assignment asking you what a character's point of view of a certain issues is? Or does the assignment have to do with the position in which the character finds himself/herself?

Another way of looking at it would be to put yourself in the shoes of the character or author and show that you can understand their position in whatever is going on.

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Point of view is the perspective or angle from which a story is told. The narrator may be using a pronoun like "I," indicating a first-person narrator, typically a character in the story, telling about events in which he was probably involved. This point of view has the advantage of being more believable because the character, whether a major, minor, or merely a witness, actually experienced the events.

If the narrator, on the other hand, is not part of the action but merely observes what's going on, he or she may use pronouns like "he,""she," or "they" to refer to characters. This detached perspective may come from a narrator who is not a character at all in the story, merely a voice created by the author to tell the story. This point of view is called third-person.

Two other terms used to describe point of view are omniscient and limited omniscient. An omniscient narrator can tell what all of the characters are saying, doing, and thinking. A limited omniscient narrator, however, can reveal only what other characters are doing and saying, not their thoughts.

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