The Return of the Native
by Thomas Hardy
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person (Omniscient)
Our narrator is omniscient, or all-knowing. But the narrator's often very detached from the action. The narrator is almost retelling a myth in a lot of ways – there's a strong sense of history, past tragedies, and fate in the narrative, all of which impact how the narrator tells the story. And the omniscience of the narrator comes through in this idea of fate. There's a sense that the narrator knows what's on the horizon.
The narrator is also a psychological profiler. We get long character studies and insight into people's thoughts and feelings, even things that they aren't aware of themselves. Additionally, the narrator's God-like omniscience comes out in the book's theatrical style. The narrator functions like a director at times, surveying the action and watching the characters maneuver around the "stage" of Egdon Heath. And, like a director, there's a definite level of detachment in the narrator. The narrator may know all, but he keeps his feelings on everything largely to himself.