Third-person narrative

Third-person narrative

The third-person narrative is a narrative mode applying the third person. The participants in the narrative are understood to be distinct from the person telling the story and the person to whom, or by whom, it is read.

Third-person narrative is one of three possible modes of narration. The others are first-person narrative, in which the narrative voice is the protagonist of the narrative, referred to in the first person, as I or we, and (rarely) second-person narrative, in which the protagonist is remembered and said as second person, as "you". Third person can be omniscient or limited. It depends on how many thoughts you know from each character.

Third person, subjective

Third person subjective is where the narrator describes events in third person grammar but as if seen through the eyes of only certain character.

If seen only through the eyes of the protagonist, it is known as third-person limited. The narrative will include the thoughts and feelings of only the protagonist, while other characters are presented externally. Since the reader learns the events of the narrative entirely through the perceptions of the protagonist, anything that the protagonist cannot perceive must be excluded from the narrative otherwise it "breaks" the point of view. Because of this, third person limited is sometimes called the "over the shoulder" perspective.

Third person limited uses pronouns such as he, she, they, their, herself, himself and themselves when referring to the protagonist as well as all other characters.

This point of view can be used very objectively, showing what is happening without the filter of the protagonist's personality, only using the protagonist as eyes and ears for the reader. This allows the author to reveal information that the protagonist doesn't understand but without breaking the point of view. Alternatively, some authors use an even narrower and more subjective perspective, as though the viewpoint character were narrating the story and including the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist; this is dramatically very similar to the first person, allowing in-depth revelation of the protagonist's personality, but uses third-person grammar.

Some writers will shift perspective from one viewpoint character to another in different sections of the narrative. If not carefully done this can be confusing for the reader.

Third person limited became the most popular narrative perspective during the twentieth century.

*"Henry met Madeline on New Year's Eve in Beijing, China, of 2002. He went to a party and she opened the door. Her hair! Only a goddess could have hair so fine."

The final sentence is in the mind of the character, yet is not identified as a thought. The style has become psychologically close.

An omniscient narrator might report on Madeline's thoughts or events in Beijing, but in effaced narration yet stay with Henry. In this way, the writer is forced to be artful to supply a reader with all that must be known while keeping the experience of reading to be closer to how we in fact experience life--through a single pair of eyes, a single set of ears, one mind, etc. in 3 person the author is telling you.

Third person, objective/dramatic

The author does not enter a single mind, but instead records what can be seen and heard. This type of person is like a camera or a fly on the wall. This is used by journalists in articles—it only gives the facts, from one fixed perspective. The third person objective perspective mimics real life: we cannot know what another person is thinking, but we can make inferences based on that person's words, behavior and body language.

Third person, omniscient

An omniscient narrator, as in more limited third-person forms, is also disembodied; it takes no actions and has no physical form in or out of the story. But, being omniscient, it witnesses all events, even some that no characters witness. The omniscient narrator is privy to all things past, present and future - as well as the thoughts of all characters. As such, an omniscient narrator offers the reader a bird's-eye view about the story. The story can focus on any character at any time and on events where there is no character. The third-person omniscient narrator is usually the most reliable narrator; however, the omniscient narrator may offer judgments and express opinions on the behavior of the characters. This was common in the 19th century, as seen in the works of Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy or George Eliot. Some more modern examples are Lemony Snicket and Philip Pullman. In some unusual cases, the reliability and impartiality of the narrator may in fact be as suspect as in the third person limited.

ee also

* Third-person interpretation
* Third-person omniscient


* [ First Person, Second, or Third--What's the Difference?]
* [ third person point of view] at []

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