Point of view in narrative fiction

With reference to at least two books, explore the ways that viewpoint informs our reading of narrative fiction

Point of view is the positioning from which the action of any narrative is viewed and shown to the audience. While there are various forms of perspective, the principle distinctions often cited are third person narratives and first person narratives. The third person narrator may be omniscient, and it is therefore able to show an unrestricted knowledge of the story's events from outside the house them. There can be an alternate form of third person narrator: one who may confine the reader's knowledge of events by whatever is noticed by a single identity or small band of characters. Limited viewpoint allows the storyplot to be told by the protagonist of the storyline and therefore allows the reader to feel a larger link with that character and empathise with or dislike them depending on the reader's personal preference, or the author's projection. This point of view is the 'limited point of view'. The first person narrative perspective is often restricted to his / her partial knowledge and experience. Therefore, there is limited usage of the feelings and covered thoughts of the other personas in that narrative. Jane Austen prolonged this is of perspective through her use and refinement of free and indirect discourse. By this method, Jane Austen merged the thoughts of her narrators and of her individuals. However, it still remains generally a form of third person narration and it utilises a few of the characteristics of first person direct speech. Through this method Austen gives the audience a much closer romance to the people, whilst enabling the author to mention personal tips of view on given situations.

Defoe's Moll Flanders is the storyline of eponymous figure and her infamous, often illegal, life. The narrative is written in first person, seen through the eye of an older reminiscent Moll. Moll Flanders can be an 'autobiographical' profile, which views Moll Flanders express her life up until the point of her repentance in Newgate Jail. Defoe is experimenting with the narrative form in this book by writing an autobiographical confession of a woman. Written from Moll's point of view, it allows the audience to empathise with Moll and ultimately begin to value what happens to her. As the situations of the narrative are seen through the eyes of Moll there are specific occasions of Moll's life that remain and ambiguous. Moll as the narrator can set the firmness and tempo of the narrative, she can pick to get into great depth about happenings in her life, or skim over them as she pleases, for example the information on Moll's first matrimony are limited to one page, demonstrating how unimportant were the five many years of her matrimony to Robin.

Defoe's concept of perspective was to commit himself to the fiction of Moll's life, while utilising his imagination to fully express a seemingly factual consideration of events. This juxtaposition of styles allowed Defoe to present Moll's point of view. Moll's viewpoint is expressed throughout and it is the only viewpoint that is common in the novel. Based on the preface, the storyline that Moll relates has only been edited by Defoe. He obviously points out that is for the sake of decency. Matching to Defoe, Moll's words were, 'having been written in Terms more like one still in Newgate'[1]. By emphasising that novel is the storyplot of Moll advised by Moll, Defoe has described the point of view of the novel. This description is important to the reader, as it immediately informs them that what they will read is a true account of Moll's life. The reader is instantly linked to Moll much beyond the action of just reading her history. Instead, the reader is aware that they will be seeing occasions from an up-close and even more personal manner. Because of this, the theatre of the narrative is dictated by what Moll selects to exaggerate and what she decides to dismiss or, only briefly comment upon. The tensions between these and the readers' close link with Moll through the first person perspective drive the narrative. Utilising this narrative technique, Defoe creates a character by which the reader can feel and experience Moll's particular and peculiar notion of the world and compare it to the globe as it is. As the book is allegedly autobiographical, and more so that Moll is obviously telling her account near the end of her life, this combination of narrative techniques creates a two times perspective: there are arguably two ladies in this novel, younger, crafty, scheming and immoral Moll and the old, reminiscent, repentant, Moll.

Through telling the storyplot from a more adult and experienced position, the 'elderly' Moll's persona and philosophy filter through into her showing of 'young' Moll's recent. Younger Moll essentially still rules the elderly Moll; her own understanding of life comes from the relating of the experiences. The reader is aligned with the more aged Moll as the reader's sympathies and knowledge of Moll are molded by her escapades as a youthful character. The reader is aware of redemption is forthcoming as it is explained in the title page, however, the audience commences to sympathise with Moll as she inexplicably descends directly into moral ambiguity, crime and prostitution. This almost unconscious double view point of Moll designs the novel and the readers understanding of the type.

