View Full Version : The Story's Point of View
January 25th, 2004, 2:31 am
I was just wondering. Haven't you noticed that all of the HP books are written from Harry's point of view?
I mean, I recently read the Artemis Fowl series and it was great because Artemis is the main character, but the story's not always what he thinks, where he goes, etc. It focuses on a little bit of everyone's point of view.
In HP it's always what Harry feels, what Harry thinks, where Harry goes. I think this limits the reader's freedom because you can't know what other characters think and feel until they tell Harry. And when the point of view changes, which seldom happens, it goes directly to where Voldemort is and what's happening on Voldemort's surroundings, then it immediately goes back to Harry's scar burning.
How do you feel about this limited point of view?
January 25th, 2004, 2:49 am
Yep. The books are written in Third Person Limitted, as opposed to Third Person Omniscient. Some authors choose one, some another. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision by Rowling, or whether it just happened that way; in either case, it seems that it worked.
The limitted POV means that you learn things has Harry learns them. You descover the wizarding world and find out about other characters as he does. This lends itself to more suspense/anticipation, and also creates a greater bond with the reader than a book written with an omniscient POV.
If you follow what is called the "Hero's Journey" or "Monomyth," you see clearly that Harry is the Hero of the series. Ron and Hermione are important, but ultimately it is Harry who is the main character througout. The story is largely about coming of age, and it is Harry who is undergoing that transformation.
Really, Rowling could have done it either way, and I think it would probably have worked either way. There are advantages to both points of view, but the one used in Harry Potter helped the reader always understand things as Harry understood them, and for a story that is largely about a boy's coming of age, I think that was a good choice.
January 25th, 2004, 9:09 am
You know, I would really like to also see the story from Hermione's, Luna's, and Lupin's point-of-view. They're soo mysterious. But the one person, I'd like to really understand is Dumbledore. He's quite a shady character. If he can do anything, why don't he really just become Minister of Magic? I'd just like to know if he's really calm like he is the majority of the time or does he just look that way? Well, I guess we'll soon find out (but from Harry's p-o-v).
But I guess that's what make it such a great story, that we know so much about Harry and so little of the other characters. It makes us theorize about the other characters' backgrounds and their interactions with Harry. I think that's the fun part about the series. Even Harry's background is quite mysterious.
January 25th, 2004, 2:15 pm
LumosSoleil, I agree with you that it would be interesting to see the story from other point of view but I think that one of the most beautiful things of Harry Potter series it that you see things from Harry'e eyes which of course is very limitated but also give the suspance and it could be very useful for the author. Let's see: PS/SS we thought that the real "bad guy" was Snape only to find at the end that it was Quirrel and JKR could wrote this twist plot because the story is from Harry'eyes. Basically see things from Harry's point of view makes everythig more misterious and the readers fell themselves more engaged in the books and makes some characters like Hermione, Lupin and Dumbledore more charming. Plus, as Daniel4hp as so eloquently pointed out this books are about Harry's life the books it's about Harry's story not about Hermione's story or Ron's story or Ginny's story. It's all about Harry and how Harry discover what life really is: in PS/SS he discovered friendship and how a family should be the Weasleys, in CoS he discovered how some creaures are maltreat(Dobby) and how the lack of love could change a boy into an evil(Riddle) in PoA he discoverd the joy of have a godfather, in GoF he discoverd that life isn't easy and some people could be orrible (Barty Crouch jr) in Ootp he discoverd what death is what means losing a loved person and he learned that sometimes he should listen to his friends and trying to be rational not to act impulsive and in the future books I guess he will learn something more.
January 25th, 2004, 3:22 pm
I agree that you do feel closer to Harry because of the way the story is told. I think it's very effective because it is almost like first person narrative, you only see the things that Harry sees and you see all of his thoughts and feelings. The conversations that don't involve Harry that the reader needs to know about, JK rowling makes Harry overhear so that we see whats going on. For example, in POA Harry overhears Mr and Mrs Weasley talking about whether to tell Harry that Sirius is after him. If it was written in third person Omniscient then we would have seen the conversation and Harry would have only found out when Mr. Weasley told him at the station. As I said earlier, this makes us feel closer to Harry because we find out things when he does.
I think that it may be interesting to see bits of the story from other peoples points of view, like Sirius or lupin. But because i'm so used to the style in which the books are written I can't imagine them written any other way.
January 25th, 2004, 4:43 pm
It makes us theorize about the other characters' backgrounds and their interactions with Harry.
You're so right, because if it was (example) on Hermione's point of view, we would know if whether she likes Harry or Ron, and that would really spoil all the surprises Ms. Rowling has prepared for us in future books about love matters.
January 25th, 2004, 11:51 pm
One of the things that makes this series so "real" is that we don't know the pov of everyone else. In real life you only know your own pov. There would also be many instances where the surprize would have been ruined if we had another's pov. Hermione learning of the basilisk...Barty Crouch Jr. masquerading as Moody...Sirius really being at home...the whole first book... :eyebrows:
January 26th, 2004, 1:30 am
There would also be many instances where the surprize would have been ruined if we had another's pov. Hermione learning of the basilisk...Barty Crouch Jr. masquerading as Moody...Sirius really being at home...the whole first book...
