Perspective is defined as an attitude or feeling about something, or as point of view. We all have different perspectives, or different ways that we view things and events. Two different people who see or experience the same thing will describe it differently depending on their perspective. This could be a physical perspective-where they were when they saw the event and how that affected what they saw. It can also be an emotional more mental perspective-how their attitudes and feelings affected what they remember about the event.
In literature, stories are told from different perspectives. If a narrator tells a story (third person point of view), we get a different perspective. If a character tells the story (first person point of view), we get the perspective of that character only.
Since we know that a person's perspective can affect how they describe something, we should always read critically and think about how the perspective of the narrator or character affects how things are described in the story.
Examples of Perspective in Literature
To Kill a Mockingbird is told from the perspective of Scout Finch, a young girl growing up in Maycomb. From her eyes, we see the prejudice of the town, and the events of one year when her father defends a black man who is accused of abusing a white woman. Scout's perspective allows the reader to experience prejudice and racism from the innocence of a child who doesn't understand why people are treated differently.
In Pride and Prejudice, the story is narrated from the perspective of a third person narrator; however, the narrator's perspective is limited-as he follows a specific character, Elizabeth Bennett. This third person limited perspective allows the reader to benefit from the off-hand context and remarks of the narrator, but also allows the reader to discover Darcy's regard at the same pace that Elizabeth realizes it.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is told from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen. This first person perspective allows the reader to experience the emotions and chaos of the hunger games and the society in the districts and the capital through the eyes of Katniss, which puts the reader directly into the chaos and unknown of the games.
Literary Terms Examples