Moll's, narration of her life needs the form of her awareness of her former through various levels: innocence, dishonesty, guilt and lastly redemption. Moll's changeover through these phases ultimately hinges upon materials gain. She repeatedly emphasises her accomplishments in gaining material independence and the craft she utilises in obtaining such self-reliance. Defoe uses irony in explaining Moll's boasting in her ascendance to fame, particularly when Moll offers of outdoing the infamous Moll Slash Bag. Moll narrates the story of her former in the nature in which she resided the occasions and, although she narrates with energy and pleasure, she occasionally expresses regret at some occasional events of younger inexperience. Hindsight to Moll is only a way in which she expresses how she would have altered occurrences to obtain made life better for her. For example, she confides that possessed she known then what she now is aware of from experience, her first affair would have been a different matter

. . . easily acquired known his thoughts, and how hard he expected I would be to be gain'd, I might have made my very own terms, and easily had not capitulated for an instantaneous marriage, I would for a maintenance till matrimony, and might have had what I'd;. . . . [2]

Humorously, Moll's sorrow as of this event is indicated, with sincerity. However, the actual fact that she actually is repenting this affair purely on the basis that she would have made it of more benefit to herself is heavily and amusingly ironic. Such repentance and musings on her behalf past allow the reader to comprehend the true dynamics of Moll's personality. The narrative style makes it possible for the reader to truly feel as if they understand Moll. The first person perspective permits a closer examination of who Moll is and what it is that drives her, though it is a point of view that comes from a Moll of more advanced years. You will discover, however, constraints to Moll's viewpoint. Moll's obsession upon independence and financial gain prohibits the audience from viewing beyond that time of view. Moll is capable of supplying the briefest overview of passing years with, for the most part, a few words of comment. In her eye, not much of importance has happened, much like the five years of matrimony to Robin. This will not give Moll a round personality in the eye of the audience, instead, the audience is still left with the impression that there surely is perhaps more to Moll, yet there is no way of extracting it from the written text as Moll's narration allows the reader to see only what she actually is prepared to show you. Conversely, small situations can be hugely significant to Moll, and she offers pages of narrative to particular details she feels are important, ultimately tales of her wanting to win financial self-reliance. Because of this episodic, handled re-telling of occasions, the reader is still left with the impression that life regarding to Moll is a sequence of happenings she takes delight in relating

Through a series of episodes, Defoe creates a persona driven by the necessity for materials gain. Moll is not really a commentator of the problem of the poor in London, and probably Defoe will little to enforce a criticism of London during his period. Assumptions such as these are left to the average person reader. Defoe's Moll feedback upon those ideas that are essential to her. She will not take a look at London as a city filled by prostitutes and whores, instead she considers potential break free routes and what to take in shop glass windows. Her revealing of the storyplot is reliant after her observations and musings of those things that have an effect on her straight

Defoe is true to his art work, to Moll's perspective. Moll never recognizes her qualifications with any real notion, although she is aware of some of the reasons for her youthful depravities. Even though she roams about London, about Britain and America, she notices very little of eighteenth-century panorama[3]

It would be inappropriate however, to only presume that Moll is solely motivated by the necessity for and material gain. Although Moll's viewpoint primarily informs the reader that she actually is considering only the procurement of a better life through material wealth, the audience learns that Moll is motivated by envy for what she considers gentlewomen and by her ceaseless forceful character to dominate her environment and to climb out of situation she was born into. Her descent into a life of criminal offense is powered by her will to set-up a much better life for herself. The irony is noticeable; she cannot remove herself from her origins without initially accepting them and then using the skills implicit in that lifestyle. Moll's point of view throughout the narrative also makes the reader to question whether or not her repentance should be observed as genuine, or maybe another try out by Moll to boost her situation. Given her situation, facing execution, it is totally probable that she seemed to repent, as she cases, '. . . a hidden knowledge suprizing Enjoyment at the Prospect of being a genuine Penitent, and obtaining the Comfort of your Penitent. . . '[4] However this supposed penitence is offset by having less contrition after her transportation: perversely Moll, during her vehicles to America, will all she can to secure herself a good berth for the voyage, further emphasising her need to be better than the rest. The audience is pressured to make their own judgements concerning if Moll truly repents. Her story, so far, of immorality, cannot be ignored. Moll's perspective here will little to inform the audience of her true mother nature. Instead, it asks the reader to indulge their own thoughts on this issue. Moll herself state governments:

"This can be thought inconsistent in itself, and huge from the business enterprise of this Booklet; Particularly, I echo that many of those who may be pleas'd and diverted with the Relation of the crazy and wicked part of my Story, may well not relish this, which is actually the best benefit of my entire life, the most Beneficial to myself, and the most instructive to others; such however am i going to desire allow me the liberty to make my Tale compleat. "[5]

Jane Austen's Persuasion offers another type of perspective of narrative fiction than that of Moll Flanders, by giving the reader with an entirely different point of view. Where as Defoe's book is written in the first person form, allowing the reader to see and find out just what the narrator wants those to, Persuasion is written in the 3rd person. The audience sees the incidents of the narrative unfold through the eyes of the protagonist, Anne Elliot, but also offers the good thing about an authorial tone of voice. This element allows the audience to see a broader view of situations. While the reader discovers more about the protagonist's emotions and emotions, occurrences and action in the narrative are arguably less personal obsessed, because they are in Moll Flanders, and less biased, consuming a more round view of the situation and in so doing allowing the reader to gain a far more affordable and reliable knowledge of the narrative.

