Narrator

Narrator

A narrator is, within any story (literary work, movie, play, verbal account, etc.), the fictional or non-fictional, personal or impersonal entity who tells the story to the audience. When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the viewpoint character. The narrator is one of three entities responsible for story-telling of any kind. The others are the author and the audience; the latter called the "reader" when referring specifically to literature.

The author and the audience both inhabit the real world. It is the author's function to create the universe, people, and events within the story. It is the audience's function to understand and interpret the story. The narrator only exists within the world of the story (and only there—although in non-fiction the narrator and the author can share the same persona, since the real world and the world of the story may be the same) and present it in a way the audience can comprehend.

A narrator may tell the story from his own point of view (as a fictive entity) or from the point of view of one of the characters in the story. The act or process of telling the particulars of a story is referred to as narration. Along with exposition, argumentation, and description, narration (broadly defined) is one of four rhetorical modes of discourse. More narrowly defined, narration is the fiction-writing mode whereby the narrator communicates directly to the reader.

The concept of the unreliable narrator (as opposed to "author") became more prominent with the rise of the novel in the 18th century. Until the late 19th century, literary criticism as an academic exercise dealt solely with poetry (including epic poems like the Iliad and Paradise Lost, and poetic drama like Shakespeare). Most poems did not have a narrator distinct from the author. But novels, with their immersive fictional worlds, created a problem, especially when the narrator's views differed significantly[clarification needed] from those of the author.

Contents

Types of narrators

Narrative modes

A writer's choice of narrator is crucial for the way a work fiction is perceived by the reader. Most narrators present their story from one of the following perspectives (called narrative modes): first-person, or third-person limited or omniscient. Generally, a first-person narrator brings greater focus on the feelings, opinions, and perceptions of a particular character in a story, and on how the character views the world and the views of other characters. If the writer's intention is to get inside the world of a character, then it is a good choice, although a third-person limited narrator is an alternative that does not require the writer to reveal all that a first-person character would know. By contrast, a third-person omniscient narrator gives a panoramic view of the world of the story, looking into many characters and into the broader background of a story. A third-person omniscient narrator can tell feelings of every character. For stories in which the context and the views of many characters are important, a third-person narrator is a better choice. However, a third-person narrator does not need to be an omnipresent guide, but instead may merely be the protagonist referring to himself in the third person (also known as third person limited narrator).

Multiple narrators

A writer may choose to let several narrators tell the story from different points of view. Then it is up to the reader to decide which narrator seems most reliable for each part of the story. It may refer to the style of the writer in which he/she expresses the paragraph written. See for instance the works of Louise Erdrich. William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying is a prime example of the use of multiple narrators. Faulkner employs stream of consciousness by narrating the story from the first person view of multiple characters. Each chapter is devoted to the voice of a single character after whom it is titled. Some writers employ an alternate form of this style, in which multiple characters narrate the story at once, or at least a single character narrates the actions of a group of characters while never referring to a "me", and only to a "we" of the group. The technique of narrating from the point of view of a group as opposed to an individual can create a dissociative effect of observation, as if a Greek chorus, or personalize the story further by providing the reader with the knowledge and experience of a party involved in the story, without the unrelatable specifics of an individual personality or character. Examples of first-person plural narration include Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted and Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides.

In literary work, the narrator is the person who tells the story. Point of view is the narrators relationship to the story. In a story using first-person point of view, the narrator is a character in the story. The reader see everything thought that character's eyes. In a work with third-person limited point of view, the narrator is outside the story and reveals the thoughts and feelings of only one character.

See also

References

External links


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  • narrator — [nar′āt΄ər, nar′ətər; na rāt′ər, nərāt′ər] n. 〚L < narratus: see NARRATE〛 1. a person who relates a story or account 2. a person who reads descriptive or narrative passages, as between scenes of a play * * * See narratability. * * * ▪ …   Universalium

  • narrator — (n.) 1610s, from L. narrator a relater, narrator, historian, agent noun from narrat , stem of narrare to tell, relate (see NARRATION (Cf. narration)). In sense of a commentator in a radio program it is from 1941 …   Etymology dictionary

  • narrator — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. mos I, Mc. narratororze; lm M. narratororzy {{/stl 8}}{{stl 7}} w utworze epickim: fikcyjna osoba przedstawiająca przebieg akcji; też: osoba opowiadająca : {{/stl 7}}{{stl 10}}Narrator wszystkowiedzący. Być świetnym,… …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • Narrator — Nar*ra tor, n. [L.] One who narrates; one who relates a series of events or transactions. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • narrator — index informant Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • narrator — [n] storyteller author, chronicler, describer, novelist, raconteur, reporter, teller of tales, writer, yarn spinner; concepts 348,356 …   New thesaurus

  • narrator — [nar′āt΄ər, nar′ətər; na rāt′ər, nərāt′ər] n. [L < narratus: see NARRATE] 1. a person who relates a story or account 2. a person who reads descriptive or narrative passages, as between scenes of a play …   English World dictionary

  • narrator — UK [nəˈreɪtə(r)] / US [ˌnəˈreɪtər] noun [countable] Word forms narrator : singular narrator plural narrators 1) someone who tells the story in a novel or film Marcel is the first person narrator of the novel. 2) someone whose voice explains what… …   English dictionary

  • narrator — nar|ra|tor [ ,nə reıtər ] noun count 1. ) someone who tells the story in a novel or movie: Marcel is the first person narrator of the novel. 2. ) someone whose voice explains what is happening in a television program or movie, but who you do not… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • narrator — m IV, DB. a, Ms. narratororze; lm M. narratororzy, DB. ów «osoba opowiadająca; w utworze literackim: postać opowiadająca przebieg akcji» Świetny, błyskotliwy, urodzony narrator. Ukryty, dyskretny narrator. ‹łac.› …   Słownik języka polskiego


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