1. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Question about POV in novel Dune

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by architectus, Aug 26, 2008.

    In the novel Dune, by Frank Herbert, what is the POV?

    It seems to be limited 3rd person, but there are times it shares the thoughts of two characters one after the other.

    Thanks.
     
  2. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    If you don't mind here are some examplesd from chapter one, scene two.

    On page 4 the scene starts.

    The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam sat in a tapestried chair watching
    mother and son approach. Windows on each side of her overlooked the curving
    southern bend of the river and the green farmlands of the Atreides family
    holding, but the Reverend Mother ignored the view. She was feeling her age this
    morning, more than a little petulant. She blamed it on space travel and
    association with that abominable Spacing Guild and its secretive ways. But here
    was a mission that required personal attention from a Bene Gesserit-with-the-
    Sight. Even the Padishah Emperor's Truthsayer couldn't evade that responsibility
    when the duty call came.
    Damn that Jessica! the Reverend Mother thought. If only she 'd borne us a
    girl as she was ordered to do!
    Jessica stopped three paces from the chair, dropped a small curtsy, a gentle
    flick of left hand along the line of her skirt. Paul gave the short bow his
    dancing master had taught -- the one used "when in doubt of another's station."
    The nuances of Paul's greeting were not lost on the Reverend Mother. She
    said: "He's a cautious one, Jessica."
    Jessica's hand went to Paul's shoulder, tightened there. For a heartbeat,
    fear pulsed through her palm. Then she had herself under control. "Thus he has
    been taught, Your Reverence."
    What does she fear? Paul wondered.


    It seems to me it starts out from the limited view of the Reverend Mother. Yet he shares Paul's thoughts with us.

    Same scene page 5 it seems to switch to Paul's Limited view.

    Now, there was a man who appreciated the power of bravura -- even in death,
    the Reverend Mother thought.
    "Teaching is one thing," she said, "the basic ingredient is another. We
    shall see." The old eyes darted a hard glance at Jessica. "Leave us. I enjoin
    you to practice the meditation of peace."
    Jessica took her hand from Paul's shoulder. "Your Reverence, I --"
    "Jessica, you know it must be done."
    Paul looked up at his mother, puzzled.
    Jessica straightened. "Yes . . . of course."
    Paul looked back at the Reverend Mother. Politeness and his mother's obvious
    awe of this old woman argued caution. Yet he felt an angry apprehension at the
    fear he sensed radiating from his mother.
    "Paul . . . " Jessica took a deep breath. ". . . this test you're about to
    receive . . . it's important to me."
    "Test?" He looked up at her.

    It continues on from Paul's limited pov, but then on page 7 this happens.

    He heard the confirmation in her voice, said: "It's truth!"
    She stared at him. He senses truth! Could he be the one? Could he truly be
    the one? She extinguished the excitement, reminding herself: "Hope clouds
    observation."
    "You know when people believe what they say," she said.
    "I know it."
    The harmonics of ability confirmed by repeated test were in his voice. She
    heard them, said: "Perhaps you are the Kwisatz Haderach. Sit down, little
    brother, here at my feet."
    "I prefer to stand."
    "Your mother sat at my feet once."
    "I'm not my mother."
    "You hate us a little, eh?" She looked toward the door, called out:
    "Jessica!"
    The door flew open and Jessica stood there staring hard-eyed into the room.
    Hardness melted from her as she saw Paul. She managed a faint smile.
    "Jessica, have you ever stopped hating me?" the old woman asked.
    "I both love and hate you," Jessica said. "The hate -- that's from pains I
    must never forget. The love -- that's . . . "
    "Just the basic fact," the old woman said, but her voice was gentle. "You
    may come in now, but remain silent. Close that door and mind it that no one
    interrupts us."
    Jessica stepped into the room, closed the door and stood with her back to
    it. My son lives, she thought. My son lives and is . . . human. I knew he was .
    . . but . . . he lives. Now, I can go on living. The door felt hard and real
    against her


    It shares the thoughts of the Reverend Mother again. Something Paul was not aware of. Then it switches to Jessica's POV, which is Paul's mother. Because neither Paul or Reverend Mother could know how the wall felt against Jessica's back.

    In the next two lines it switches back to Paul's limited view.

    Is this considered third-person omniscient, or third-person limited-omniscient?
     
  3. Sophronia
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    I've read some of Dune, and it seems it was third-person limited omniscient, because it isn't always written with all the characters thinking different things in one or two scenes. In many parts you only see one character's POV instead of two or three, from what I can tell. It's just the way Frank Herbert wrote it.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Third person limited is the predominat POV sty;e, but a novel need not stick with a single POV throughout. Herbert switched POVs frequently, but in a well-managed way. At times he even uses an omniscient POV to describe events neither observed nor observable by any character.

    There are occasions in which he switches POV within a scene. Yueh's final interrogation by Vladimir Harkonnen comes to mind. But it's a tricky technique, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, until they have the experience to realize how they can make it work.
     
  5. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    cog, in the second scene that I posted some examples of, would you call that third-person limited-omniscient, or third-person omniscient?

    I am not sure if most distinguish the two. The first giving the writer the ability to jump between characters limited point of view, and the later giving the writer to give details that no character could know.

    If I recall LOTR is written that way.

    It seems to me that Dune does try to stick to the limitations of the characters in a scene, and sometimes to one characters limitations as pointed out by, I forgot the nic.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The three excerpts all use third person limited, but the POV character keeps shifting from one to another. This is what is typically referred to as head-hopping. It's not generally recommended, but it's not too terrible in these sections.

    I just wonder how much better the passages might have been if Herberts selected a POV for each scene and stuck to it.

    Fortunately, the head-hopping is not as confusing to the reader as it might be. At least all the POV switches are at paragraph boundaries.

    It just goes to show, no rule is absolute. A talented and experienc3ed writer can make something work that would trip up a less experienced writer. Herbert wanted to show how all three people perceived that intense pivotal experience, and he managed it, partly because each character's voice shines through clearly as each takes the POV.

    Contrast these passages with the sequels written by his son Brian Herbert with Kevin Anderson. Although the narrative style is similar, I found these sequels very difficult to wade through. The head-hopping is only part of the problem, but my overall conclusion has to be that Frank Herbert had writing instincts that his son didn't quite manage to inherit or absorb.

    Or at least, that's my opinion.
     

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