Multiperspectival Narrative Essay
A narrative technique (also known more narrowly for literary fictional narratives as a literary technique, literary device, or fictional device) is any of several specific methods the creator of a narrative uses to convey what they want—in other words, a strategy used in the making of a narrative to relay information to the audience and, particularly, to "develop" the narrative, usually in order to make it more complete, complicated, or interesting. Literary techniques are distinguished from literary elements, which exist inherently in works of writing.
|Setting||The setting is both the time and geographic location within a narrative or within a work of fiction. A literary element, the setting initiates the main backdrop and mood of a story, often referred to as the story world.||The novel Ulysses by James Joyce is set in Dublin, Ireland, the action taking place on a single day, 16 June 1904. The action of the novel takes place from one side of Dublin Bay to the other, opening in Sandycove to the South of the city and closing on Howth Head to the North. While the novel parallels the story of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's epic poem Odyssey, whose role is carried by Leopold Bloom, much of the setting is described realistically, with great attention to detail. The locations within Dublin also represent locations in the Odyssey. Bloom’s home is at 7 Eccles Street, and at the same time, Ithaca, the home of Odysseus. The Post office, Westland Row and Sweny’s pharmacy in Lombard Street represent the Dublin location for Episode 5, Lotus Eaters; the National Library of Ireland parallels Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis and so on.|
|Backstory||Story that precedes events in the story being told—past events or background that add meaning to current circumstances||Though The Lord of the Rings trilogy takes place in a relatively short period towards the end of the 3021-year Third Age, the narration gives glimpses of the mythological and historical events which took place earlier in the Third age leading up to the action in the novel, and in the First and Second Age.|
|Cliffhanger||The narrative ends unresolved, to draw the audience back to a future episode for the resolution.||Almost every episode of the TV shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad ends with one of the characters in a predicament (about to be caught by thugs, about to be exposed by the authority, or a family member or a friend finds out the main character's dirty secret).|
|Deus ex machina (a machination, or act of god; lit. “god out of the machine”)||Resolving the primary conflict by a means unrelated to the story (e.g., a god appears and solves everything). This device dates back to ancient Greek theater, but can be a clumsy method that frustrates the audience.||The phrase originates from Medea, an ancient Greek drama. An example occurs in Mighty Aphrodite and the Tamil movie Inga Enna Solluthu.|
|Eucatastrophe||Coined by J. R. R. Tolkien, a climactic event through which the protagonist appears to be facing a catastrophic change. However, this change does not materialize and the protagonist finds himself as the benefactor of such a climactic event; contrast peripety/peripateia.||At the end of The Lord of the Rings, Gollum forcibly takes away the Ring from Frodo, suggesting that Sauron would eventually take over Middle Earth. However, Gollum celebrates too eagerly and clumsily falls into the lava, whereby the ring is destroyed and with it Sauron's power. In a way, Gollum does what Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring intended to do through the whole plot of the trilogy, which was to throw the ring into the lake of fire in the heart of Mount Doom.|
|Flashback (or analeptic reference)||General term for altering time sequences, taking characters back to the beginning of the tale, for instance||The story of "The Three Apples" in Arabian Nights tale begins with the discovery of a young woman's dead body. After the murderer later reveals himself, he narrates his reasons for the murder as a flashback of events leading up to the discovery of her dead body at the beginning of the story.|
|Flashforward||Also called prolepsis, a scene that temporarily jumps the narrative forward in time. Flashforwards often represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future. They may also reveal significant parts of the story that have not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail.||Occurs in A Christmas Carol when Mr. Scrooge visits the ghost of the future. It is also frequent in the later seasons of the television series Lost.|
|Foreshadowing||Implicit yet intentional efforts of an author to suggest events which have yet to take place in the process of narration. See also repetitive designation and Chekhov's gun||A narration might begin with a male character who has to break up a schoolyard fight among some boys who are vying for the attention of a girl, which was introduced to foreshadow the events leading to a dinner time squabble between the character and his twin brother over a woman, whom both are courting at the same time.|
|Frame story, or a story within a story||A main story that organizes a series of shorter stories.||Early examples include Panchatantra, Arabian Nights, and The Decameron. A more modern example is Brian Jacques' The Legend of Luke.|
|Framing device||A single action, scene, event, setting, or any element of significance at the beginning and end of a work. The use of framing devices allows frame stories to exist.||In Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, the newly wed wife to the King, is the framing device. As a character, she is telling the "1,001 stories" to the King, in order to delay her execution night by night. However, as a framing device her purpose for existing is to tell the same 1,001 stories to the reader.|
|MacGuffin||A plot device coined by Alfred Hitchcock referring to some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered so important.||In Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps the MacGuffin is a mysterious set of “military secrets.” No one knows what they are, and in the end they mean almost nothing. For all its power, mystery, and danger, The One Ring in Lord of the Rings is a MacGuffin that saves the world. The stuff that dreams are made of. The Maltese Falcon is a powerful MacGuffin in the film of the same name, a supposedly jewel encrusted black bird which creates the greed which propels every character, even the hero.|
|In medias res||Beginning the story in the middle of a sequence of events. A specific form of narrative hook.||The Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer are prime examples. The latter work begins with the return of Odysseus to his home of Ithaka and then in flashbacks tells of his ten years of wandering following the Trojan War.|
|Narrative hook||Story opening that "hooks" readers' attention so they will keep reading||Any non-fiction book is often introduced with an interesting factoid.|
|Ochi||A sudden interruption of the wordplay flow indicating the end of a rakugo or a kobanashi.||A Rakugo is a Japanese verbal entertainment usually lasting 30 minutes which ends with a surprise punch line, a narrative stunt known as ochi (fall) or sage(lowering). Twelve kinds of ochi are codified and recognized. The earlier kobanashi was a short comical vignette ending with an ochi.|
|Plot twist||Unexpected change ("twist") in the direction or expected outcome of the plot. See also twist ending.||An early example is the Arabian Nights tale "The Three Apples". A locked chest found by a fisherman contains a dead body, and two different men claim to be the murderer, which turns out to be the investigator's own slave.|
|Poetic justice||Virtue ultimately rewarded, or vice punished, by an ironic twist of fate related to the character's own conduct||Wile E. Coyote coming up with a contraption to catch the Road Runner, only to be foiled and caught by his own devices. Each sin's punishment in Dante's Inferno is a symbolic instance of poetic justice.|
|Predestination paradox||Time travel paradox where a time traveler is caught in a loop of events that "predestines" them to travel back in time||In Doctor Who, the main character repeatedly finds himself under the obligation of having to travel back in time because of something his future character has done.|
|Quibble||Plot device based on an argument that an agreement's intended meaning holds no legal value, and that only the exact, literal words agreed on apply.||For example, William Shakespeare used a quibble in The Merchant of Venice: Portia saves Antonio in a court of law by pointing out that the agreement called for a pound of flesh, but no blood, so Shylock can collect only if he sheds no blood.|
|Red herring||Diverting attention away from an item of significance.||For example, in mystery fiction, an innocent party may be purposefully cast as highly suspicious through emphasis or descriptive techniques to divert attention from the true guilty party.|
|Self-fulfilling prophecy||Prediction that, by being made, makes itself come true.||Early examples include the legend of Oedipus, and the story of Krishna in the Mahabharata. There is also an example of this in Harry Potter when Lord Voldemort heard a prophecy (made by Sybill Trelawney to Dumbledore) that a boy born at the end of July, whose parents had defied Voldemort thrice and survived, would be made marked as his equal. Because of this prophecy, Lord Voldemort sought out Harry Potter (believing him to be the boy spoken of) and tried to kill him. His parents died protecting him, and when Voldemort tried to cast a killing curse on Harry, it rebounded and took away most of his strength, and gave Harry Potter a unique ability and connection with the Dark Lord thus marking him as his equal.|
|Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)||A story told within another story. See also frame story.||In Stephen King's The Wind Through the Keyhole, of the Dark Tower series, the protagonist tells a story from his past to his companions, and in this story he tells another relatively unrelated story.|
|Ticking clock scenario||Threat of impending disaster—often used in thrillers where salvation and escape are essential elements||In the TV show "24", the main character, Jack Bauer often finds himself interrogating a terrorist who is caught in order to disarm a bomb.|
|Chekhov's gun||A dramatic principle that requires every element in a narrative to be irreplaceable, with anything else removed.||"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." — Anton Chekhov|
|Unreliable narrator||The narrator of the story is not sincere, or introduces a bias in their narration and possibly misleads the reader, hiding or minimizing events, characters, or motivations.||An example is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The novel includes an unexpected plot twist at the end of the novel. In the last chapter, Sheppard describes how he was an unreliable narrator.|
|Audience surrogate||A character who expresses the questions and confusion of the audience, with whom the audience can identify. Frequently used in detective fiction and science fiction, where the character asks a central character how he or she accomplished certain deeds, for the purpose of inciting that character to explain (for the curious audience) his or her methods, or a character asking a relatively educated person to explain what amounts to the backstory.||Dr Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Scott Evil, played by Seth Green, son of Dr. Evil on the Austin Powers movies.|
|Author surrogate||Characters which are based on authors, usually to support their personal views. Sometimes an intentionally or unintentionally idealized version of them. A variation is the Mary Sue or Gary Stu, which primarily serves as an idealized self-insertion.||Socrates in the writings of Plato. Plato never speaks in his own voice in his dialogues. In the Second Letter, it says, "no writing of Plato exists or ever will exist, but those now said to be his are those of a Socrates become beautiful and new”.|
|Breaking the fourth wall||An author or character addresses the audience directly (also known as direct address). This may acknowledge to the reader or audience that what is being presented is fiction, or may seek to extend the world of the story to provide the illusion that they are included in it.||The characters in Sesame Street often break the fourth wall when they address their viewers as part of the ongoing storyline, which is possible because of the high level of suspension of belief afforded by its audience—children. The American political drama show House of Cards also uses this technique frequently to let the viewers know what the main character Frank Underwood is thinking and planning.|
|Defamiliarization||Taking an everyday object and presenting it in a way that is weirdly unfamiliar so that we see the object in a new way. Coined by the early 20th-century Russian literary critic Viktor Shklovsky in "Art as Technique."||In, Swift’s Gulliver's Travels when Gulliver visits the land of the giants and sees a giant woman’s skin he sees it is anything but smooth and beautiful when viewed up close.|
|First-person narration||A text presented from the point of view of a character, especially the protagonist, as if the character is telling the story themselves. (Breaking the fourth wall is an option, but not a necessity, of this format.)||Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn uses the title character as the narrator, while Sherlock Holmes is primarily told from Watson's perspective.|
|Magical realism||Describing events in a real-world setting but with magical trappings, often incorporating local customs and invented beliefs. Different from urban fantasy in that the magic itself is not the focus of the story.||Particularly popular with Latin American authors like Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Elsewhere, Salman Rushdie's work provides good examples.|
|Multiperspectivity||A narrative that is told from the viewpoints of multiple characters that incorporate various perspectives, emotions, and views from witnesses or actors to varying particular events or circumstances that might not be felt by other characters in the story.||The films of Robert Altman. 2666 by Roberto Bolano features European literary critics, a Chilean philosophy professor, an African-American journalist, detectives investigating Santa Teresa murders and an obscure German writer named Benno Von Archimboldi. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov features literature professor John Shade, Charles Kinbote, a neighbor and colleague of Shade’s and Charles the Beloved, king of Zembla. Kinbote is the ultimate unreliable commentator.|
|Second-person narration||A text written in the style of a direct address, in the second-person.||Rape: A Love Story.|
|Stream of consciousness||The author uses narrative and stylistic devices to create the sense of an unedited interior monologue, characterized by leaps in syntax and punctuation that trace a character's fragmentary thoughts and sensory feelings. The outcome is a highly lucid perspective with a plot. Not to be confused with free writing.||An example is Ulysses. At one point Leopold Bloom saunters through Dublin musing on “Pineapple rock, lemon platt, butter scotch. A sugar-sticky girl shovelling scoopful of creams for a Christian brother. Some school treat. Bad for their tummies.”|
|Third-person narration||A text written as if by an impersonal narrator who is not affected by the events in the story. Can be omniscient or limited, the latter usually being tied to a specific character, a group of characters, or a location.||A Song of Ice and Fire is written in multiple limited third-person narrators that change with each chapter. The Master and Margarita uses an omniscient narrator.|
See also: Figure of speech
|Allegory||A symbolic fiction story.||C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a religious allegory with Aslan as Christ and Edmund as Judas.|
|Alliteration||Repeating the same letter or consonant sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.||In the film V for Vendetta the main character performs a couple of soliloquies with a heavy use of alliteration, e.g., "Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V."|
|Amplification (rhetoric)||Amplification refers to a literary practice wherein the writer embellishes the sentence by adding more information to it in order to increase its worth and understanding.||E.g., Original sentence: The thesis paper was difficult. After amplification: The thesis paper was difficult: it required extensive research, data collection, sample surveys, interviews and a lot of fieldwork.|
|Anagram||Rearranging the letters of a word or a phrase to form a new phrase or word.||E.g., An anagram for "debit card" is "bad credit". As you can see, both phrases use the same letters. By mixing the letters a bit of humor is created.|
|Asyndeton||When sentences do not use conjunctions (e.g., and, or, nor) to separate clauses, but run clauses into one another, usually marking the separation of clauses with punctuation.||An example is when John F. Kennedy said on January 20, 1961 "...that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."|
|Bathos||An abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect. While often unintended, bathos may be used deliberately to produce a humorous effect.||: The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant. |
|Caesura||A break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line. This technique frequently occurs within a poetic line grammatically connected to the end of the previous line by enjambment.||E.g., in "Know then thyself. ‖ Presume not God to scan."|
|Distancing effect||Deliberately preventing the audience from identifying with characters in order to let them be coolly scrutinized.||Popularized by 20th century playwright Bertolt Brecht.|
|Dramatic visualization||Representing an object or character with abundant descriptive detail, or mimetically rendering gestures and dialogue to make a scene more visual or imaginatively present to an audience.||This technique appears at least as far back as the Arabian Nights.|
|Euphuism||An artificial, highly elaborate way of writing or speaking. Named from Euphues (1579) the prose romance by John Lyly.||"Is it not far better to abhor sins by the remembrance of others' faults, than by repentance of thine own follies?" (Euphues, 1, lecture by the wise Neapolitan)|
|Hyperbole||Exaggeration used to evoke strong feelings or create an impression which is not meant to be taken literally.||Sally could no longer hide her secret. Her pregnant belly was bigger than the planet on which she stood.|
