Who is telling the story here?!

The other day my teacher tried to teach the class about internal and external focalization. In The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway is the internal focalizer, he is a character in the story, interacting with the other characters. When he is the external focalizer, he is the writer at his typewriter, telling Gatsby’s story.

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My teacher also used the example of a Winnie the Pooh movie. The instances of internal focalization are when the Pooh, Tigger and the other characters are interacting inside the story. However, when the narrator is speaking, or when you see the pages of the book being flipped, that is external focalization.

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I really found it interesting how a strategy used in a children’s movie was also used in a well known literary work. Then I realized that internal and external focalization can also be found in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. In the movie, a grandfather reads to his grandson the love story about a woman named Buttercup and a man named Westley. The movie continually jumps back and forth between the narration of the grandson and his grandfather (external focalization), and the story of Buttercup and Westley (internal focalization).

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I had seen this movie years ago; I’ve seen it several times since then. I’ve recognized this narration and storytelling, but never thought much of it until now. I didn’t even know it had a name. This really made me think about all the things I notice, but don’t really know what I’m looking at. It’s times like this in my English class I really feel like I’m finally learning something interesting at school.

– Karen

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