The Faithful Wife: point of view
“The Faithful Wife”, written by Barbara L. Greenberg, uses first-person narration to depict the style, language, and theme of the poem. By using first-person narration, Barbara Greenberg was able to portray events and ideas very persuasively to the reader. In addition, this first-person narrator creates dramatic irony concerning the title in reference to the body of the poem.
The reader from the start is aware of the point of view that the poem is being told in. The first sentence is “But if I”, which shows the narrator is in first person. By using first-person the readers are able to have the confidence that the events being told are believable because they come from a first hand character and not a third person unreliable character who could misdirect the reader. The narrator presents a theme using her imaginary lover with the excerpt “But if I were to have a lover, it would be someone who could take nothing from you.” This would be much more difficult and not remotely have the same effect if it was done in any other perspective. The reader gains trust and can connect better when the writing is in first person. Emotion is expressed with more energy and force with this perspective and is evident with the concluding sentence, “with my other body, the one that you have never asked to see.” Third-person perspective wouldn’t compare in having the same effect with that last strong sentence. As the reader, we are not sure if the narrator is the author of the piece or if she created a persona. By using a persona, or narrator, she is able to stretch the inventive boundaries of her pieces.
Barbara Greenberg made a decision to use first-person point of view to achieve the right interpretation from the reader. Using this strategy she was able to define one and only one meaning to the events that took place. The story would have totally different meanings if it were done with a different point of view. “My lover would blame me for his heart’s distress” and “I would dance with him, but to a music you and I would never choose to hear” are perfect examples and are depicted correctly by the first-person approach because an impersonal third-person narrator would lack the same denotation.
This first-person narration in “The Faithful Wife” has the opportunity to spawn some sort of irony due to her limited view. What the narrator says and her justifications for her actions might be viewed differently by the reader, which creates irony – dramatic irony in this case. In the beginning of the poem the narrator begins with ” it would be someone who could take nothing from you. I would, in conscience, not dishonor you” which she is already aligning her actions and justifying her possible “immoral” thoughts by declaring it acceptable. This is ironic because the title is “The Faithful Wife”, which the reader sees, but the narrator doesn’t and is coveting for another imaginary custom built man and goes on describing him and how different he is from her current husband and how not wrong she is for thinking so. This dramatic irony is only possible because the poem is in first-person point of view and the narrator has a limited viewpoint and the reader sees the entire situation. This could be argued that there is no dramatic irony due to the fact that the wife never physically cheats on her husband, but just “hypothetically” creates this dream man who meets all her secret inner desires which her husband fails to satisfy, but one could also see it as dramatic irony where the innocent title contradicts the content’s meaning, being of coveting and that the reader and the narrator see different levels of truth. But who knows.
The different meanings taken by a reader using different points of view are huge, so it is important to determine which tactic to use to fully achieve the desired perceptions from the reader. Barbara Greenberg successfully used first-person point of view and created dramatic irony due to a limited view of the narrator, and was able to persuasively convince the reader of events that took place in her poem and emphasize emotion in the right place and right manner.