Using Point of View in Your Research Paper Help
Introduction to Point of View
Establishing and writing with a consistent point of view is just like creating a believable and strong tone in your work. Once you establish your perspective and a persuasive technique, the rest is easy. This lesson will discuss different points of view, the literary effects each one of them produces, and which point of view will be most helpful for you and your work.
You may remember a "points of view" lesson from your English classes in school. In works of literature or fiction in which events and characters are created from an author's imagination, it is very obvious to tell which point of view an author has used to tell a story. For instance, the usual points of view that an author can choose from are:
- First person singular narration = I
- Third person narration = he, she, or they
- First person plural narration = we
In other words, if an author wants to describe a character who drives a car into a tree on a dark night, he or she can choose to tell the action through one of these perspectives and from distinct points of view. For example an author might begin by stating:
Example A: First Person Narration
"It was a dark night. I didn't see the tree in the fog and my uncertainty mounted as the dim streetlights took on the quality of a dream. As I strained to see beyond my fogged windshield, I felt an abrupt jolt as the front of my car went headfirst into a tree."
Example B: Third Person Narration
"It was a dark night. She (or He or a character's name—for example, Ann) didn't see the tree in the fog and her (or his) uncertainty mounted as the dim streetlights took on the quality of a dream. As she (or he) strained to see beyond her (or his) fogged windshield, she (or he) felt an abrupt jolt as the front of her (or his) car went headfirst into a tree."
Example C: First Person Plural
"It was a dark night. We didn't see the tree in the fog and our uncertainty mounted as the dim streetlights took on the quality of a dream. As we strained to see beyond our fogged windshield, we felt an abrupt jolt as the front of our car went headfirst into a tree."
As you can see, each example contains the exact same factual information, but each of the different points of view produces a distinctive effect. For example, first person narration is usually the most immediate—there is less distance between writer and reader, and using the first person usually creates a strong bond between the narrator and the audience. Sometimes, however, authors prefer to use third person narration because it gives them more freedom. They are not constricted by or limited to the interior thoughts of one character, but instead, can move freely from one character to the other. Finally, the first person plural form of narration can produce a very eerie and all–knowing effect. In the short story "A Rose for Emily," by William Faulkner, an entire town narrates the mysterious death of the main character.
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