|Imagery||Forming mental images of a scene using descriptive words, especially making use of the human senses. The same as sensory detail.||When the boots came off his feet with a leathery squeak, a smell of ferment and fish market immediately filled the small tent. The skin of his toes were red and raw and sensitive. The malodorous air was so toxic he thought he could almost taste his toes.|
|Leitwortstil||Purposefully repeating words that usually express a motif or theme important to the story.||This dates back at least to the Arabian Nights.|
|Metonymy||Word or phrase in a figure of speech in which a noun is referenced by something closely associated with it, rather than explicitly by the noun itself. This is not to be confused with synecdoche, in which a part of the whole stands for the thing itself.||Metonomy: The boxer threw in the towel. Synecdoche: She gave her hand in marriage.|
|Overstatement||Exaggerating something, often for emphasis (also known as hyperbole)||Sally's pregnant belly most likely weighed as much as the scooter she used to ride before she got pregnant.|
|Onomatopoeia||Word that sounds the same as, or similar to what the word means.||"Boom goes the dynamite."|
|Oxymoron||A term made of two words that deliberately or coincidentally imply each other's opposite.||"terrible beauty"|
|Paradox||A phrase that describes an idea composed of concepts that conflict.||"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." (A Tale of Two Cities)|
|Parody||Ridicule by overstated imitation, usually humorous.||MAD Magazine|
|Pastiche||Using forms and styles from another author, generally as an affectionate tribute.||Such as the many stories featuring Sherlock Holmes not written by Arthur Conan Doyle, or much of the Cthulhu Mythos.|
|Pathos||Emotional appeal, one of the three modes of persuasion in rhetoric that the author uses to inspire pity or sorrow towards a character—typically does not counterbalance the target character's suffering with a positive outcome, as in Tragedy.||In Romeo and Juliet, the two main characters each commit suicide at the sight of the supposedly dead lover, however the audience knows these actions to be rash and unnecessary. Therefore, Shakespeare makes for the emotional appeal for the unnecessary tragedy behind the young characters' rash interpretations about love and life.|
|Polyptoton||Words derived from the same root in a sentence.||"Not as a call to battle, though embattled we are." John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.|
|Polysyndeton||Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions in close succession, this provides a sense of exaggeration designed to wear down the audience.||An example of this is in the first chapter of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: "A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin"|
|Satire||The use of humor, irony or exaggeration to criticize.||An example is Network. One of the earliest examples is Gullivers Travels, written by Jonathan Swift. The television program South Park is another.|
|Sensory detail||sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. The same as imagery||The boot was tough and sinewy between his hard-biting teeth. There was no flavor to speak of except for the blandness of all the dirt that the boot had soaked up over the years. The only thing the boot reminded him of was the smell of a wet-dog.|
|Understatement||A diminishing or softening of a theme or effect.||The broken ends of the long bone were sticking through the bleeding skin, but it wasn't something that always killed a man.|
|Irony||This discrepancy between expectation and reality occurs in three forms: situational irony, where a situation features a discrepancy between what is expected and what is actualized; dramatic irony, where a character is unaware of pivotal information already revealed to the audience (the discrepancy here lies in the two levels of awareness between the character and the audience); and verbal irony, where one states one thing while meaning another. The difference between verbal irony and sarcasm is exquisitely subtle and often contested. The concept of irony is too often misunderstood in popular usage. Unfortunate circumstances and coincidences do not constitute irony (nor do they qualify as being tragic). See the Usage controversy section under irony, and the term tragedy.||A person hears a prophecy about himself. His endeavor to stop the prophecy from coming true, makes it come true.|
|Metaphor||Evoking imagination by means of using figurative language.||Her tears were a river flowing down her cheeks.|
|Thematic patterning||Distributing recurrent thematic concepts and moralistic motifs among various incidents and frames of a story. In a skillfully crafted tale, thematic patterning may emphasize the unifying argument or salient idea disparate events and disparate frames have in common.||Each of the chapters of Ulysses by James Joyce.|
- ^Orehovec, Barbara (2003). Revisiting the Reading Workshop: A Complete Guide to Organizing and Managing an Effective Reading Workshop That Builds Independent, Strategic Readers (illustrated ed.). Scholastic Inc. p. 89. ISBN 0439444047.
- ^Demchick, Harrison (2013-09-26). "Techniques and Tension in Breaking Bad". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
- ^"Literature Glossary - Defamiliarization". www.shmoop.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
- ^"Allegory Examples". YourDictionary. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
- ^Fiske, Robert Hartwell (1 November 2011). Robert Hartwell Fiske's Dictionary of Unendurable English: A Compendium of Mistakes in Grammar, Usage, and Spelling with commentary on lexicographers and linguists. Scribner. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-4516-5134-8.
- ^Abrams, Meyer Howard; Harpham, Geoffrey Galt (2009). A Glossary of Literary Terms. Cengage Learning. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4130-3390-8.
- ^High School Analogies
- ^Graham Allen (2 June 2004). Roland Barthes. Routledge. p. 29. ISBN 1-134-50341-5.
- ^Heath, Peter (May 1994), "Reviewed work(s): Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights by David Pinault", International Journal of Middle East Studies, Cambridge University Press, 26 (2): 358–360, doi:10.1017/s0020743800060633
- ^Heath (1994) p. 360
- ^"Personification - Examples and Definition of Personification". 2013-06-27. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
2 The Theory of Multiperspectival Narration
2.1 ‘Perspective’ in Optics, Art, Philosophy and in Literary Studies
2.2 Multiperspectival Narration
2.2.1 The Definition of Multiperspectival Narration
2.2.2 Forms of Multiperspectival Narration
2.3 The Perspective Structure of Narrative Texts
2.3.1 The Individual Perspectives
2.3.2 The Perspective Structure
126.96.36.199 The Paradigmatic Dimension: Categories for the Analysis of the Selection and Arrangement of the Individual Perspectives
188.8.131.52 The Syntagmatic Dimension: Categories for the Analysis of the Arrangement of Individual Perspectives
184.108.40.206 Closed vs. Open Perspective Structures
220.127.116.11 Controlling Strategies Supporting or Disturbing the Synthesis of the Perspectives
2.4 Framing and Multiperspectivity
2.5 The Role of Multiperspectivity in Narrative Texts
3 Multiperspectival Narration in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House
3.1 The Form of Multiperspectival Narration in Bleak House
3.2 Multiperspectivally Presented Subjects in Bleak House
3.3 The Individual Perspectives in Bleak House
3.3.1 The Narrator-Perspective
3.3.2 Esther’s Perspective
18.104.22.168 Esther as the Experiencing “ I“
22.214.171.124 Esther as the Narrating “ I“
3.4 The Perspective Structure of Bleak House
3.4.1 The Paradigmatic Dimension of Multiperspectival Narration
3.4.2 The Syntagmatic Dimension of Multiperspectival Narration
3.4.3 The Synthesis of the Perspectives in Bleak House
3.5 The Illustration’s Role in the Novel’s Perspective Structure
4 Multiperspectival Narration in George Eliot’s Middlemarch
4.1 The Form of Multiperspectival Narration in Middlemarch
4.2 Multiperspectivally Presented Subjects in Middlemarch
4.2.1 Multiperspectivally Presented Themes and Events
4.2.2 Multiperspectival Presentation of Characters
4.3 The Individual Perspectives in Middlemarch
126.96.36.199 Dorothea’s Perspective
188.8.131.52 Casaubon’s Perspective
184.108.40.206 Will Ladislaw’s perspective
220.127.116.11 Lydgate’s perspective
18.104.22.168 Rosamond’s perspective
4.3.2 The Narrator-perspective
4.3.3 Framing: The Role of the Prelude in Middlemarch
4.4 The Perspective Structure of Middlemarch
4.4.1 The Paradigmatic Dimension of Multiperspectival Narration
4.4.2 The Syntagmatic Dimension of Multiperspectival Narration
4.4.3 The Synthesis of the Perspectives in Middlemarch
22.214.171.124 Middlemarch as a Narrative with an Open Perspective Structure..
126.96.36.199 Strategies that Support or Disturb the Synthesis of the Perspective Structure
4.5 The Different Roles of Multiperspectival Narration in Middlemarch
188.8.131.52 Epistemological and Metanarrative Roles of Multiperspectival Narration in Middlemarch
184.108.40.206 Normative and Ideological Roles of Multiperspectival Narration in Middlemarch
This thesis is dedicated to the memory of my father, who being an actor unconsciously imbued me with his love of literature; to my mother, whose perseverance has always stood for me as a model and who taught me to appreciate and love languages; and to my dear husband, Nicholas, who has supported me unstintingly throughout my studies. Finally, I owe a special word of thanks to Cini.
