Effects of Thirdperson and First Person
Can the point of view in which a story is told really change its plot? - Effects of Thirdperson and First Person introduction?? When reading a story in the first person compared to the third person, one will have two different outlooks on the story. A story being told in the first person can be unreliable at points. It allows you to get inside the protagonists head and know what they are thinking, but you are only limited to their thoughts. While a story told in the third person gives you a little more freedom, you wont be limited to only one thought. “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson and “The Story of an Hour,” by Kate Chopin are both told in the third person, which creates an interesting twist.
Conversely, two stories that make you think and wonder, because they are being told in the first person are “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “Cathedral,” written by Raymond Carver. When comparing these stories in the same point of view you will see similarities, but when you compare the stories with a different view point they all could have a different ending and story altogether. Not knowing what the characters in the story are thinking while reading can draw you to different ideas.
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In “The Lottery,” for instances, the characters thoughts are never shown until the end. Throughout the story the reader begins to wonder what is going on and why the whole town is meeting is clearly shocking. To then later find out it is a ritual where a random citizen is stoned to death. For example, the narrator mentioned that, “The men began to gather; surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed” (Anthology pg. 243).
When reading this you think that this gathering is not a big deal because being in the third person you don’t know what one is thinking, you can only observe. “The Story of an Hour,” has a similar effect due to the point of view it was told in. As a reader one can be informed that Mrs. Mallard has heart trouble. Mrs. Mallard the protagonist is told her husband died in the very beginning of the story. She then proceeds to lock herself in her bedroom and look out the window. The ending of this story had a twist with the narrator saying “When the doctors came they said she died of heart disease – of joy that kills” (Anthology
pg. 1203). As the reader one begins to wonder why Mrs. Mallard was happy about this incident and if she were the narrator would we know something different. In contrast to third person, first person limits you to only the thoughts of the protagonist. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” you are stuck inside of the protagonist’s head. She and her husband, John, would go to a colonial mansion where they would spend the summer. The narrator spends most of story describing the yellow wallpaper and the room she is staying in. For example, she says, “There are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows but me, or ever will” (Anthology pg. 82). The narrator begins to think there is something inside the wallpaper that no one else can see but her. Since all are only limited to her thoughts, one may begin to wonder what John and her sister are thinking of this situation and if there is something wrong with her. The “Cathedral,” has a very similar affect. The protagonist describes his wife’s relationship with a blind man. His wife soon invites the blind man over, which the narrator is not too crazy about. The narrator says, “My idea of blindness came from movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed.
Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to” (Anthology Pg. 299). This shows that the narrator doesn’t know too much about the blind and is very stereotypical of them. The blind man and the narrator soon get together in which the narrator is asked to draw a cathedral with his eyes shut. Not only does he close his eyes, he keeps them closed after finishing the drawing. “My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything” (Anthology pg. 311).
This line said by narrator makes the reader believe that he may take things for granted and may just go about his day without noticing much. Even though all four of these stories are effective in the way they are told, they all could have a completely different effect if they were told in a different perspective. If one looks at “The Lottery” and “The Story of an Hour,” for instance, both could have been different in the first person. If you took “The Lottery” and placed it in the first person, one would know from the start whatever he or she was doing in the center of town and would
get the feelings of whoever is telling the story. If the story were told this way it would have probably been less effective and as a reader you would not be as curious. If “The Story of an Hour” were told in the first person we would have a completely different view on Mrs. Mallard and her heart problem. Next the story would end sooner and we would have never found out the husband was alive. Likewise, if “The Yellow Wallpaper” were in the third person, we would most likely know what was wrong with the narrator. It seems to the reader that she has some sort of problem as the story goes.
We would also have a better idea what her husband John is trying to do to help her and why. Lastly, “Cathedral” could have had a completely different effect if it was told in the third person. For example, the reader would have a better idea what the narrator’s wife really thinks about him. It seems to the reader that they may not see eye to eye. Essentially, all stories have a different effect depending on which point of view they are being told. When a story is being told in the third person you are not limited to only one thought, unlike a story being told in the first person.
Also, the writer will have more freedom and the reader may know a lot more. First person can be unreliable and you may not have access to all the important information. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Cathedral,” one is limited to only the narrator’s thoughts and feelings due to it being in first person. In “The Lottery” and “The Story of an Hour,” one has access to more information and is not limited to only one thought. When you analyze each story and change the point of view in which each is being told, each has have a completely different effect or wont be effective at all.