Point of view

What it is

Point of view in a text is the position from which the subject matter of a text is designed to be perceived. In defining a point of view the writer, speaker or director of the text controls what we see and how we relate to the situation, characters or ideas in the text. Point of view may be expressed through a narrator or through a character (focaliser in a novel, persona in a poem) and because we are invited to adopt this point of view we often align ourselves with the character or narrator. The point of view constructed in a text cannot be assumed to be that of the composer.

Composers can privilege certain points of view by choosing a particular narrative stance including omniscient, limited, 1st, 2nd or 3rd person narrator. In visual, film and digital texts, point of view is indicated through such devices as foregrounding in visual images, types of camera shots or guiding a pathway of navigation through a web site. In spoken and audio texts the tone and accompanying sounds convey a point of view. Point of view therefore constructs an attitude towards the subject matter in a text which the reader, listener or viewer is invited to adopt.

Why is it important

Understanding point of view is a critical reading practice because point of view is often inferred rather than explicitly expressed and its exploration leads to an appreciation of the constructed nature of the text. It is a device which allows subject matter to be foregrounded or distanced and therefore it invites certain attitudes and feelings in response to the text.

Experimenting with point of view allows students to explore other ways of seeing the text.

Stage 5

Students understand that point of view is the position from which the subject matter of a text is designed to be perceived.

Students learn that

  • narrators may be omniscient, limited, deceptive, masking the ideology of the text
  • there may be multiple narrators offering different points of view,
  • point of view may be through a focaliser,
  • a narrator may adopt a satirical tone,
  • the point of view can create an emotional response,
  • point of view controls the meaning of a text and may be resisted.

Stage 4

Students understand that choice of point of view shapes the meanings, the values and the effect of the text.

Students learn that

  • a narrator can tell a story, comment on a story or break out from the story to address the responder, directly 
  • point of view is a device for persuading
  • point of view directs the responder to the values in the text.

Stage 3

Students understand that the narrator is different from the author and that point of view positions the reader to respond in a particular way.

Students learn that

  • a narrator may be inside or outside the story, in fiction and non-fiction texts
  • point of view can create a more personal or distant relationship with the responder, evoking degrees of empathy or indifference
  • the author chooses the way a story is told and chooses language appropriate to that purpose  in the different modes and media.

Stage 2

Students understand that point of view influences interpretation of texts.

Students understand that

  • different points of view affect a story
  • different modes and media convey point of view in different ways.
  • meanings of stories may change when viewed through the eyes of different characters in the story or different responders to the story

Stage 1

Students understand that stories may be narrated through a character’s point of view.

ES1

Students recognise that different voices are represented in texts.