The following abbreviations will be used in this thesis together with page numbers in order to indicate quotations taken from Dickens’ and Eliot’s novels:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Es gibt nur ein perspektivisches Sehen, nur ein perspektivisches ‚Erkennen’; und je mehr Affekte wir über eine Sache zu Worte Kommen lassen, je mehr Augen, verschiedne Augen wir uns für dieselbe Sache einzusetzen wissen, umso vollständiger wird unser ‚Begriff’ von dieser Sache, unsre ‚Objektivität’ sein.
(Friedrich Nietzsche, Zur Genealogie der Moral)1
No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.
(John Locke, Essay on the Human Understanding, dedicatory epistle, sec. 19)
I don’t pretend to understand the Universe - it’s a great deal bigger than I am … People ought to be modester.
(Remark to Wm. Allingham. D. A. Wilson’s and D. Wilson MacArthur’s Carlyle in Old Age)
The idea that knowledge is always perspectival, that every understanding is subjective and dependent on an observer, and that by a multiperspectival way of looking at a thing, our notion of this object, our objectivity becomes more extensive and more complex has become a common-place idea.2 According to the German philosopher’s, Nietzsche’s philosophical theory, termed perspectivism, “there are no immaculate perceptions”, and “knowledge from no point of view is as incoherent a notion as seeing from no particular vantage point”3. As Berndt Magnus puts it, “perspectivism also denies the possibility of an all-inclusive perspective, which could contain all others and, hence, make reality available as it is in itself”4. Moreover, he argues that “the concept of such an all-inclusive perspective is as incoherent as the concept of seeing an object from every possible vantage point simultaneously”.
These views about the limits of human understanding and perspectivism were not developed in the field of literature, but in the field of philosophy. However, since the eighteenth century, through the development of innovative narrative forms the novel has had a very important role in making people aware of the fact that all experience, understanding and even history is bound to a person’s subjectivity5. As Vera & Ansgar Nünning state in their article, the relationship between narration and perspectivity, or rather the subjectivity of experiencing reality (“Subjektabhängigkeit von Wirklichkeitserfahrung”) is especially clear in the case of multiperspectival narration, because in these narratives several versions of the same events are presented side by side, and thus in such multiperspectival narratives, the emphasis shifts from the narrated events to the mode of experiencing reality. Besides, they add that by contrasting the different descriptions and interpretations there is a constant relativization of the imperfect points of view and of the norms and values of the different individuals, from whose perspective we learn the story while reading the narrative. Therefore, in their view, multiperspectivally narrated novels are suitable to present the diversity of different social viewpoints, ideas, and social discourses6.
Though mutiperspectival narration is a central means of representation in many narrative texts, and we can also find numerous examples in English literature which use this narrative technique, such as the novels of Samuel Richardson, Tobias Smollett, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, Lawrence Durrell, John Fowles, Iris Murdoch, Julian Barnes, and Ian McEwan, this literary phenomenon has received very little attention among literary theorists and critics. The few critics who have been concerned with the topic use various terms in their studies for this narrative technique, among which the following German terms compete with each other: “Mehrfachperspektive”, “Polyperspektive”, “vielperspektivisch”, just to name a few. The first study which dealt with the forms of multiperspectival narration is Volker Neuhauses’s, Typen Multiperspektivischen Erzählens7. Although the book has long served as the theoretical basis for the many different forms of this narrative, it still leaves many questions open, and does not present precise theoretical tools, such as a well-defined terminology for the classification and analysis of multiperspectival narration. The first study that provides a precise terminological framework for the analysis of multiperspectival narration is Vera & Ansgar Nünning’s groundbreaking work, in which they apply Manfred Pfister’s theories for the analysis of the different character perspectives in drama8.
The main objective of this thesis is to investigate the different uses of multiperspectival narration in two nineteenth century English novels, in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (1852-53) and George Eliot’s Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1871-72) and to discuss the possible functions of this technique in these novels. After examining the different forms of multiperspectival narration in these novels, I will identify the different perspectives, and will also examine the different relations between these perspectives by considering the paradigmatic and syntagmatic dimension of the perspective structure in the respective novels. Furthermore, I shall consider how the perspective structure of these two narratives steers the reception process by looking at the various factors that make the integration of the different perspectives within the aforementioned two novels easier or more difficult for the reader.
The main part of my thesis is divided into three parts: in the first part of my thesis I will present the theoretical framework that I intend to use in my analysis of these novels, and then in the second and third parts my attention will be devoted to the analysis of the novels.
2 The Theory of Multiperspectival Narration
“A man that seeketh precise truth, had need to remember what every name he uses stands for; and to place it accordingly; or else he will find himselfe entangled in words, as a bird in lime-twiggs: the more he struggles, the more belimed.” Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), I. iv.15.
As the different uses of the term ‘perspective’ in the science of history, art, philosophy, literary studies and in many other disciplines show, the concept has an interdisciplinary relevance. Since the term ‘perspective’ has so many different connotations, and because its use in the context of narratology is a metaphorical one, it is very important to give an explanation as to how the term is used in literature. Moreover, a precise definition is also necessary for the term’s reestablishment and dissociation from concepts like focalization1, which refers to a constituent of the narrative transmission, i.e. to “the perceptual centre from which the events of the story are presented”2.
2.1 ‘Perspective’ in Optics, Art, Philosophy and in Literary Studies
According to Nünning’s explanation of the term3, the concept of ‘perspective’ derives from the Latin verb perspicere, which means ‘to see through’, to look through’, or ‘to see clearly.’ The term perspectiva was originally used in natural sciences, especially in optics. In the Middle Latin period, the word perspectiva referred to the science of sight, which deals with correct seeing, its rules and problems of optical distortions4. In painting and art the concept is used as a “method of graphically depicting three-dimensional objects and spatial relationships on a two-dimensional plane or on a plane that is shallower than the original”5. Following Ansgar Nünning, in philosophy, in the Rationalism and in the Enlightenment, the term is expanded to the depiction of problems in the theory of understanding6. Philosophical uses of the concept tend to be more metaphorical, describing general cognitive processes and proposing the theory of perspectivism mentioned in the introduction, according to which our knowledge of the world is inevitably partial and limited by the individual perspective from which it is perceived7.
As Surkamp states, literary critics and narrative theorists adopted both the visual and the cognitive aspects of the term. Following her explanation, in structuralist narratology and in more recent work in narrative theory inspired by structuralist approaches, the `perspective' usually refers to stylistic features of narrative discourse. Moreover, in such structuralist theories ‘perspective’ is closely related to terms like ‘point of view’ and ‘narrative situation’, which is synonymous with the term ‘narrative perspective’, bridging narration and focalization8. Nevertheless, in Surkamp’s view, this narratological approach to perspective overlooks crucial differences at the level of narrative transmission. Therefore, as she continues, in recent years narratology has introduced a number of more specific terms such as ‘narrative voice’, which refers to aspects of narratorial discourse, and ‘external’ and ‘internal’ focalization referring to narratorial and character-based viewpoints, respectively, to describe these basic elements more precisely9.
In recent reconceptualisations, the use of the term 'perspective' tends to be restricted to “the subjective world-views of characters and narrators”10. In such theories of perspective, the term does not anymore imply the way a story is told as it is the case in ‘narrative perspective’, according to which we distinguish between three typical narrative situations: the authorial narrative situation, the figural narrative situation and the first person narrative situation, but rather, the emphasis in such recent theories shifts from the way a story is told to the “semantic component of narratives”, that is to say, to the “totality of the world- and belief-models embraced by the fictional individuals of the storyworld”11.
