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Narrators in Literature: Types and Definitions
The style of writing, plot perspective, or even characters' attributes depend on the narrators.
Narrators in literature have an essential purpose to offer. If we can identify different narrators in literature, it will be easier to understand the perspective. Narrators are the backbone of fictional literary works. This tutorial will assist in getting the essential details on narrators in literature.
Who is a Narrator?
A narrator is a person or voice who tells a story or narrates a literary work. The story or the literary work is described from the narrator's point of view. A narrator can be part of the text. But it is not mandatory for the narrator in literature to be part of the text. The presence of narrators is found in fictional stories, novels or even narrative poems. The narrator may or may not be present in the events narrated in the literature.
The narrator's different perspective on narrating an event or character discloses many facets of the narrative. The readers get some space to think and summarise their conclusion on various parts of the literature. So, the narrator is not only a describer but also a guide. It guides the reader to get the correct knowledge from the literature without getting lost among the characters and the plot.
In the novel by Robin Sharma, 'The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,' the narrator is John. The whole story is known to the readers mainly by the conversations between John and Julian Mantel, who eventually changed his perspectives about life.
Types of Narrators
If you understand the importance of the narrators in literature, it will be easier to understand the message the writer conveys. There are primarily three types of narrators present in English literature, and the idea of pronouns helps you to understand the role of narrators in a better way.
It narrates using the pronouns 'me', 'our', 'I', 'ours', 'we', 'us', and 'mine'. The narrator gets involved with the reader directly by narrating from the first-person point of view. The first-person narrator is the part of fiction or literature.
In the novel 'The Catcher in the Rye' by J.D. Salinger, we see the first-person narrator. Everything the reader experience is from the character Caulfield's perspective.
The second-person narrator narrates, addressing the reader. It uses the pronoun 'you', 'your' and 'yours to narrate any fictional story or novel. The second-person narrator is not popular in the literature. The reader becomes confused with the second-person narrator because it does not specify if the reader is getting a part in the narrative.
'Ghost Light' by Joseph O'Connor is a novel that shows the ups and downs of the life of an Irish actress, Maire O'Neill or Molly Allgood. This impactful novel is an incredible example of the second-person narrative. We see the growth and fall of the relationship between the characters John Millington Synge and Molly Allgood through the second-person point of view.
The third-person narrator narrates with the pronouns he, his, she, him, her, they, them, hers and theirs.
There are two types of third-person narrators used in the literature.
They are -
Third-person Limited Narrator: It narrates everything from the third-person point of view using the pronouns mentioned before. And such a narrator can be the part of the event intruding on the narration.
It can also stay outside of the incidents in the narrative. Such narrators comment on the characters too. The narrator is 'limited' because such a narrator does not have the authority to comment on the characters outside a story's scenes. When this narrator is present around the characters, it can comment on these.
Among the most popular series of novels, we must mention Harry Potter's series of J. K Rowling has the 'third-person limited point of view'. For example, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets shows Harry's thoughts but mainly focuses on the events related to the characters with the third person limited point of view.
Third-person Omniscient Narrator: This narrator explains and narrates staying outside the narrative and its events. Such narrators cannot be the part or character of the narrative. It is called a 'third-person omniscient narrator because the narrator acts like knowing everything or being aware of everything that happens.
The narrator's presence is felt everywhere in the text by the readers. And the narrator acts as the omniscient God who knows all. This type of narrator is usual in stories and novels or fictional narratives.
Jane Austen's famous novel Pride and Prejudice is an example of the third-person omniscient narrative point of view. The narrator is aware of the incidents and thoughts of the character and acts like an omniscient presence.
It discloses the characteristics of the characters too. Like, the narrator comments on Mrs Bennet's nature, mentioning her as "a woman of mean understanding". The narrator's point of view is similar to Elizabeth Bennet's point of view in the novel.
Significance of Narrator's Point of View
The narrator's point of view builds a psychic connection between the narrative and the reader. It mentors the reader to get a clear idea of the characters, plot and incidents behind the characters' dialogues.
First-person, second-person and third-person points of view work differently to establish the respective points of view. Apart from these, there is the dramatic point of view or no point of view where the narrator is absent.
It is essential to understand the narrator's purpose in the narrative. It helps to unfold the vital perspectives of the narrative.
A narrator's role is like the visible or invisible guide to the readers.
Q1. What do you understand by the word 'narrator' in literature?
Ans. A narrator is like a storyteller's voice, sometimes a character in a narrative or the writer itself. A narrator may or may not be part of the narrative.
Q2. What are the primary types of narrators?
Ans. The primary three types of narrators are
- Second-person and
- Third-person narrator.
Q3. What is the first-person narrator?
Ans. The first-person narrator narrates the literature (story, novel or narrative poems) from the first-person point of view. The first-person narrator narrates with me, our, I, ours, we, us and mine.
Q4. How are narrators important in literature?
Ans. Narrators play an essential role in narrating the facts and views on the characters, plot and incidents. And narrators connect the reader with the narrative.
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