What is Illeism? What are the Benefits of Illeism? Uses in Literature


 What is Illeism? What is the philosophy of Illeism and the uses of Illeism in literature? What are the potential benefits Illeism?


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Illeism is the practice of referring to oneself in the third person. This means that instead of using words like “I” or “me,” a person who practices illieism would use their own name or other third-person pronouns to talk about themselves.

Illeism is often associated with certain groups, such as athletes or celebrities, who may use it as a way to create a public persona or to distance themselves from their personal lives. However, it can also be used by individuals in everyday conversation, as a way to express humility or to convey a sense of formality.

While Illeism is not necessarily considered grammatically incorrect, it is generally considered to be a nonstandard form of speech or writing. Some people may find it confusing or off-putting, while others may view it as a harmless quirk or affectation.


There are some potential benefits to using illeism, depending on the context and the individual’s goals. Here are a few examples:

  1. Creating a distinct identity: For some people, using illieism can help to create a unique and memorable persona. This can be useful for public figures such as athletes, entertainers, or politicians who want to stand out from the crowd and be more easily recognizable to their fans or constituents.
  2. Building rapport: In certain cultures or social contexts, using third-person speech may be seen as a sign of respect or politeness. By referring to oneself in the third person, an individual may be able to establish a more formal or respectful tone in their interactions with others.
  3. Improving objectivity: In some situations, using third-person speech can help an individual to distance themselves emotionally from a situation and see it more objectively. For example, a therapist might use illieism when talking about their own experiences in order to maintain a professional distance from their clients.

Overall, it’s important to note that illieism is not necessary or appropriate in all situations, and it may not be a good fit for everyone’s communication style. As with any aspect of language use, it’s important to consider the context, audience, and goals when deciding whether to use illieism or other forms of self-reference.

Uses in Literature

Illeism is a literary technique that has been used in various works of literature throughout history. Here are some examples of how illieism has been used in literature:

  1. Creating a unique voice: Some authors use illieism to create a distinct narrative voice for their stories or characters. For example, William Faulkner’s novel “As I Lay Dying” is narrated by several different characters, each of whom uses their own distinct version of illieism.
  2. Establishing a sense of detachment: In some works of literature, using illeism can create a sense of emotional distance between the narrator or character and the events of the story. This can be used to convey a sense of irony or detachment. For example, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the narrator Nick Carraway refers to himself in the third person at times to emphasize his role as an observer rather than a participant in the events of the novel.
  3. Creating a sense of formality: In some types of literature, such as epic poetry or historical chronicles, illieism can be used to create a sense of formality and distance between the narrator or author and the subject matter. This can be seen in works such as “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer, which use a combination of first- and third-person narration to create a sense of epic grandeur.

Overall, the use of illieism in literature can serve many purposes, from creating unique voices and perspectives to conveying a sense of formality or detachment. Like any literary technique, it can be used effectively or ineffectively depending on the context and the author’s skill.


Here is an example of how illieism can be used in literature:

In William Faulkner’s novel “As I Lay Dying,” the story is narrated by 15 different characters, each with their own distinctive voice and perspective. One of these characters, Addie Bundren, is the mother of the family and the central figure around whom the plot revolves. However, Addie is dead by the time the novel begins, and her sections of the narration are therefore told from beyond the grave.

In these sections, Faulkner uses illieism to create a sense of detachment and otherworldliness in Addie’s voice. For example, in one passage, Addie reflects on her life and her relationship with her husband:

“Alive, I was Cleopatra; dead, I was dead. And yet I lived in both. I knew, of course, that I was dead. But I was also alive in my own way. There was something in me that refused to die completely.”


By referring to herself in the third person, Addie creates a sense of distance between herself and the events of the story, emphasizing her status as a ghostly presence rather than a living character. At the same time, her use of illieism creates a haunting, poetic quality to her voice, emphasizing the sense of loss and longing that permeates the novel.

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