The UVic Writer's Guide


The persona was the mask worn by an actor in Greek drama. In a literary context, the persona is the character of the first-person narrator in verse or prose narratives, and the speaker in lyric poetry. The use of the term "persona" (as distinct from "author") stresses that the speaker is part of the fictional creation, invented for the author's particular purposes in a given literary work.

The persona may be completely different from the author, as in the naive narrator of Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), or may seem to be identifiable with the author, as in the lyric poems of Wordsworth and Keats. But even in the latter case the persona can only be an aspect of the author--a mood or attitude adopted for the purposes of a particular work, and which changes subtly or drastically from one work to another. (See also tone , voice , point of vew .)

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995