In the analyses of the aforementioned novels, I rely on this second conceptualisation of perspective, and I will use Vera & Ansgar Nünning’s groundbreaking theories on multiperspectival narration12 as the basis for the theoretical framework of my thesis.
2.2 Multiperspectival Narration
As Vera and Ansgar Nünning emphasize in their essay on multiperspectival narration, we can hardly find another aspect of narrative texts which has had a larger imbalance between its importance as far as its occurrence in narrative texts is concerned and its lack of adequate theoretical models for its description, as the technique of multiperspectival narration, even though multiperspectivity is a fascinating literary phenomenon, from a narratological as well as from a historico-cultural perspective13. In view of these facts, they propose a theoretical framework for the analysis of this narrative technique, in which they give a precise definition of what they mean by multiperspectival narration, and furthermore they introduce new categories which enable the analysis of the perspective structure of narrative texts, including the analysis of the individual perspectives and their different relations to each other.
2.2.1 The Definition of Multiperspectival Narration
According to their preliminary definition of the term, multiperspectival narration is a form of narrative transmission in which a subject, an event, a character etc. is presented from at least two or more individual perspectives14. Nevertheless, multiperspectivity, also called ‘polyperspectivity,’ is in comparison with other narratological concepts a relatively vague term, and it is not clear which narratives can be regarded as multiperspectival narratives. Consequently, to prevent theoretical confusions around the concept, Nünning/Nünning find it essential to give a precise narratological definition of the technique. In considering the term and its definition they raise the following unsolved questions:
Does the term refer only to narrative texts that have two or more narrators, or does it also refer to those texts in which the events are related at the level of the story, embedded into the level of discourse, the characters thus functioning as intradiegetic narrators ?
Do narratives in which the events are related alternately from the perspective of different reflectors (Stanzel’s tem), or focalizers (Genette’s term), also belong to this form of narrative transmission?
Does the term also include novels in which the presence of an authorial narrator is predominant, but which nevertheless present the inner life of the story’s characters by means of free indirect discourse15 or by means of any other narrative technique used for presenting consciousness?
Furthermore, can we describe modernist texts, in which fragments from different text-types and genres are joined together (assembled) into a narrative collage, as multiperspectival narratives?
And how do framing techniques and illustrations relate to multiperspectivity? Do they also serve different perspectives for describing a particular event, character, or subject?
In order to be able to decide which texts can be regarded as multiperspectival narratives, Nünning/Nünning reconsider a few earlier narratological definitions of multiperspectival narration. One of the earlier narratological definitions of multiperspectival narration was given by Neuhaus (1971), as follows:
Unter dem Begriff ,multiperspektivisches Erzählen’ sollen diejenigen Romane und Erzählungen zusammengefasst werden, in denen sich ein Autor nebeneinander mehrerer Erzählperspektiven bedient, um ein Geschehen wiederzugeben, einen Menschen zu schildern, eine bestimmte Epoche darzustellen oder dergleichen.16
As Nünning/Nünning point out, in Nauhaus’s definition the use of the term narrative perspective (Erzählperspektive) does not make it clear what is meant under perspective and it does not distinguish between narrators and focalizers. Besides, it is unclear what is meant by several narrative perspectives (“mehrerer Erzählperspektiven”), and what kind of shifts in the narrative transmission can be regarded as signs of multiperspectival narration17.
A second important definition of multiperspectival narration, which adds two important aspects, can be attributed to Buschman (1986)18. First, he criticizes the neglect of character speech as a change in perspective (“Figurenrede als Blickpunktwechsel”) in Neuhaus’s definition, and pleads for the inclusion of the characters’ perspective into the definition of multiperspectival narration. Furthermore, he tries to restrict the unlimited (endless) expansion of the term by demanding additionally a common ‘point of attention’, i.e. a common point of reference among the perspectives. As he puts it, “Damit liegt multiperspektivisches Erzählen dann vor, wenn aus dem ‘ point of view ’ verscheidener narrativer Instanzen (Erzähler unf Figuren) ein zentraler ‘ point of attention ’ dargestellt wird.“19. Besides, he restricts the term multiperspectivity to narratives in which from different perspectives different aspects of a subject are presented, or to those which lead to contrasting attitudes towards a subject. In his formulation, “aus verschiedenen Blickpunkten auch verschiedene Ansichten der Dinge und Erzählhaltungen folgen, wenn also auch im normativen Sinn mehrere points of view vorliegen“20.
In Vera & Ansgar Nünning’s view, Buschman’s definition distinguishes between narrators and characters as separate narrating instances, but he does not make a distinction between narration and focalization, which are important aspects to distinguish between story and discourse at the level of the narrative transmission. In their view, the two categories, i.e. the narrator and the characters, are blended in Buschmann’s definition into the vague concept of point of view. As a result, the question as to whether narrative texts with several focalizers should also be regarded as instances of multiperspectival narration still remains open.
Consequently, Nünning/Nünning come to the conclusion that to be able to give a precise terminology of the different forms of multiperspectival narration and to show how differently the narrated world may be conveyed in such narratives, it is essential to differentiate between narrators and focalizers. In addition, it is also important to consider at which narrative level the narrator is situated. In contrast to extradiegetic narrators, who are external to the storyworld, intradiegetic narrators are narrating characters belonging to the narrated storyworld, i.e. to the diegetic level. In their view, for the definition of multiperspectival narration it is necessary to take both extradiegetic and intradiegetic narrators into consideration, because in both cases if there is more than one narrating instance, this results in parallel perspectives within the same narrative. As they put it, “weil es in beiden Fällen bei einer Pluralisierung der Erzählinstanzen zu einer perspektivischen Auffächerung der erzälten Welt kommt”. Thus, the distinction between narration, focalization and between the different narrative levels (story and discourse) is necessary if one wants to take into account both the narrators and the reflector figures, i.e. the internal focalizers of a text, when defining multiperspectival narration21.
Taking into consideration all these facts, Vera and Ansgar Nünning come to the following working definition of multiperspectival narration:
Multiperspektivisches Erzählen liegt in solchen narrativen Texten vor, in denen das auf der Figurenebene dargestellte oder erzählte Geschehen dadurch facettenartig in mehrere Versionen oder Sichtweisen aufgefächert sind, da ß sie mindenstens eines der folgenden drei Merkmale (oder eine Kombination von mehreren dieser Merkmale) aufweisen:
(1) Erzählungen, in denen es zwei oder mehrere Erzählinstanzen auf der extradiegetischen und/oder der intradiegetischen Erzählebene gibt, die dasselbe Geschehen jeweils von ihrem Standpunkt aus in unterschiedlicher Weise schildern;
(2) Erzählungen, in denen dasselbe Geschehen alternierend oder nacheinander oder aus der Sicht bzw. Blickwinkel von zwei oder mehreren Fokalisierungsinstanzen bzw. Reflektorfiguren widergegeben wird;
(3) Erzählungen mit einer montage- bzw. collagehaften Erzählstruktur, bei der personale Perspektivierungen desselben Geschehens aus der Sicht unterschiedlicher Erzähl- und/oder Fokalisierungsinstanzen durch andere Textsorten ergänzt oder ersetzt werden 22.
