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The act of referring to oneself in the third person instead of first person
Illeism (from Latinille meaning "he, that") is the act of referring to oneself in the third person instead of first person. It is sometimes used in literature as a stylistic device. In real-life usage, illeism can reflect a number of different stylistic intentions or involuntary circumstances.
Early literature such as Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico or Xenophon's Anabasis, both ostensibly non-fictional accounts of wars led by their authors, used illeism to impart an air of objective impartiality, which included justifications of the author's actions. In this way personal bias is presented, albeit dishonestly, as objectivity.
In an essay, theologian Richard B. Hays challenged earlier findings that he disagrees with: "These were the findings of one Richard B. Hays, and the newer essay treats the earlier work and earlier author at arms' length."
Illeism may also be used to show idiocy, as with the character Mongo in Blazing Saddles, e.g. "Mongo like candy" and "Mongo only pawn in game of life"; though it may also show innocent simplicity, as it does with Harry Potter's Dobby the Elf ("Dobby has come to protect, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door").
Some parents use illeism (refer to themselves as "Daddy" or "Mommy") because very young children may not yet understand that the pronouns "I" and "you" refer to different people based on context.
Lothar Matthäus (b. 1961), German football manager and former player, is quoted with the phrase: "A Lothar Matthäus does not let himself be beaten by his body. A Lothar Matthäus decides on his fate himself."
Cam Newton (b. 1989), NFL quarterback, referred to himself in third person during his press conference at the NFL Combine in 2011.
Norman Mailer's non-fiction work, The Fight (1975), refers to the author in the third person throughout The Fight, explaining why he has chosen to do so at the beginning of the book.
Major Bagstock, the apoplectic retired Indian army officer from Charles Dickens' Dombey and Son (1848) refers to himself solely as Joseph, Old Joe, Joey B, Bagstock, Josh, J.B., Anthony Bagstock, and other variants of his own name.
Charlie from the acclaimed novel Flowers for Algernon (1959) speaks in third person in the "being outside one's body and watching things happen" manner in his flashbacks to his abusive and troubled childhood suffering from phenylketonuria.
Boday, a quirky female artist from Jack Chalker's Changewinds trilogy (1987-8).
The healer and wisewoman Magda Digby from the Owen Archer series (1993-2019) by Candace Robb.
Jaqen H'ghar, an assassin of the Faceless Men in the fantasy suite A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-), consistently refers to himself ("a man") and sometimes the person he is addressing (i.e. "a girl") in third person.
Mantis almost always refers to herself as "Mantis", "she", and "this one"; this has to do with her upbringing at the Temple of the Priests of Pama, an alien pacifistic sect heavily inspired by real-life Eastern religious movements.
. Mr. French from Family Affair
Elmo from Sesame Street (1969-present), whose speech is intended to mimic the speech of preschoolers.
^Richard B. Hays, "'Here We Have No Lasting City': New Covenantalism in Hebrews" in Richard J. Bauckham et al. (eds.), The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 151-173, esp. 151-152, 167.
^Shefter, Adam (2011-02-27). "Sources: Cam Newton thrown for loop". ESPN.com. His comment drew such a reaction because some say his swagger teeters on the edge of pure arrogance. In roughly 12 minutes at the podium, he referred to himself in the third person three times. When asked if some mistake his confidence for cockiness, he said: "I'm not sure, but I'm a confident person, and it was instilled in myself at an early age to believe in myself".
^Wiltz, Teresa (2006-11-02). "Love Him, Or Leave Him?". Washington Post. Retrieved . They all purport to be in love with Flav, a man who refers to himself in the third person and whose idea of fine dining is a dash to Red Lobster.
^Rod Elledge (2007). Use of the Third Person for Self-Reference by Jesus and Yahweh: A Study of Illeism in the Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Its Implications for Christology. Bloomsbury T&T Clark. ISBN9780567671448.
^RavenWolf, Silver (2001). Witches' Key to Terror. Llewellyn Worldwide. p. 25. ISBN9780738700496. The three girls milled around the kitchen, dodging Ramona, looking for midnight snacks. Bethany wished for the thousandth time that the housekeeper would not talk about herself in the third person. Too weird.
^Simpson, Craig (June 17, 2009). "Summer of '84--Waxing on Nostalgia: The Karate Kid". Slant Magazine. Miyagi is a trickier case: at first it looks like Avildsen overplays the man's exoticness (cue that pan flute!), enforced by Kamen's questionable emphasis on the character's me-no-likey phonetic third-person English. ("Miyagi this, Miyagi that...")
^"Quotes for Magua (Character)". IMDB. 2014-08-01. When the Grey Hair is dead, Magua will eat his heart. Before he dies, Magua will put his children under the knife, so the Grey Hair will know his seed is wiped out forever.
^"Cars 2 - An interview with director John Lasseter". Sound and Picture Online. 2011-06-20. He's not just any formula car. He's the star from Italy, Francesco Bernoulli. He is so full of himself--he's an open-wheel car and in the car world, an open-wheel car is like those guys who barely button their shirts. He talks about himself in the third person. Voicing Francesco Bernoulli is John Turturro and he hit it out of the park. It's one of the most entertaining characters we've ever created.
^Moody, Allen (2013-11-05). "Haganai - Review". THEM Anime Reviews. Like Tim, I didn't like most of the other characters, especially Rika, whose tics (speaking of herself in the third person, and imagining sexual situations in the damnedest places- for example, in mecha manga) kept making me shout "Make it STOP!!!!"