first-person point of view

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Compare second-person point of view; third-person point of view.

1. (first-person or subjective narration) In literary narratives (novels, novellas, and short stories), subjective narration by a character in the plot—normally, but not always, a major participant. The narrator refers to himself or herself as ‘I’ and relates events as they occur, from memory and/or from hearsay, making judgements on these and on other characters (compare objective narration). Readers thus experience narrative events from that character's point of view. This does not guarantee that they will interpret events in the same way as the character or that they will empathize with them: they are at liberty to find them naïve, self-deceptive, or simply dislikable. A novel sometimes employs more than one narrative point of view, though frequent shifts are rare. See also persona.

2. (subjective point of view) In film narratives, a narrative point of view in which the audience either views the action as if through the eyes of a particular character or hears the character commenting on the depicted events as a voiceover. Although the dominant point of view in cinema is usually neutral (see fourth wall), brief point-of-view shots are not unusual. However, a sustained first-person perspective in cinema is rare and thus highly marked. Lady in the Lake (1947) is a rare example in which we see the action directly and entirely from the protagonist's point of view and in which all the shots are subjective point-of-view shots (we only glimpse the character's face in reflections). This is the dominant view in first-person shooter videogames and virtual reality. See also subjective camerawork.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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