As this definition shows, it is not enough to have several viewpoints in a narrative text for multiperspectival narration to be present, because if we considered every narrative that includes more than one perspective as a multiperspectival narrative then almost every text could be defined as such. In Vera and Ansgar Nünning’s view, we can speak of multiperspectivity in a narrative text only when several versions of the same events, or of the same phenomenon occurring at the story level, are presented. A multiperspectivally presented event or subject becomes especially important when there are discrepancies and disagreements in the judgement (assessment) of the multiply presented events, characters, setting, facts, topics or world-views, so that the separate perspectives cannot be synthesized23. Consequently, we need to have at least two deviating perspectives on the same subject for the technique of multiperspectival narration to be present in a narrative text. Hence, the special effect of multiperspectivity is due to the confrontation of the different perspectives on a specific subject or event24. Hence, the emphasis shifts from the question of how the story-world is presented to the semantic content of these different perspectives, to the different bearers of the perspectives (“Perspektiventräger”), and to their relation to each other. In the theory of multiperspectival narration the stress is rather on how differently one and the same thing may be conceived.25. Thus, the reader is presented with several interpretations of one and the same subject, and so it is left to the reader to choose between the different perspectives, to decide which one is more reliable. In consequence, multiperspectival narration leads the attention of the recipient from the level of the events to the subjectivity of the different bearers of these contrasting or deviating perspectives, and also shows that it is impossible to reproduce a precise account of the events, etc., and that all observation and every version of the different accounts is subject-dependent, that is to say, is dependent on a narrator’s or character’s perspective26. Accordingly, when analysing multiperspectival texts we are not only interested in how the narrated events are presented, but also in what constitutes the different perspectives that occur in the narrative.
2.2.2 Forms of Multiperspectival Narration
Relying on their working definition of the technique and considering how the perspective structure of a narrative text is conveyed, Vera and Ansgar Nünning distinguish between the following types of multiperspectival narration27:
Type 1: Multiperspectivally narrated texts (‘multiperspektivisch erzählte Texte’)
Multiperspectivally narrated texts are narratives in which the narrated events are presented from the perspective of two or more than two narrative instances. This type is characterized by the presence of two or more than two narrators, and following Nünning/Nünning (2000), it corresponds to Bertil Romberg’s narratological concept of ‘ multi-narrator novels ’28.
Type 2: Multiperspectivally focalized texts (‘multiperspektivisch fokalisierte Texte’)
Multiperspectivally focalized texts, on the other hand, are narratives in which the narrated events and the story-world are presented from the viewpoint of two or more reflector figures. In this case, the term multiperspectivity does not refer to several narrating instances, but to the presence of two or more focalizers, i.e. to the presence of several ‘ centers of consciousnes ’. This type thus corresponds to novels that Neuhaus termed “Romane der vielpersonigen Bewußtseinsdarstellung”, that is to say to novels in which the thoughts, feelings and perceptions of several characters are presented (cf. Ibid.).
Type 3: Multiperpectivally struxtured texts (‘multiperspektivisch strukturierte bzw. collagierte Texte’)
Multiperspectivally structured texts are narratives in which the multiperspectival layering of the texts is due to the combination of various text-types, e.g. letters, diaries, newspaper articles etc., which thus use the technique of collage. As Nünning/Nünning point out, this type corresponds to Neuhaus’s category “Archivroman”.
As can be seen from the above differentiation, multiperspectivity may occur not only in narrative texts, in which the narrated world is presented from the perspective of more than one extra- or intradiegetic narrators, but also in texts in which the narrated events are transmitted through the perspective of several characters29, i.e. in narratives in which multiple, or variable focalization predominates30. As Nünning/Nünning emphasize, the type of text termed multiperspectivally structured text seldom occurs in its pure form, because very often in such narratives there are various narrating instances or focalizers in addition to the combination of various text-types.
Furthermore, there are also mixtures of these basic types and special cases, which cannot easily be integrated into such a strict typology. Such an example is Charles Dickens’ novel, Bleak House, in which there is an alternation between the authorial passages and the embedded first-person narration of Esther, and in which the illustrations as an integral part of the narrative also function as an additional perspective within the novel.
Nevertheless, these three basic forms of multiperspectival narration can be further subdivided31. In the case of multiperspectivally narrated texts two criteria have to be considered. First, it is important to consider at which narrative level of communication the narrators are situated, whether they are part of the story-world, or whether they belong to an extradiegetic level, that is to the discourse (of the narrative transmission) . Secondly, one has to consider the quantitative criterion, that is the number of the narrative instances within a text. According to these criteria Nünning/Nünning differentiate between extradiegetic and intradiegetic multiperspectivally narrated texts, and furthermore between biperspectivally and polyperspectivally narrated texts.
Type 1a: The concept of the extradiegetic multiperspectivally narrated text refers to narratives in which the narrated events are conveyed alternately by two or more narrators, who are situated at the level of the narrative transmission, which is hierarchically at a higher narrative level of communication than the level of the characters.
Type 1b: In contrast, the term intradiegetic multiperspectivally narrated text designates narratives, in which the events are related by two or more narrating characters, who are situated at the hierarchically lower embedded narrative level of the storyworld. Typical examples for this type of narratives are Samuel Richardson’s multiperspectival epistolary novels, and many of the 18th-century novels, in which characters tell of their lives in the form of interpolated tales or embedded stories.
Type 1c: In the case of biperspectivally narrated texts, the events are presented alternately by two narrating instances.
Type 1d: On the other hand, in polyperspectivally narrated texts, the events are conveyed alternately by more than two narrating instances.
Relying on the same two criteria, Nünning/Nünning make similar distinctions in the field of multiperspectivally focalized texts. Thus, they differentiate between extradiegetic and intradiegetic multiperspectivally focalized texts, moreover between biperspectivally and polyperspectivally focalized texts.
Type 2a: In extradiegetic multiperspectivally focalized texts, the events are presented alternately from the perspective of two or more external focalizers, who are situated at the level of the narrative transmission. Since extradiegetic narrators normally also function as focalizers, types 1a and 2a coincide in practice.
Type 2b: In intradiegetic multiperspectivally narrated texts, the narrated world is presented alternately from the viewpoint of two or more internal focalizers, or reflectors, that is to say, from the viewpoint of fictitious characters, who are situated at the level of diegesis.
Type 2c: Biperspectivally focalized texts are narratives, in which the events are presented from the perspective of two focalizers.
Type 2d: In polyperspectivally focalized texts, on the other hand, the events are reported from the standpoint of more than two focalizers.
However, as Vera and Ansgar Nünning point out, with reference to the fact that narratives are not either intradiegetic multiperspectival or bi- or polyperspectival, but always a combination of the two critera (i.e. the narrative level of communication and the number of narrators or focalizers), the following types of multiperspectival texts can be established: extradiegetic biperspectivally narrated texts, extradigetic polyperspectivally narrated texts, intradiegetic biperspectivally narrated texts, intradiegetic polyperspectivally narrated texts. Similarly, we can distinguish between four types of multiperspectivally focalized texts.
These two distinguishing criteria, on the other hand, do not apply to multiperspectivally structured texts. Such texts with a “narrative structure resembling a montage or collage”, in which “the observations of the characters are replaced or supplemented by other text-types”32 have to be classified on the basis of other criteria. Although the possibilities of combinations are endless, on the basis of two fundamental criteria we can distinguish between the following four types of multipersectivally structured texts. The first criterion is concerned with the question as to whether the assembled text-types are non-fictional or fictional text-types. The second criterion is concerned with the structure of such texts, that is to say, with the range of text-types. Following these two criteria, Nünning/Nünnning (2000) distinguish the following sub- types of multiperspectivally structured texts:
Type 3a: One type of multiperspectivally structured text is characterized by a large number and range of intertextual references to non-fictional text-types, such as newspapers, letters, documentary reports, etc. Such references to non-fictional text- types often serve as an authentication of the narrated events and as a concealment of fictionality.
Type 3b: At the other end of the spectrum between the poles of fiction and non-fiction are such multiperspectivally structured texts to be found, which exhibit a very high density, frequency, and range of inter-textual references to fictional genres, thus revealing the fictionality of the whole text.
Type 3c: Homomorph multiperspectivally structured texts consist of the same or similar types of texts. Accordingly, their structure is relatively homogeneous. A well-known example of this kind of multiperspectivally structured texts is the genre of intradiegetic multiperspectivally narrated epistolary novels.
