Narrative form and narrative perspective

An author or. an author writes a story. Does this mean that he or she is not automatically the Narrator? The answer is no. narrator and author are not identical. Instead, with each narrated text, the author or writer creates a fictional entity that conveys what’s happening. All about it – and what the difference between Narrative form and Narrative perspective is – we explain here.

© Creative Commons

Confident or shy – the narrator

Different narrators © Creative Commons

The narrator is a character in his own right, who can appear differently in literature. Like every other character, she has her own characteristic features.

The narrator can be part of the Narrated world be – but does not have to be. He can shyly hold back or confidently push himself into the foreground. The latter is referred to as clearly identifiable narrator, who openly expresses his opinion of the characters or addresses the reader directly. If the narrator holds back, he refers to a weakened narrator position. He hides behind the various characters he reports on and lets them speak – without commenting.

He or I? The narrative form

The First person narrator Is part of the narrated reality. He acts as a character, experiences the story and tells it from his perspective. The description is in first person subjective character.

If the narrator reports in the third person (He-form) from the events, he radiates more distance and objectivity. The narrator always has the opportunity to comment on the text.

Narrative behavior and narrative situation

The narrator has different ways of telling a story and taking a position on it. In text analysis, a distinction is made between authorial, personal and neutral.

Auctorial narrative behavior or auctorial narrative situation

The omniscient narrator has the big picture: He knows and sees everything! © Creative Commons

Is it about omniscient narrator, is the term used to describe the narrator’s behavior and the narrative situation as auctorial. An authorial narrator knows about everything that happens in the narrated world. He knows the feelings of each character and what they are thinking at different moments.

Bookmark: The authorial narrator is omniscient. He sees everything and knows the feelings of each character.

Personal narrative behavior or personal narrative situation

The personal narrator describes everything from one person’s perspective. © Creative Commons

A personal narrative situation can be recognized by the fact that the narrator hides in the background. He takes over Perspective of a character and tells from their point of view. He does not depend on the first person form, but can use the he form for himself.

Note: In personal narrative behavior, the narrator describes the experiences from the point of view of a character.

Neutral narrative behavior or neutral narrative situation

Distance between narrator and narration characterizes a neutral narrative situation. © Creative Commons

Neutral narrative behavior can be recognized by the fact that the narrator invisible makes. He observes what is happening and tells about it without expressing his opinion.

Compared to the authorial narrator, the reader is left with a neutral narrative situation the feelings of the characters are hidden. Such texts have a clear distance between the narrator and the narration.

Note: The neutral narrative situation is characterized by a pure narration of the events without evaluation and comments.

What are the narrators in a first-person narrative?

The first-person narrative may be a authorial, PERSONAL or neutral narrator act. This is recognized by the extent to which the narrator is involved in what is happening in the world.

A question of the point of view – the narrative perspective

The narrative perspectives depend on various factors. In order to be able to determine them in more detail, the following questions must be clarified: How far is the narrator spatial as well as temporal away from the events? How big is his Overview? Or more generally: What is his Perspective from the story?

A distinction is made in narrative perspective between a view from the outside and from the inside.

A view from the outside

The narrator describes what is externally visible. He is outside the experienced and refers to the Outside view. The narrator’s perspective is distanced.

The view from the inside

If the narrator can look into the interior of the character, this is called interior view. He knows what the protagonists think and feel and narrates from this perspective.

The way of narration

The narrator can shape the language in literature differently. A distinction is made between Narrator’s report and Characters- or. Thought Speech.

The narrator’s report

To which narrator’s report all remarks of the narrator count. Excluded from this are the statements of the characters. Here one differentiates between the temporal and timeless narratives. The temporal narration documents the plot according to its sequence. The timeless narration summarizes all descriptions of protagonists and places of action that are independent of the temporal course of the story.

The character and thought speech

The direct Speech continues unchanged what has been said. With the indirect speech the narrator quotes the character in the text in the 3. person and subjunctive.

Between direct and indirect speech can be distinguished the experienced speech classify. Readers learn what the character is thinking without it being indicated by an additional verbal phrase such as "she thought". Characterizing for the experienced speech are 3. Person, the Preterite and person-specific Manners of speech and exclamations (such as "Dude!").

Another variant of the character speech is the inner monologue dar. The experience and the sensations are directly first person and in present tense reproduced. It is referred to in English as Stream of Consciousness spoken and denotes a strong associative stream of consciousness.

Examples from literature

#1: "Effi Briest" by Theodor Fontane

Old desk © Creative Commons

In Effi Briest Theodor Fontane a authorial narrator creates a narrator who has an overview of the narrated world. By his way of narrating, one can see that he sympathizes with the main protagonist Effi.

The narrator works with refractions and time jumps to describe the external action of the story. By reflecting on the plot and describing the inner feelings of the characters, he proves his omniscience. This is complemented by the descriptions of the characters and places.

The authorial narrator directs the reader through comments and additional information personal narrative is used.

#2: "The Proceb" by Franz Kafka

The novel Der Proceb by Franz Kafka has a distinctive personal narration to. For this reason it is called single-minded narration designates. The narrative perspective of the main protagonist Josef K. the focus is on. The effect is that the isolation of the main character is conveyed more strongly and the distance to the rest of the characters is increased.

Kafka employs various narrative devices such as narrator’s report, experienced speech, inner monologue and scenic narration. With the inner monologue the inner life of Josef K. directly, while the narrator withdraws himself. The author uses this kind of character speech purposefully. The experienced speech gives insight into the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist. The narrator’s report provides the information about the external events and sequences.

Furthermore, Franz Kafka direct and indirect speech whereby the scenic narration gives more insight into the feelings of the other protagonists. The described facial expressions, gestures and movements of the individual characters contain important information about opinions, contexts and feelings for the reader.

#3: "From the Life of a Good-for-Nothing" by Joseph von Eichendorff

In the story From the Life of a Good-for-Nothing by Joseph von Eichendorff acts a first-person narrator, who at the same time represents the figure of the good-for-nothing. The first-person narrator’s perspective on the world is limited to the personal view of the main protagonist. Thus the view, which has the reader*in of the happening, conditions itself.

The author’s goal seems to be that the readership can more easily identify and empathize with the character. The perception of a romantic optimist and enthusiast is brought to the fore by the nature of the narration.

Tips for practice

When analyzing the text in a German exam, it is important to go through all the points. First, try to identify what the narrator is talking about Narrative form it is about (him or me?), then focus on the Narrative behavior or. the Narrative situation.

Analyze the narrative perspective and the manner of performance. Uses the author narrative report and characters- as well as thought speech, to let his narrator report?

Everything you need to know about the narrator can be found in a nutshell in our book tip: German At a Glance! Literary genres. Epic. Dramatic. Poetry.


I studied Theater and Media Studies with German as a second subject in Erlangen and now I’m in Tubingen for my Master’s degree. Knowing very well how difficult decisions can be after high school graduation, I prefer to blog about post-high school opportunities.

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