The perspective or point of view of an individual is powerful as it influences many aspects of life, including the decisions and choices people make. In literature, the perspective of a speaker is imperative towards the revelation of emphases and details in a text. These details and emphases greatly affect how readers will then react, along with their own experiences, to create interpretations.
The tone of the speaker or narrator towards other characters, events, or themselves allows readers to make interpretations of concepts and ideas that associate with those aspects. The speaker's tone can be revealed in many ways, including from a single sentence that emphasizes ideas due to the syntactical arrangement of its components (clauses and phrases).
In addition to tone, the perspective of a character can also be determined by information from the writing and prior knowledge. Understanding the general perspective of a narrator can help readers identify potential motivations and biases in which influence the development of a character as well as other details within the text. Inferences on the narrators' biases can also be made through the details revealed in their own narrative. The level of bias detected by readers helps to establish whether the speaker is reliable. Reliability is essential as it can influence the audience's interpretations of potential motives.
When exploring the effect of a narrator's tone and perspective (including possible biases), readers can view the passage with a magnifying glass and pay close attention to the details. Throughout this unit, we have focused on understanding how the intentions of a writer correlate to establish a sense of purpose. In this lesson, we will explore how writers develop a character's tone through their narrative and reveal any potential biases in which the character may possess.
It is important as readers to be aware of the speaker and their attitudes towards the subject of the passage or other characters. In some cases, readers can easily identify the speaker and their purpose.
When unsure of the speaker and, thus, the tone they possess, readers can ask themselves the following questions:
Who is the speaker? What is the setting? Why are they speaker?
Is there more than one speaker? If so, how do these characters compare? Do they have a different or similar dialogue style? (formal, informal, jargon, archaic, etc.)
Analyzing elements of the narrative, such as diction (word choice) and syntax (structure), help readers formulate a tone. One strategy may be to group the most prominent words in vague categories (e.g. positive and negative). Another can be associating the narrative with emotions and purpose (does the narrative intentionally try to persuade the audience or make them feel a certain way, such as upset them?).
In some narratives, the speaker may reveal their biases through the language they use. Readers can interpret the purpose of a character and their story from potential narrative biases since it helps to reveal their point of view.
A character's perspective or outlook on aspects (nature, other characters, and themselves) helps to determine any biases. Speakers may write of opinions or facts, and readers can analyze the components of literature to establish whether emotion played a role. The emotions of character, which can be inferred from the tone, immensely influence their perspective. As readers, it is important to be aware of these details to understand the overall meaning of the narrative.