Type 3d: By contrast, heteromorph multiperspectivally structured texts combine elements from different text-types and genres. Their inner structure is accordingly heterogeneous and varied.
Vera and Ansgar Nünning summarize these various forms of multiperspectival narration as follows33:
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Although multiperspectival narratives seldom exist in such pure forms as presented above, and in practice there are numerous examples of combinations and mixed forms of the aforementioned types, the categories introduced by Nünning/Nünning enable the description of the constituents of such mixed types as well.
2.3 The Perspective Structure of Narrative Texts
2.3.1 The Individual Perspectives
In order to be able to identify the individual perspectives in a narrative text, to differentiate between them, moreover to be able to analyse them with the categories presented in the previous sections, and to describe the relationship between the different perspectives, to be able to distinguish between different types of perspective structure, and to be able to portray these different perspective structures it is first of all necessary to give a definition as to what exactly constitutes the individual perspectives. As Nünning (2001) emphasizes, and as I have already hinted, by perspective he does not mean the act of narration or focalization, but more generally a character’s or a narrator’s subjective world-view34. In the following sections, following Nünning/Nünning (2000) and Nünning (2001), I will try to give a more detailed explanation of the terms character- and narrator-perspective.
Relying on Manfred Pister’s discussion of the character-perspective in drama theory, Nünning/Nünning term the individual world-view of the characters as character- perspective. An individual’s world-view contains “the sum of all the models he or she has constructed of the world, of others, and of herself”35. A character’s perspective is conditioned by the following main factors: by the individual’s knowledge and belief sets, intentions, by their psychological dispositions, that is, psychological traits and attitudes, and by their ideological orientation, i.e. by their system of values36. Thus, in line with Nünning/Nünning’s explanation, the term character-perspective refers to the make-up of a character’s qualities (Eigenschaftsspektrum) and to the system of all pre- conditions that constitute his or her world-view. The emphasis on the individual perspectives of the characters calls attention to the subjective nature of perceptions, attitudes, thinking, feelings, as well as value and norm systems, and thus the use of the concept within Nünning/Nünning’s theory of perspective structure is connected to the use of the notion in the history of art and in philosophy. Hence, the concept of character-perspective provides “an analytical tool for accounting for the fact that the semantic domain projected in a narrative text consists not just of one fictional world, but of a range of subjective perspectives, each organizing its constituents into a different world-model.37 “
Nevertheless, the analysis of the perspective structure of a narrative structure would be incomplete, if we didn’t take into consideration “the existence of an additional communicative level of narrative transmission”38. Nünning/Nünning (2000) and Nünning (2001) argue that the concept of perspective, initially proposed by Manfred Pfister, can also be applied to narrators, because “narrators may also be endowed with a range of individuating features”. In contrast to the term ‘narrative perspective’ (Erzählperspektive in German), the notion narrator-perspective (Erzählerperspektive) does not refer to the mode of the narrative transmission, but to the personality of the narrator (Persönlichkeitsbild) that the reader constructs. Thus, similarly to the term character-perspective, the concept of narrator-perspective can be defined as “the system of preconditions or the subjective world-view of a narrating instance”39, which is situated at the level of narrative transmission, i.e. discourse, or in the case of intradiegetic narrators, the narrator is a character at the diegetic level. However, Nünning adds that the concept of narrator-perspective is relevant only for what Chatman calls “overt narrators” not for “covert” narrating instances or impersonal voices, since these are
“deprived of their human dimension, and cannot express subjective opinions divorced from those of the implied author, the reader may dispense with the reconstruction of their personality, beliefs, judgements as an autonomous private domain”40.
However, for overt narrators Nünning proposes an individual perspective or world-view similar to those private world-views of the story’s characters, which he defined as character-perspective. Accordingly, in the same way as the characters’ perspectives, a narrator’s perspective is conditioned by the narrator’s knowledge, psychological disposition, his or her intentions, values and norms. Although the make- up of the subjective perspectives of the characters and that of the narrator is similar, there are differences in the process of how the reader construes them during the reception of the text. As Nünning puts it:
While the reader constructs the perspectives of the various characters on the basis of what the narrator tells him or her about the characters’ physical, verbal, and mental acts, a narrator-perspective manifests itself solely in what he or she says, that is, in the discourse that “reflects the contents of his or her mind”.41
As Vera and Ansgar Nünning point out, whenever we want to reconstruct the narrator-perspective of a narrative text, it is crucial to consider the remarks and comments of a narrator42. Each time a narrator makes a remark or comments on the events or characters, we learn something about his or her ideas, worldview, intentions, attitude, etc.
2.3.2 The Perspective Structure
The perspective structure of narrative texts can be defined as the totality of all individual perspectives, including the character-perspectives as well as the narrator- perspective, and their relationship to each other43. It results from the contrast and correspondence relations between all individual perspectives of a narrative text. Although the notion of perspective structure includes the totality of the individual perspectives, its aim is not to define the individual perspectives, but to establish the complex interrelations between them44. According to Nünning/Nünning, it is comparable to a network, which is created by the relations between the different parts, and they add that thus the concept of perspective structure is a relational and structural category, which designates the formal relations between the individual perspectives.
Following their argumentation, the analysis of the perspective structure of a narrative text consists of two steps: the reconstruction of the individual perspectives and their relations to each other. As Nünning/Nünning stress, only after having completed the interpretation of the individual perspectives can we make statements about the perspective structure of a given narrative.
In the reconstruction of the character-perspectives it is essential to consider the characters’ statements in their dialogues, their actions, and all the information about the characters that is given by the narrator, or by other characters in form of explicit characterization, as well as all information conveyed by means of thought representations, like stream of consciousness etc. By contrast, in the reconstruction of the narrator-perspective only the narrator’s statements can help the reader to ascertain the narrator’s psychological disposition and value system.
As Vera and Ansgar Nünning state, since the form of the perspective structure depends on the selection and arrangement of the perspectives, it has both paradigmatic and syntagmatic dimensions45.
220.127.116.11 The Paradigmatic Dimension: Categories for the Analysis of the Selection and Arrangement of the Individual Perspectives
The paradigmatic aspect of the construction of the perspective structure of a narrative text consists in the selection and arrangement of the individual perspectives. Thus, we can distinguish between the quantitative criterion of the number of perspectives that are established and “the quality of the scope or diversification of the perspectives”46. The second criterion, the quality of the diversification of the perspectives is even more important than the quantitative aspect, because “the greater the spectrum of social, moral, and /or ideological differences between the various character-perspectives, the more diversified and complex is the perspective structure that emerges”47.
Besides the quantitative and qualitative distribution of the character-perspectives there are further relevant aspects that aim at an even more precise analysis of the perspective structure48. These include: - the degree of specification of the character-perspectives (“Grad an Konkretisierung der Perspektiven”)
- the grade of representation of the narrator-perspective (“Ma ß an Ausgestaltung der Erzählperspektive”)
- the extent of individuality or collectivity of the depicted character-perspectives (“Individualität bzw. Kollektivität der dargestellten Perspektiven”)
- the extent of reliability or credibility of the different character-perspectives (“Grad an Zuverlässigkeit oder Glaubwürdigkeit”)
- the extent of representation of an epoch in a character’s perspective (“der Grad an Repräsentativität, den eine Figurenperspektive […] in einer fiktionalen Welt vertretenen Werte und Normen beanspruchen kann”)
- the extent of authority of the different character-perspectives (“Autorität des jeweiligen Perspektiventrägers”)
The degree of specification of the character-perspectives
The extent to which the character-perspectives are specified can be determined by considering how elaborately a character-perspective is depicted, i.e. how much do we learn of a character’s knowledge level, psychological disposition and value system.
