Ling 131: Language & Style
Topic 8 - Discourse structure and point of view > Linguistic indicators of point of view > Task F
|Discourse structure and point of view|
|Discourse structure of 1st and 3rd person novels|
|Being the author!|
|Different kinds of point of view|
|Linguistic indicators of point of view|
|Point of view in a more extended example|
|Point of view checksheet|
|Topic 8 'tool' summary|
Linguistic indicators of point of view
Task F - Verbs of perception and cognition
In the extract below, we are clearly given the point of view of the character
Ida Arnold. What role do the highlighted verbs play in this?
Besides the spatial, temporal and social aspects of viewpoint, we also need to consider personal and ideological attitude. Someone's viewpoint can also apply to how they feel about something, or what their attitude to it is. Consider the quotation below from a short story by D. H. Lawrence. Fanny is an educated woman who had left her village and the working class man she would otherwise have had to marry, in order to become a governess. Now her job has come to an end because her charge has now grown up, she is forced to return to the village to marry Harry, something which she appears very unwilling to do. We have highighted the words and phrases we are going to concentrate on:
First of all we can note the way in which the adjectives concerning the carriage of the train and the railway station are not just descriptive. They also have connotations which suggest disapproval on the part of the narrator and the character Fanny, from whose viewpoint the scene is surveyed, The external description of Fanny herself is, by contrast, approving in terms of the adjectives used. She appears to be a cut above her surroundings. We can also note the use of the distal deictic 'there' being used not just to suggest physical apartness from the perceiver, but also an analogical attitudinal distance. Harry is being coded in the same was as the unpleasant surroundings.
In the Lawrence extract we have just examined, the attitudes indicated
are by and large personal. But when such views are representative of more
general attitudes they are often referred to as ideological in nature.
Hence the shared social or political views of a group of people might
be called ideological. We can see this if we return to the example from
Something Out There by Nadine Gordimer, which we reproduce here
The phrases 'a nice change' and 'the usual sort of news' can now be seen as marking the attitude of the woman who is thinking these thoughts. Hence the news about the presence of the dangerous animal is described in approving terms (which is surely odd in itself), compared with ;'the usual sort of news'. But what is 'the usual sort of news' in this context? She is a white woman in South Africa as the apartheid system is breaking down. Hence it is possible to see her as representative of many white South Africans who had become to believe that their privileged existence at the expense of their black countryfolk (who were educated less well, had fewer legal rights and so on) was a right. Here, then we have an ideological viewpoint being expressed, to which to some degree we are being made to 'accommodate' via the use of deixis, given and new information and value-laden expressions. But in this case it is rather difficult to agree with the ideological viewpoint being assumed by the woman, and so we are left with an ironic tension between the pull of the viewpoint markers and the content of what is being expressed. Viewpoint considerations in this little extract are thus quite complex, and the irony involved is not unlike that we saw with Mr Verloc waiting to be murdered by his wife.