Definition of Subjective

A subjective point of view is something based on one’s opinions, perspectives, beliefs, discoveries, desires, and feelings. It has no concern with right or wrong, other than the person’s opinion of what is right and wrong. Likewise, subjective writing or point of view is based on the writer’s own observation and experience. It focuses on the writer’s personal point of view and not built on facts that others see or things others go through.

Third person point of view can also be subjective. It is known as “limited omniscience,” in which a writer knows every detail about a character and sees the whole story through that character’s eyes.

Difference between Subjective and Objective

The major difference between subjective and objective is that subjective information is based on just one person’s feelings, assumptions, and opinions. It has a viewpoint of that person regardless of information or arguments it offers. Objective, on the other hand, is the information a writer or speaker provides outside of his/her personal opinions or feelings. It is based on facts.

Examples of Subjective in Literature

Example #1: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (By J. K. Rowling)

“Harry had taken up his place at wizard school, where he and his scar were famous … but now the school year was over, and he was back with the Dursleys for the summer, back to being treated like a dog that had rolled in something smelly. The Dursleys hadn’t even remembered that today happened to be Harry’s twelfth birthday …”

In this passage, readers can see how Harry is feeling, thinking, and what is happening with him. They follow him very closely, but are unable to see what the Dursleys are feeling or thinking about Harry. This is a depiction of subjective feelings.

Example #2: Ode on a Grecian Urn (by John Keats)

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on…
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;”

This excerpt is a very good example of a subjective approach. Here, the speaker is expressing his feelings of love for the old days of Ancient Greece, as displayed through pictures on a marble pot. In this stanza, he is talking about a musician, playing pipes beautifully. He escapes from physical world to his world of fantasy, where weather never changes and there is an eternal spring.

Example #3: Sonnet 18 (by William Shakespeare)

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May….
But thy eternal summer shall not fade…
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

In these lines, the speaker expresses his opinion about his beloved, who is lovelier than the summer’s day. All the elements such as admiration and comparisons are subjective because standards of beauty for one person may not be the same for others.

Example #4: O Captain! My Captain! (by Walt Whitman)

“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack,
the prize we sought is won…
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells…”

In this poem, the speaker is a sailor. He sings this song for the captain who leads his ship and crew safely into harbor after a dangerous long voyage. However, the captain dies in the end, and the speaker is in a somber and intense mood of sadness. This is also an excellent example of a subjective mood.

Example #5: She Walks in Beauty (by George Gordon, Lord Byron)

“She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.”

In this stanza, the speaker is a poet himself who praises an anonymous woman. Comparing her beauty to night on the sky filled with stars. He expresses his feelings by comparing her to light and dark that she is a combination of both. This is purely a subjective approach of expression.

Function of Subjective

Subjective approach or presentation or view point is useful and allows the readers to get an insight into the mind of a writer through interpretations and explication of his characters, thoughts, opinions and beliefs. Subjective writing or point of view builds tension and provides a greater freedom to readers to interpret actions of individual characters. This approach givens a view that every person sees a thing from different perspective.

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