The grade of representation of the narrator-perspective
When considering the extent of representation of the narrator-perspective, we observe how explicitly the narrator tries to steer the reception of the novel by adding comments, remarks etc. In many novels, the role of the narrator is, among other things, to establish a relation between the various character-perspectives within a narrative. Following Wayne C. Booth’s terminology, Nünning/Nünning distinguish between self conscious narrators, that is, between those who are aware of the fact that they are narrating and who discuss and comment on their narrating task, and those narrating instances who are not aware of their narrating function49.
The extent of individuality or collectivity of a perspective
The extent of individuality or collectivity of the depicted character-perspectives describes how far an individual perspective represents the value and norms system that is presented in the story-world. Here we consider whether a given perspective is deviant from the general ideas, values and norms accepted within the fictional world of a narrative or whether it corresponds to them.
The extent of reliability or credibility of a perspective
The extent of reliability or credibility of the different character-perspectives is an important aspect in the evaluation of perspectives. Here we look at how reliable a character’s or narrator’s evaluations, normative statements, etc. are. The more unreliable an individual perspective is, the less importance it receives in the construction of the perspective structure of a narrative text.
The extent of authority prescribed to a perspective
The extent of authority of the different character-perspectives is related to the previous aspect, and it examines the reputation and the recognition of a character within the fictional world, i.e. whether the character’s ideas, views are accepted by the other characters of the story-world or not. As Nünning/Nünning state, this is a very important aspect, since it is essential for determining the normative and ideological dimension of the respective perspective structure.
The analytical categories for the analysis of the paradigmatic dimension of multiperspectival narration can thus be summarized in the following table50:
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1 This quotation is taken from the following source: Vera & Ansgar Nünning, “Von der Erzählperspektive zur Perspektivenstruktur narrativer Texte: Überlegungen zur Definition, Konzeptualisierung und Untersuchbarkeit von Multiperspektivität“, In: Vera Nünning, and Ansgar Nünning (eds), Multiperspektivisches Erzählen: Zur Theorie und Geschichte der Perspektivenstruktur im englischen Roman des 18. bis 20. Jahrhunderts (Trier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag 2000), p. 3
2 cf. Ibid. p. 4.
3 Berndt Magnus, “Friedrich Nietzche”, Encyclopaedia of Britannica (Deluxe Edition CD-ROM. 2005)
5 cf. Nünning/Nünning (2000) p. 4
6 cf. Ibid.
7 Volker Neuhaus, Typen multiperspektivischen Erzählens (Köln: Böhlau, 1971).
8 Manfred Pfister, Das Drama: Theorie und Analyse (München: Fink, 1977).
1 cf. Nünning/Nünning (2000) p. 7
2 Seymour Chatman & Willie van Peer, (eds), New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective (Albany, NY: State U of New York P, 2001) p. 357. Furthermore, following Gerald Prince’s explanation of the term, in Jamesian terminology, the reflector, coined by Stanzel, and the synonymous term, focalizer, termed by the French narratologist Genette, refer to the focus of narration, the holder of point of view, to the central consciousness of a given narrative. cf. Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology (Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), p. 31-32, 80
3 Ansgar Nünning, "Perspektive", Ansgar Nünning (ed.) Grundbegriffe der Literaturtheorie (Weimar: Metzler, 2004), p. 208
4 cf. Ibid., see also (Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 7-10
5 “Perspective”, In: Encyclopaedia Britannica
6 Nünning (2004) p. 208
7 cf. Carola Surkamp, "Perspective", David Herman, Manfred Jahn, and Mariel-Laure Ryan (eds), Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (London: Routledge , 2005) p. 423, see also the entry of “Perspective” in the Oxford English Dictionary Online (2008)
8 In Gerald Prince’s formulation point of view is the “physical, psychological, and ideological position in terms of which narrated situations and events are presented … the perspective through which they are filtered”. cf. Gerald Prince, “Point of view”, David Herman, Manfred Jahn, and Mariel-Laure Ryan (eds), Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (London: Routledge , 2005) p. 442
9 cf. Surkamp (2005), p. 424
12 Nünning/Nünning (2000)
13 cf. Ibid. p. 4
14 cf. Ibid. p. 13
15 The term free indirect discourse (fr. style indirect libre) has been coined and introduced to narratology by J.E. Lorck in 1921. Following Fludernick’s definition, it refers to a mode of speech and thought representation, presenting consciousness in which the characters’ thoughts and expressions are conveyed in their own diction and syntax, but the pronouns and the tense patterns are adjusted to the reporting frame into which they are embedded. Thus, free indirect discourse still reflects the perspective of the original speaker or their consciousness. cf. Monika Fludernik, “Free indirect discourse”, The Literary Encyclopedia. ( 2001)
16 Neuhaus (1971), p. 1, recited also in: Nünning/Nünning (2000), p 16
17 Nünninng/Nünning (2000), p. 16
18 cf. Matthias Buschmann, “Multiperspektivität - Alle Macht dem Leser?”, in: Wirkendes Wort (46.2 1996) p. 259
19 Ibid, p. 260, see also Nünning/Nünning, (2000) p. 17
21 Ibid., p. 18
23 Ibid. p. 19
24 Ibid., cf. also Uwe Lindemann, “Die Ungleichzeitigkeit des Gleichzeitigen. Polyperspektivismus, Spannung und der interative modus der Narration bei Samuel Richardson, Choderlos de Laclos, Ludwig Tieck, Wilkie Collins und Robert Browning.“, Kurt Röttgers & Monika Schmitz-Emans, Perspektive in Literatur und bildender Kunst (Essen: Die Balue Eule, 1999), p. 49, p. 51
25 Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 19
26 Ibid., p. 20
27 Vera Nünning &. Ansgar Nünning, “Multiperspektivität aus naratologischer Sicht: Erzähltheoretische Grundlagen und Kategorien zur Analyse der Perspektivenstruktur narrativer Texte", Vera Nünning, and Ansgar Nünning (eds), Multiperspektivisches Erzählen: Zur Theorie und Geschichte der Perspektivenstruktur im englischen Roman des 18. bis 20. Jahrhunderts (Trier: WVT Wiss. Verl. Trier, 2000), p. 40-77.
28 cf. p. 42
29 cf. Ibid.
30 According to Gerald Prince (1987), multiple or variable internal focalization is a type of internal focalization or point of view, “whereby the same situations and events are presented more than once, each time in terms of a different focalizer”. ( cf. p. 56, 101)
31 cf. Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 43ff.
32 Vera and Ansgar Nünning, An Introduction to the Study of English and American Literature (Stuttgart: Klett Verlag, 2004), p. 123
33 cf. the table entitled , “Modell 1: Erscheinungsformen multiperspektivischen Erzählens“, in: Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 46.
34 cf. Ansgar Nünning, "On the Perspective Structure of Narrative Texts: Steps toward a Constructivist Narratology", in: ed. Willie van Peer, and Seymour Chatman, New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective (Albany, NY: State Univ. of New York Press, 2001) p. 207
35 Ibid, p. 211
36 cf. Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 48, see also Nünning (2001), p. 211
37 Nünning (2001), p. 211
38 Ibid, p. 212
39 Ibid., see also Nünning 1989 p. 74-76
40 Marie-Laure Ryan, Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991), p. 71, recited in Nünning (2001), p. 213
41 Nünning (2001), p. 214
42 Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 50
43 cf. Ibid. p. 51, see also Nünning (2001) p. 214
44 cf. Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 51
45 cf. Ibid. p. 52, see also Nünning (2001) p. 215
46 Nünning (2001), p. 215
48 cf. Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 52ff
49 Wayne C. Booth, The Rhetoric of Fiction (2nd ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), see also Nünning/Nünning (2000), p. 53
50 cf. The table entitled “Modell 2: Übersicht über Analysekategorien zur Selektion der Einzelperspektiven”, in Nünning/Nüninng (2000), p. 54