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What Point of View Is Used in "Was It a Dream?" by Guy de Maupassant?


Guy de Maupassant's short story "Was It a Dream?" uses first person point of view throughout. Yale University professor and author, Harold Bloom, in his critical volume "How to Read and Why," notes that De Maupassant in his horror tales often provides readers with an unreliable narrator, leaving the reader unsure about whether to "trust his impressions."

Mental Anguish and Doubt

"Was It a Dream?" tells not only of mental anguish, but also of jealous doubt. A grieving lover, mourning at his beloved's grave, imagines that the surrounding dead emerge to write their true stories on their headstones. His beloved writes, "having gone out in the rain one day to deceive her lover, she caught cold and died." De Maupassant's selection of first person point of view is essential in light of the lover's self-involvement and self-deception, as he doubts not only his nightmare vision, but also his lover's fidelity.

A Tale Reflecting Reality

De Maupassant was afflicted with syphilis from his early twenties, and many of his tales reflect his mental disorder. An unreliable first-person narrator who doubts his lover, his visions, and even his sanity fulfills that sensibility.

About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.

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