The 8 Types Of Narrator And Their Characteristics (with Examples)

Among the main types of narrator , the protagonist, the unfolded, the observer and the omniscient stand out. To understand the subject we must begin by understanding that the literary narrative or narrative text is a genre of literature that consists of telling a fictional story or not, through the description of the events that occurred.

This narration is composed of several fundamental elements, which are the characters, the place, the time, the action or plot and the narrator. The importance of the narrator is that this is the element that differentiates the narrative from other literary genres: lyrical and dramatic.

narrator-types

The narrator is the person who tells the story within the story itself; that is, it is a character created by the author (different from this one) whose function is to tell the facts that he or she lives, witnesses or knows.

According to this, the narrator’s perspective or point of view is created, through which we differentiate the types of narrator that exist depending on whether they speak in the first, second or third person.

Depending on whether or not he is part of the story being told, the narrator can be considered internal or external.

When it is internal, its participation could be as a main character, as a secondary character or witness to the events, as an informant narrator or as a doubling of the self, while the external being can be considered omniscient or objective observer.

Especially in contemporary literature, it often happens that an author uses different narrators in the same work. This implies a difficulty that not all authors manage to overcome, since each character has its own characteristics and the way in which the story is told must depend on these characteristics.

Types of third person narrator

-Omniscient narrator

It is the type of narrator most used, since it allows the story to be told from the point of view of all the characters: what each one experiences, thinks or feels. He is an external character with absolute knowledge of what is happening and that is why he is known as omniscient, a characteristic that is usually attributed to a God.

characteristics

-Does not participate in the narrated story.

-Narra in the third person, as someone external to the characters of the plot.

-It can be objective or subjective, depending on whether or not you think about the events that occurred or if you make value judgments about the actions or characters.

-Because of its omniscient nature, it can narrate any event that is necessary for the plot regardless of time or place, even beyond the senses, such as the thoughts or feelings of different characters.

Example

In JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , the omniscient narrator can describe past, present and future events that occur in different places; in addition, it tells what different characters feel or think and gets to give an opinion in relation to them.

“The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought of them and their kind … I didn’t see how he and Petunia could be mixed up in something that had to do with it (he yawned and turned around) … No, it couldn’t affect them. to them … How wrong I was! (…)

A small hand closed over the letter and he slept on, not knowing he was famous, not knowing that in a few hours he would be awakened by Mrs. Dursley’s scream, when she opened the front door to take out the milk bottles.

Nor that he was going to spend the next few weeks pricked and pinched by his cousin Dudley. He couldn’t know either that, at that very moment, the people secretly gathering all over the country were raising their glasses and saying, in low voices, ‘By Harry Potter… the boy who lived!’

-Observative or poor narrator

It is also known as a camera narrator, since it is limited to describing the events as they occurred, such as narrating what a movie camera can focus on, without adding anything else.

Usually the authors do not use this narrator alone, but in combination with other types depending on the moment of the story.

The author usually resorts to this type of narrator when he wants to generate suspense or intrigue in the reader, by narrating an event without giving any kind of explanation about it since this is revealed later in the story.

When an author creates an observing narrator for all his work, he uses the dialogues between the characters to express their feelings or thoughts, in this way the narrator is not the one who tells them and can remain objective.

characteristics

-It has no participation in the story that is told.

-The narration occurs in the third person, it is about someone outside the characters.

-It is objective, it only describes the facts without giving an opinion on it.

-Because of its nature as an observer, it is said that it can only narrate what the five senses can perceive, so it has a space and time limit.

Example

In the short story Luvina, by Juan Rulfo, there are more dialogues than narration, but when something is related, the presence of the observing narrator is noticed.

“The screams of the children got closer to getting inside the tent. That made the man get up and go to the door and tell them, “Go further! Don’t interrupt! Keep playing, but don’t make a fuss. “

Then, going back to the table, he sat down and said :

“Well yes, as I was saying.” It rains little there. In the middle of the year, a few storms hit the earth and tear it apart, leaving only the rocky ground floating above the tepetate (…) ”.

-Equiscent Narrator

The narrator focuses on a single character. Note this phrase from My dear life of Alice Munro:

As soon as he carried the suitcase into the compartment, Peter seemed eager to get out of the way. Not that he was impatient to leave … » 

Types of first person narrator

-Narrator protagonist

This narrator is the main character of the story, he is the one who lives the events narrated and, therefore, who tells it from his point of view.

characteristics

-It is the main character in the story on which the argument falls.

-Use the first person, tell the story from the “I”.

-It is subjective, since it talks about your perception of the events and the rest of the characters. Due to this same characteristic, he can talk about what he thinks or feels himself, not only what happens in reality.

-He only relates the events that he personally experienced. If he talks about the events of other characters, it is from the point of view that he knows.