As I said, I have read the Artemis Fowl series and, as we see everything from everyone's PoV, all the so called 'surprises' are known by the reader and it's very exciting because you're desperately waiting for the main character (Artemis) to find out.
I think both PoV styles are great but I like the omniscient (sp?) point of view better.
January 26th, 2004, 2:11 am
Interesting comment on the POV's of Artermis Fowl compared to Harry Potter. Both worked for me - but for Harry it seems to make sense that when he's surprised, we're also surprised. His whole life has been such a mystery to him since his parents died. It kind of allows us to feel that same sense of the unknown.
There are other books where a completely different POV makes the story unique. The Series of Unfortunate events is told in a kind of First person omniscient - but not really. The author, Lemony Snicket, actually will tell you to watch out, because something bad is about to happen, well before it actually happens. It makes you really empathize with the poor Baudelaires who think things are going well when you know they that will all change soon.
I know I went off on a bit of a tangent - what I mean to say is that the POV's really accomplish very different things. I bet if the HP stories had been told in a different way from the start none of us would be able to see it any other way!
And. . . it does make for some very interesting fanfiction!
January 26th, 2004, 5:40 am
I love the limited point of view in the Harry Potter series. The books aren't called Hogwarts and the Sorcerer's Stone, it's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Harry is the main character and the hero, so it just makes sense for us to only see what he sees. I can't imagine reading them any other way and I personally think it would be boring if we knew everything about all of the characters. The secrets and mysteries surrounding Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, the Dursleys, Snape, and everybody else wouldn't be there.
February 12th, 2004, 4:58 am
I think it makes me feel closer to Harry only having the story from his point of view. I feel just as lost and frustrated as him at times because I only know what he knows. I don't know how I would feel if I got many different points of views from the other characters. I think the pull for the other characters is the mystery that comes along with them. I mean, do I really want to know what Snape is thinking?
February 12th, 2004, 5:14 am
I think it's great that we only see things from Harry's point of view. It would spoil too much if we saw what everyone else did. Also, like some of you have said, it makes me feel closer to Harry. We get to know what he is thinking and feeling, and if we saw the book from other people's pov too, we probably wouldn't get into peoples minds as much.
It's also interesting that besides the protagonist Harry, the only other person who's point of view we see is the antagonist of the series, Voldemort of course. I think that's way cool.
February 12th, 2004, 2:57 pm
Of course, the first chapters of PS and GOF are written in third person omniscient.
This story could be told from an omniscient point of view, but JKR must have made a deliberate decision to limit the viewpoint. That decision informed how she constructed the plot twists in each book. I wonder if this forum would be so big if we didn't have to speculate about what all the characters other than Harry are feeling? I think that's part of the fun.
February 13th, 2004, 8:40 pm
Of course, the first chapters of PS and GOF are written in third person omniscient.
Yes, they work well like that right at the start of the book, as they can then segue into Harry's POV for the rest of the books (Harry does get a vision of the key scene in GoF, though). It's just one way to write a book, and works fine for me.
The only problem with this (or books written in the first person) is managing to get in the key facts that the characters have to find out about to make the plot work. So you get quite a number of coincidences where Harry overhears a significant conversation, or just happens to be in the right place at the right time to see something important.
Actually, another favourite novel of mine along these lines is Stephen Donaldson's dualogy Mordant's Need (the book titles are The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through). It has a roughly comparable theme - a withdrawn New York girl (Terisa Morgan) goes through a mirror into another world in which mirrors show remote scenes which can be interacted with (rather than reflections), and gets immersed in a complex web of battles and politics. The first book is almost entirely told from the heroine's point of view, so the reader learns about this world as she does, which works well. Once the main characters are established, Donaldson varies it a bit and switches viewpoints to show what other major characters are thinking in certain scenes where Terisa isn't present, but most of the book is still from Terisa's POV. It works extremely well, and is highly recommended.
February 13th, 2004, 9:12 pm
Here's an old thread started up by Daniel that also discusses JKR's use of the point of view as well as other writing techniques: JK's writing style--are the HP books "well written"? (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?p=52777).
March 1st, 2004, 3:10 pm
How do you feel about this limited point of view?
I think it's not limited at all.. Well maybe a little bit. But the fact is that I prefer to have this point of view, since it's more realistic. It makes you get in Harry's shoes and feel whatever he's thinking. It makes you get involved with the character.
I must admit that for me it won't be very much exciting to know something before Harry, frustrate myself to death waiting for anyone to tell him... No.. I prefer to receive the surprise when Harry get's it, because, as I've said before, let's me get what Harry thinks.
I also think this point of view is the correct one.. Because, then it'll be: Harry Potter and his gang and the Order of the Phoenix... No.. The book is OF Harry.
March 8th, 2004, 3:40 am
i like the limited point of view, i mean the books are entitled 'harry potter' for a reason and not 'a bunch of kids at a wizarding school'. but i also like how when she jsut gives you harrys thoughts you can try to think what goes on in Ron or Hermione's mind, or even lesser characters like Colin or someone.
April 3rd, 2004, 11:42 am
I am quite proud of JKR tho..I mean if I was to write a story with only one point of view I would literally go crazy! When I do write fan fictions I have to go into other people's minds as well..its almost impossible for me not to..So i think its a great achievement of her
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