Patterns of Literature
First Person Perspective in Fiction;
An Analysis of A Journal Of The Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
Characterization and point of view are two very important tools that authors use in writing fiction. They both interoperate with one another to advance the plot and contribute significantly to the meaning. An author’s choice of point of view can reveal the purpose, strategy or intentions that he or she aimed for as well. One such author that wrote his fiction with evident strategy is Daniel Defoe in his work A Journal Of The Plague Year. This story is about a man recording the events and observations of the plague “visitation,” as the narrator calls it, to London during the
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With Daniel Defoe’s journal, the narrator is questionable yet intriguing from the start. What is really important to point out, is the fact that the narrator didn’t identify himself at all to his readers. Why would Defoe write a journal, fiction or nonfiction in first person point of view and not reveal the name of his character? Without a name, or established identity, we as the readers, are left disoriented. If the point of a personal journal is so the readers can get inside the narrator, the anonymity seems to have the exact opposite results intended. In fact, rather than describing himself at all in the beginning, the narrator starts his journal as if he is writing a report by stating “It was about the beginning of September, 1664, that I, among the rest of my neighbors heard in ordinary discourse that the plague was returned again in Holland…whither, they say, it was brought, some said Italy, others from the Levant, among some goods which were brought by their Turkey fleet” (Defoe 1). Nothing in his opening remarks does the narrator attempt to form a relationship with his readers. We know for a fact that he does want others to read his journal when he later on explains “I have set this particular down so fully, because I know not but it may be of moment to those who come after me…therefore I desire this account may pass with them for a direction to themselves…seeing it may not be of one farthing value to them to note what became of me” (Defoe 2).