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If we heard the story of Icarus from God :. Third-Person Omniscient Narrator.

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if we heard the story of icarus from god

If we heard the story of Icarus from God:

Third-Person Omniscient Narrator

Each success validates our view that the universe is benign and desires for us what we desire for ourselves. Each failure comments on the unworthiness of the aspirer. As Icarus plunged into the ocean, the witnesses, dozens of them, felt in their hearts that his fall was right and just. “Who did he think he was?” sniffed the ship’s captain. “Quite right!” thought the

Ploughman, pausing long enough in his labors to enjoy the plume of water that heralded Icarus’ death. Only Daedalus wept, though he did not dare pause to wipe away the tears.

the omniscient narrator
The Omniscient Narrator
  • Characterized by the third-person pronoun—he, she, it.
  • Offers the voice of the all-knowing storyteller, who is presented as Author/Authority.
  • Leaves nothing to a reader’s imagination; the Author/Authority determines all perspectives and interprets every action, event, and meaning.
  • Offers the easiest reading experience of all the point-of-view options.
advantages of the omniscient narrator
Advantages of the Omniscient Narrator
  • The author—and therefore we—can be privy to the private thoughts of any or all the characters.
  • When presented by a master artist, the Omniscient Narrator can be as important and entertaining a ‘character’ in a piece as one with a name and a history.
  • When authors are not master artists, they can simply make the storytelling easier for themselves because they don’t have to be consistent (think of most genre pieces.)
  • Authors engage the opportunity to express prevailing social views on gender, race, religion,etc. and therefore expect to appeal to like-minded individuals.
successful presentations of omniscient narration in novels
Successful Presentations of Omniscient Narration in Novels
  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Feodor Dostoevsky
  • Scruples by Judith Krantz
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
Observe the impact of the Omniscient Narrator in the opening paragraphs of two of the most famous novels in literary history.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys' house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an

intrigue with a French girl, who had been a governess in their family, and she had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted two days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all the members of their family and the household, were painfully conscious of it.”—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Look at the authority of the opening sentence—that irrefutable, simple declarative sentence. Then look at the freedom the narrator enjoys—moving from individual brains to collective ones and stating the case the way all see it.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings

or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.‘My dear Mr. Bennet,’ said his lady to him one day, ‘have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?’ Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.” –Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

In this example, observe the unassailable (and time-sanctioned) social truth uttered by the all-knowing narrator, who can sweep into a family breakfast without hesitation.
successful presentations of omniscient narration in short stories
Successful Presentations of Omniscient Narration in Short Stories
  • “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner
  • “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin
  • “The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D. H. Lawrence
Consider this section from Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” as Sarty considers the tiny fire his arsonist father has prepared as the family makes camp en route.
“Older, the boy might have remarked this and wondered why not a big one; why should not a man who had not only seen the waste and extravagance of war, but who had in his blood an inherent prodigality with material not his own, have burned everything in sight. . . older still, he might have divined the true reason: that the element of fire spoke to some deep mainspring of his father’s being.”
The Omniscient Narrator has stepped in; the Voice creates connections that Sarty isn’t capable of, now or maybe ever, and does so in the service of expressing Ab Snopes’ world view.
limitations of the omniscient narrator
Limitations of the Omniscient Narrator
  • This is the most essay-like of all point-of-view options.
  • This option is extremely dated unless the voice is witty, petty, and expert because:
  • The pool of like-minded individuals is very small in the 21st Century.
  • The ‘Voice,’ which can sometimes presume to a suffocating degree of awareness, can become tediously preachy and expository.
The impact of this option can be devastatingly powerful when an author uses its inherent freedom to investigate the world views of multiple characters and resists the temptation to supply interpretations. Toni Morrison’s Beloved manages both of these things.
a word about the epistolary novel
A Word about the Epistolary Novel
  • Events are presented in a series of letters “written” by the characters.
  • This method offers a perfect blend of the most desirable qualities of two very different Point of View options: First-Person Participant and Third-Person Omniscient:
      • Presents the immediacy and unreliability of First-Person because of the use of the “I” pronoun.
      • Presents as great a multiplicity of different voices as Third-Person Omniscient.
      • Reader witnesses the evolution of the individual characters’ personalities and world views.
      • The ‘Discoverer’ of the long-lost box of letters can stand in for the Authorial voice and is free to interpret and/or pronounce—or not.
some examples of the epistolary novel
Some Examples of the Epistolary Novel
  • Pamela by Samuel Richardson
  • Humphrey Clinker by Tobias Smollett
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
some variations of the epistolary novel
Some Variations of the Epistolary Novel
  • “Meneseteung,” novella by Alice Munro
      • Instead of letters, newspaper clippings about an event in a previous century spark a creative response in a contemporary consciousness that stands in for the Authorial voice.
  • The Ring and the Book, poem by Robert Browning
      • Instead of letters, the dramatic monologues of each character involved in the tragedy reveal the action; each monologue is presented through the “I” pronoun but without judgment from an Authorial voice—even in the frame monologues.
back into icarus s head without having to live there

Back into Icarus’s head without having to live there:

Third-Person, Limited-OmniscientNarration

His eyes dazzled by sunlight, his heart radiating joy, Icarus flies up and up, away from the squalid earth. He will fly to Olympus and take his place. Then hot, searing hot, droplets against his skin. A white blur whips past his eyes; a soft hissing sound whips past his

ears. Was that . . a feather? He hears that hiss again and again. Droplets of hot wax sting his back, his legs. The wooden framework bound to his arms with leather shudders, and he feels the first failure of a wingbeat. Feathers loosed from the wax spread across the sky; he can barely breathe. He cannot see, but he can feel the plunge that will have only one end. He knows. He screams for his father.

third person limited omniscient narration
Third-Person, Limited-Omniscient Narration
  • Characterized by the third-person pronouns (he, she, it.)
  • Offers some, although not all, of the immediacy of first-person participant.
  • Offers greater freedom of perspective and presentation options: the author creates distance between events and interpretation.
  • Works best when confined to one character; can be stretched to cover two if necessary.
  • Requires restraint on the author’s part: no interpreting, please!
advantages of the third person limited omniscient narrator
Advantages of the Third-Person, Limited-Omniscient Narrator
  • As much involvement with the responses of the character as First-Person Participant: we are privy to the private thoughts of one or two main characters.
  • Provides some distance between those responses and the reader—but the author must be careful not to interpret for the reader.
  • Emphasizes the change that occurs in the main character.
  • Allows the author to be responsible for presenting the perceptions of only one or two characters, not all of them.
examples of third person limited omniscient in short stories
Examples of Third-Person Limited Omniscient in Short Stories
  • “The Dead” by James Joyce
  • “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Roman Fever” by Edith Wharton
  • “The Swimmer” by John Cheever
  • “The Sky is Grey” by Ernest J. Gaines
  • “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor
examples of third person limited narration in novels
Examples of Third-Person-Limited Narration in Novels
  • Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines
limitations of the third person limited omniscient narrator
Limitations of the Third-Person Limited Omniscient Narrator
  • Not as instantaneous as the First Person options.
  • The author is still shackled to one or two perceptions.
  • The presentation of the world view of the character must be consistent throughout the piece and can only change if the change is motivated and plausible.
a word about stream of consciousness narration
A Word about Stream-Of-Consciousness Narration
  • Is a variation of Third-Person Limited Omniscient.
  • Is the most experimental of all point-of-view options.
  • Details virtually every thought in a character’s head sometimes without context and always without interpretation from the author.
  • Is exceedingly demanding on a reader because there is no filter of any kind; the reader must decide what is significant.
  • Is particularly effective when detailing a moment when a character experiences an illness (physical or mental) or an altered mental state.
some examples of stream of consciousness
Some Examples of Stream-of-Consciousness
  • Ulysses by James Joyce (we experience an entire day in the life of Leopold Bloom as he makes his way across Dublin.)
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway re-lives the major moments of her entire life one afternoon as she plans a party while Septimus Warren-Smith, a veteran experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, re-lives the horror of his war experience and plans his suicide.)
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (Benjy, who is mentally retarded, communicates the entire story through stream-of-consciousness.)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (confined to Chief Broom’s experience after electro-shock therapy.)
you were expecting me to tell you where to look and how to feel about what you saw or didn t see
You were expecting me to tell you where to look and how to feel about what you saw—or didn’t see.
third person dramatic narration
Third-Person Dramatic Narration
  • Characterized by the third-person pronouns (he, she, it).
  • Offers the same level of immediacy as third-person, limited-omniscient narration.
  • Offers the greatest freedom of perspective for the reader, who is the only one who can decide where to look or what is important.
  • This option creates the greatest distance between events and interpretation, since the reader is on his or her own.
  • Requires the greatest restraint on the part of the author, who must trust the reader to infer meaning correctly.
  • Demands the most skill from an author, who must set up and lay out scenes so that meaning is implied rather than stated.
If you consider how the experience of seeing a film is different from the experience of seeing a play, you will see why the technique is called ‘dramatic.’
A film is easier to view because the action is filtered through a director, an actor, and a cinematographer. You always know where to look; you are always cued how to view an event through close ups, wide shots, etc.
When you see a play, you have to work harder to understand what you’re seeing. You must decide where to look. There are no filtering perspectives; there is only the action.
Hence comes the term“Dramatic Narration”—because this reading experience is the most like watching a play (not because it’s more serious than the others or can’t be funny.)
advantages of dramatic narration
Advantages of Dramatic Narration
  • The responses of the characters are presented from outside (what they do or say) rather that from the inside (we are not privy to any character’s thoughts.)
  • Provides the greatest distance between those responses and the reader.
  • Most subtle of all options in its de-emphasis of the change that occurs in the main character.
  • Requires the reader to be responsible for 90% of the interpretation—and to have the interpretive talent to register the change in a character.
  • Requires the greatest talent for nuance and selection on the part of the author.
examples of dramatic narration
Examples of Dramatic Narration
  • “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway
  • “That Evening Sun” by William Faulkner
  • “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck
  • “Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway
  • “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway.
limitations of dramatic narration
Limitations of Dramatic Narration
  • Requires the greatest skill from a writer in the matter of selecting and presenting.
  • Can be too demanding for uninitiated readers.
  • Works better in short, theme-driven pieces.
  • Is the most ‘poetic’ of prose options.
  • Is too demanding for a writer to sustain in a full-length novel—or for a reader to tolerate.
What effect do you think Pieter Breughel, the author of the painting, was attempting to achieve through this choice?
For the answer to this question, you must wait patiently for next unit’s PowerPoint presentation on Theme.