Persuasion, like Jane Austen's earlier novels, relies upon her potential to build a narrative established within narrow boundaries. Her narrative never strays beyond family tensions, romance and the communal classes that she would have interacted with. Austen's works are included to a small interpersonal world of the rural/landed gentry and the similar cultural circles inhabiting Bathtub. Walter Scott says of Austen

That dude has a expertise for talking about the involvements and emotions and people of normal life, which is if you ask me the most wonderful I ever met. The top Bow-wow strain I could do myself like any now heading; but the delightful touch, which renders common commonplace things and heroes interesting, from the reality of description and sentiment, is refused me'[6]

This vindication of her methods highlights how well received and regarded as were her novels. In addition, it emphasises the knowing that Austen acquired of personal human relationships and the folks of her modern culture. Her works contain nothing superfluous and she does not introduce to the narrative whatever is in a roundabout way relevant to her central theme of the personal relationships between people.

In Persuasion, there is apparently a change in Austen's design of writing. In her early on novels, Austen makes use of free and indirect speech. However, in Persuasion, Austen uses it to a greater extent. Regarding to Norman Webpage, 'it is Persuasion that offers the fullest and most important use of free indirect conversation in Jane Austen's work, and signifies a amazing and exciting step towards complex experimentation by the end of the novelists life. '[7]

This technique employed by Austen of the 3rd person narrative informed through various details of view through Anne, exhibiting her views, observations and reactions but nonetheless in the form of one third person narrative liberates the reader. Austen is still in charge of the text, guiding the narrative and shaping the readers knowledge of the events, but instead than being merely another observer, speaking by having a protagonist, she empowers Anne Elliot, and gives her a descriptive capability much like Moll's in Moll Flanders. Persuasion is relatively light-textured in comparison to Austen's Emma. Anne Elliot, over the course of the book, and because of the narrative is persuaded to believe better of herself. The visitors sympathies are employed, the use of free indirect discourse allows the reader to see activities from Anne's point of view whilst consuming the wider view of occurrences and in so doing emphasising Anne's situation. Anne considers freely whilst her actions are curtailed. The audience can easily see that she needs to act with the carefree spontaneity she perceives and admires in other heroes, but is unable to achieve this. Everything in the narrative is seen from Anne's perspective. Anne's aptitude for self applied ridicule allows the free indirect style of her thoughts 'can give a seemingly sufficient scope'[8]. The other personas of the novel only have a place with regards to Anne. For example, Benwick, a character of education and literary learning's, is given no immediate speech, instead all of his dialogues are reported by Anne. Because of this focused point of view, Anne seemingly becomes isolated from the vast majority of the heroes within the written text, As Gillian Beverage states,

Anne's predicament is the fact she is not really much a commonwealth as a solitary island, endlessly discoursing within herself on the niceties of enthusiasm and withdrawal, the semiotics of gesture, the significant silence or the burst of doubled speech. She can talk with no one of her feelings, not even Female Anne Russell. The audience is therefore put in a peculiarly tender regards to Anne as the sole other inhabitant of her commonwealth'. [9]

Jane Austen was a moralist as well as an entertainer. She could be a severe judge of the population in which she lived and frequently in her books she presents the audience with a carefully considered series of judgements. Her people will be the vessels for conveying these judgements, either drastically or by Austen's immediate commentary about them. In Persuasion she offers an obvious touch upon the contemporary society she inhabited through Sir Walter Elliot, 'Vanity was the start and the finish of Sir Walter Elliot's personality. Vanity of person and of situation'. This comment, is later emphasised by the play of Sir Walters departure, 'Sir Walter prepared with condescending bows for all the afflicted tenantry and cottagers who may have a hint to shew themselves'. Austen's ironic tone moves a judgement on not only Sir Walter, but all those who posses his qualities of vanity and stupidity, whilst missing a truly didactic moralising shade.

The ability of free and immediate speech empowered Jane Austen to utilise her satirical piquancy, whilst removing her authorial tone of voice from the narrative. She actually is finally the narrator of the text and Anne is her mouthpiece, however free indirect discourse defines the separation between writer and persona.

