8 junio, 2024

Equiscient narrator: concept, characteristics and examples

He equiscient narrator is one who tells the story using the third person. He tells everything he sees, but only from the point of view of a character. Everything he knows about the facts he obtains from what is happening and from the direct part of the rest of the characters as they reveal it.

The interesting thing about using this resource in the narrative is that it allows adding more mystery to the plot. That is why it is so popular in detective novels. The little knowledge of the other aspects of the story and of what the other characters think and feel, causes a curiosity that gives spark and tension to the story.

This narrative form had its peak at the beginning of the first half of the 20th century. Renowned writers like Raymond Thornton Chandler used it in his novels. The approach that allows us to give the perspective from which it is told made it easier for novels like The falcon takes flight by Chandler himself, will make it to the movies.


Characteristics of the equiscient narrator

– Narrates from the third person

That is, he will always use the singular personal pronouns “he” or “she”. On the other hand, although it is unusual, she can use the plurals “they” or “them”. For example:

“He came to his brother’s house. He was in a hurry, he needed to know how his mother was. He went into the room, and could see José, who was noticeably worried. They stared at each other, hugged and cried together. It was obvious that they were unwell due to the disease suffered by the woman who brought them into the world.

– Narrates from a character’s point of view

The equiscient narrator knows a character’s thoughts, desires, and motivations. However, of the rest of the characters he only knows what can be observed.

– It is the camera that shows the events

This is a common comparison that they usually make, because this narrator is describing what he observes in detail. Of course, objectivity is not lost. To do this, we try to avoid the constant use of qualifying adjectives.

– Does not interpret anything

The function of the equiscient narrator is simply to show everything that happens. He is not qualified to conclude or to deduce anything regarding the events. He, in himself, is a resource used by the writer to describe the events.

– Generates action in the plot

The equiscient narrator’s perspective adds dynamism to the plot. The action takes center stage, well above the characters. In fact, the latter are usually in control of what happens and their thoughts and feelings remain in the background.

This deletion of the section referring to the construction of the characters can subtract a certain degree of depth from the story. Nevertheless, the action gains considerable power.

– He is an omnipresent narrator

Although this narrator does not know everything about the plot or what the other characters think or feel, he is everywhere. And that is very necessary, because it is through his presence that the reader has access to the events of the story that is being told.

Variants of the equiscient narrator

The common equiscient narrator

It is the one that was described at the beginning. He narrates what is happening and what he hears from the characters. (See the examples).

focused equiscient narrator

This is the most popularized on the web concepts. The narrator is linked to a character in the plot and knows everything about him: thoughts and emotions. However, he continues to ignore what the rest of the characters feel. Hence, he is also called a «limited omniscient narrator.» (See the examples).

The focused equiscient narrator should not be confused with the protagonist narrator. Although in this case the narrator tells what the protagonist feels or thinks, he does not become it in any way.

A clear example can be seen at the beginning of Franz Kafka’s short novel, Metamorphosis. In this case, the narrator tells the protagonist’s experience from within, but without becoming him.

Multifocused equiscient narrator

This is presented in the stories in which the equiscient narrator moves between characters. The displacement of the narrator’s vision usually occurs between chapters. For example, in one chapter he speaks from the perspective of Mary, in the next from Joseph, and so on. (See examples).

Examples of texts with equiscient narrated

Taking into account the aforementioned characteristics, three examples of equiscient narrated will be built:

– The shipwreck (equiscient narrator)

His body washed up on shore with multiple injuries. It was dawn, the sun rising on the horizon, to his left, between gray clouds. He got up, brushed the sand off his pants and his shirt, which were noticeably damaged, and walked—with evident weakness—toward a nearby ranch.

A group of crows hovered near the building over what looked like the carcass of a small animal. He saw them, but didn’t pay much attention to them. He just wanted to sit in the shade and get some sleep…

– The break (focused equiscient narrator)

José left his girlfriend’s house devastated. Many sad thoughts passed through his mind. He felt devastated. Memories pounded in his chest making tears flow uncontrollably. He stopped under an oak tree, leaned his back against the trunk, and slid to the ground. The crying choked him uncontrollably.

«Why?» he asked himself over and over again. «What did I do wrong?», she said to herself. The truth is that just two days ago, she and he were the perfect courtship. They had the basic issues, but nothing that would worry her or signal that a breakup would happen.

– The trip to the moon (multifocused equiscient narrator)

Chapter I

Upon reaching the ship, there was an inevitable flashback. All the memories of the harsh training came back to him. Maria felt accomplished and sad, a strange and exciting mix of sensations invaded her.

Chapter II

José, sitting at his command post, became lost in thought. Maria had already entered the ship an hour ago. He saw her, and her heart pounded wildly. This time he would tell her everything, they had a long journey for the dream to come true. He alone had to remove a number from the equation.

Chapter III

When Pedro left the ship’s kitchen, his eyes lit up when he saw Maria in her place. «How beautiful she is!», He thought to himself. It was always like this, since they met, when they said yes, and now that they would travel into space with his best friend.


Domenech, L and Romero, A. (S. f.). The types of narrator. (N/a): Materials Language and Literature. Retrieved from: materialesdelengua.org
(2020). Spain: Wikipedia. Recovered from: es.wikipedia.org.
How to choose narrator: The equiscient narrator. (2014). Spain: Box of letters.
Characteristics of the equiscient narrator. (2015). (N/a): Literary flame. Recovered from: flamaliteraria.blogspot.com
Bertone, M., Garcia, A., Schwab, L. (S. f.). IB Oxford Diploma Programme: Spanish A: Literature, Student’s Book. Argentina: Google Books. Retrieved from: books.google.com.ar.

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