Example

In Hopscotch , by Julio Cortázar, Horacio Oliveira is the protagonist and narrator of the story:

“… And it was so natural to cross the street, climb the steps of the bridge, enter her slim waist and approach the Magician who smiled without surprise, convinced as I was that a chance meeting was the least casual thing in our lives, and that the people who make precise appointments are the same people who need lined paper to write to themselves or who squeeze the toothpaste tube from below ”.

-Secondary narrator, witness

What differentiates this narrator from the protagonist is only that, it is not the protagonist but a character who lived or witnessed the events that happened to the protagonist. He is within the story and tells it from his point of view.

characteristics

-Participate in the story as a secondary character who was present at the time of the events.

-Use the first person.

-Your approach is subjective because the focus is on how you have perceived the events, and how you perceive the other characters. This narrator can also talk about their feelings or their perceptions, regardless of the events that actually occur.

-The events that he relates have been experienced by him. It can refer to what has happened to him or other characters, but always from the information he has.

Example

In The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. John Watson – Sherlock Holmes’ companion – tells the story of the detective, who is the protagonist.

“One night — that of March 20, 1888 — I was returning from visiting a patient (for I was again practicing medicine), when the road led me down Baker Street.

As I passed the door that I remembered so well, and which will always be associated in my mind with my courtship and the sinister incidents of the Study in Scarlet, a strong desire came over me to see Holmes again and to know what he was doing. his extraordinary powers (…) ”.

-Narrator editor or informant

This type of narrator, although he is a character in the story, did not live or witness it directly, but knows it through what he knew or was able to know through another character who did experience the events narrated.

characteristics

-Although he is a character in history, he did not personally experience the events he narrates.

-Focuses on the first person.

-It is also subjective because it focuses on your perception

-Talk about the events that occurred without having experienced them, just from what you learned through another person or medium.

Example

In Jorge Luis Borges’s El Informe de Brodie , the narrator begins his story by indicating how he learned of this fact.

“They say (which is unlikely) that the story was told by Eduardo, the youngest of the Nelsons, at the wake of Cristián, the eldest, who died a natural death, around 1890, in the Morón district.

The truth is that someone heard it from someone, in the course of that long lost night, between mate and mate, and he repeated it to Santiago Dabove, through whom I learned it. Years later, they told me about it again in Turdera, where it had happened ”.

-Doubled narrator

The narrator who tells the story to himself or to an unfolded “I” is thus known. It is not determined who is the “you” with whom he speaks and many times it is understood that he is himself, like a monologue, but there are debates about whether this “you” can refer to the reader or to another character in the story, as a letter.

characteristics

-Who narrates is a character in the story, can be the protagonist or secondary.

-Use the second person, as if you were in a conversation with someone, using “you” or “you”.

-It’s subjective.

-It narrates events directly experienced by him or, if he has not lived them, he only talks about what he knows.

-It is assigned an epistolary character, since many times the narration is in the form of a letter.

Examples

The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes serves as an example for the case in which the narrator speaks to himself:

«You, yesterday, did the same thing every day. You don’t know if it’s worth remembering. You just want to remember, lying there, in the dim light of your bedroom, what is going to happen: you don’t want to foresee what has already happened. In your gloom, the eyes look forward; they don’t know how to guess the past.

Types of second person narrator

When narrating, reference is made to the reader. It is not widely used, although it is done in certain situations. Note this phrase from The Fall  of Albert Camus:

You can be sure that I was not moldy. At all hours of the day, within myself and among others, I climbed to the heights, where I lit visible fires ».

References

  1. “Literature and its forms” (nd) in the Department of Education, University and Professional Training, Xunta de Galicia. Retrieved on April 07, 2019 from the Ministry of Education, University and Professional Training, Xunta de Galicia: edu.xunta.gal
  2. Doyle, AC “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (sf) by Luarna Ediciones in Ataungo Udala. Retrieved on April 07, 2019 in Ataungo Udala: ataun.net
  3. Rowling, JK “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2000) by Emecé Editores España at Liceo Técnico de Rancagua. Retrieved on April 07, 2019 from Liceo Técnico de Rancagua: liceotr.cl
  4. Borges, JL “The Brodie Report” (1998) by Alianza Editorial in Ignacio Darnaude. Retrieved on April 07, 2019 in Ignacio Darnaude: ignaciodarnaude.com
  5. Rulfo, J. “Luvina” (nd) at the College of Sciences and Humanities of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Retrieved on April 07, 2019 from the College of Sciences and Humanities of the National Autonomous University of Mexico: cch.unam.mx
  6. Fuentes, C. “The death of Artemio Cruz” (1994) by Anaya-Muchnik at Stella Maris Educational Unit. Retrieved on April 07, 2019 from Stella Maris Educational Unit: smaris.edu.ec

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