How Anne's more rigid requisitions might have used, is of little result. Lady Russell's had no success at all-could not be put up with-were never to be borne. 'What! Every comfort of life knocked off! Journeys, London, servants, horses, desk, -contractions and limitations every where. To reside no longer with the decencies of a private gentleman! No, he would sooner leave Kellynch-hall at once, than remain in it on such disgraceful conditions'. [10]

This record of the persuasion of Sir Walter to rent Kellynch-hall reports actual phrases whilst carrying it out indirectly, so the narration combines the tone and moral perspective of the original speaker get back of an external narrator. What within the quotation markings should be looked at as Sir Walter's, nevertheless the syntax of the passage, the utilization of 'he' in referring to himself show that he's not being quoted straight, alternatively through the reporting voice of Sweetheart Russell. The use of syntax clouds who's actually reporting, but it is safe to suppose that Female Russell is the reporter as it is she who lacks success and has difficulties with Sir Walter. However, the statement is satirical, this can be a commentary after Sir Walter's vanity and Female Russell throughout Persuasion shows little or no satire in her talk, therefore there is certainly arguably a delicate authorial tone of voice penetrating the written text. These cases invite the reader to talk about the author's perspective through her individuals. To provide this moral view point on characters, and also to show identity development over time, the novel needs the fixed point of reference point; Jane Austen's authorial voice, and Persuasion's point of reference is Anne. By this Anne is very close to Jane Austen; Austen remains a detached observer of incidents, but her tone is clearly heard through Anne, who's in turn inspired by occurrences in the narrative. Wayne Booth says in the essay 'Control of Distance in Jane Austen's Emma',

In Emma there are many breaks in the idea of view because Emma's beclouded brain cannot do the whole job. In Persuasion, where in fact the heroine's viewpoint is defective only in her ignorance of Captain Wentworth's love, there are extremely few. Anne Elliot's awareness is enough, as Emma's is not, for the majority of the needs of the novel which she dominates. [11]

Where Anne's viewpoint is not sufficient Jane Austen gets control, but arguably Jane Austen hasn't succeeded in keeping viewpoints individual. She often uses Anne as a mouthpiece for her own views, blurring the differentiation between the authorial speech and character's point of view, and making Anne a less well-defined character than her other heroines. The story is told largely as seen by Anne; her observations and reflections supply the serious components of the book, and Jane Austen prompts us to sympathise with Anne and agree to her moral standpoint immediately.

In Moll Flanders, Defoe utilises an initial person narrative. We start to see the incidents of the narrative through the eyes of his protagonist Moll Flanders. Subsequently, the audience only sees what the narrator needs us to see. This point of view is arguably limited in its opportunity, as character development and plot development is entirely dependant upon the narrator and exactly how much of their account they are willing to show. Moll Flanders controls the story and for that reason controls the reader. Because of this narrative form, the reader views Moll's life as a series of episiodes, episodes that excite and amuse Moll. This novel barely steps beyond the realm of the picaresque book, Moll supposing the role of the 'loveable rogue', relating her voyage into and out of trouble. This isn't to criticise Defoe however, as the idea of view benefits the storyline he is showing, the audience lives the life of Moll, there exists sympathy on her behalf and her plight and the audience wishes for more information of Moll's life.

Jane Austen uses a different method of narrative. Her use of free indirect discourse had not been only cutting edge in conditions of writing text message, but also in informing the audience and how a reader would deal with and dissect the meaning of your narrative. Austen is able to generate a moral subject matter in her text messages without ever sermonising or taking on a didactic shade. Instead the audience looks forward to a satirical ironic narrative through the eye's of it's protagonist Anne Elliot. Through Anne, we observe Austen's dislike for vanity and certain components of the modern culture she lived in. Both novels deploy different varieties of point of view and there's a strong sense in both to amuse, rather than to preach. Whilst entertaining however. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  1. Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe, (Penguin Classics, London, 1989) Site no. ?
  2. Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe, (Penguin Classics, London, 1989) Site no. ?
  3. Conscious Artistry in Moll Flanders, Robert R. Columbus. , (Jstor). Web page no. ?
  4. xxxx
  5. Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe, (Penguin Classics, London, 1989) Site no. ?
  6. Walter Scott-
  7. Norman Page-
  8. Persuasion, Jane Austen, ed Gillian Ale (Penguin Classics, London, 1998) pg xxiii
  9. Persuasion, Jane Austen, ed Gillian Beer (Penguin Classics, London, 1998) pg xxiii
  10. Persuasion, Jane Austen, ed Gillian Beverage (Penguin Classics, London, 1998)pg
  11. 'Control of Distance in Jane Austen's Emma', Wayne Booth webpage no. ?

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