External focalization

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External focalization occurs when the narrator presents the aspects of the story using solely observable, external information.



External focalization, as opposed to internal focalization, has the narrator focus on visible, external aspects of events and characters in the narrative. The narrator, in this method, does not impart any information as to characters' thoughts or feelings, but merely relates physically ascertainable facts to the reader. Assuming a role outside of the characters' consciousnesses, this type of narrator or focalizer has access to the characters' utterances, but adds no interpretation or analysis.


"Mrs. Bagnet is not at all an ill-looking woman. Rather large-boned, a little coarse in the grain, and freckled by the sun and wind which have tanned her hair upon the forehead, but healthy, wholesome, and bright-eyed. A strong, busy, active, honest-faced woman of from forty-five to fifty. Clean, hardy, and so economically dressed (though substantially) that the only article of ornament of which she stands possessed appear's to be her wedding-ring, around which her finger has grown to be so large since it was put on that it will never come off again until it shall mingle with Mrs. Bagnet's dust."

-Charles Dickens, Bleak House

Critical Debates

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Related Terms

focalizer, focalized, focalization, internal focalization


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