The strange case of Francis Dolarhyde and the Dragon: Alternating narrative points of view and the source of knowledge in Thomas Harris’ 'Red Dragon'

Keywords: narrative voice and point of view, Thomas Harris, epistemology, empiricism, rationalism, cognition


This paper investigates the narrative voice employed by Thomas Harris in Red Dragon as a source of knowledge about the fictional universe, more particularly about the main villain, Francis Dolarhyde. Confronting important epistemological notions (knowledge, justification and their sources) with literary theoretical concepts (narrative voice and points of view), I analyse alternating modes of representation. Harris’ narrator shifts between three modes: the quasi-perceptual one – sense-based, rich in descriptive elements; the quasi-introspective narration carried out from a close subjective angle, using free indirect speech or stream of consciousness; and the testimonial mode – telling (rather than showing) the story through exposition resting on the principle of cause and effect. Employing a vast array of inter-textual pragmatics, the narrative remains ambiguous. In consequence, any proposition about Dolarhyde can be empirically and rationally challenged and all propositional knowledge regarding the character is merely fragmentary.


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How to Cite
Stiepanow, J. (2018). The strange case of Francis Dolarhyde and the Dragon: Alternating narrative points of view and the source of knowledge in Thomas Harris’ ’Red Dragon’. Beyond Philology An International Journal of Linguistics, Literary Studies and English Language Teaching, (15/4), 47-68. Retrieved from