No image of the Narrator exists
The Narrator is an unnamed character and the protagonist of Dear Esther. Players experience the game through his perspective in first-person view, with his commentary appearing throughout the game.
The Narrator is an ambiguous figure whose voices can be heard throughout the game. It is generally agreed that the story is being told from different perspectives because the Narrator has at least 3 variable voice casts, representing different figures (or at least linking to them). As a result, it is impossible to determine whether he is a standalone person within the story or multiple ones at a time.
One theory suggests that the protagonist may be Esther herself since The Narrator's voice can be heard saying,"Come back... Come back... Esther, Esther..." during the song "Ascension". However, it is possible that The Narrator was simply remembering the past, and the letters themselves were written as a form of dealing with his grief, despite the fact that Esther is dead. On top of that the story is told by male characters in its entirety, making this theory unlikely.
Though The Narrator is the protagonist of Dear Esther, he is never seen in third person, and no pictures exist of him. The Narrator is presumably middle aged ranging from mid 30's to 50's, he is clearly an articulate man who studies history, whether it's for pleasure or for work. He is a philosophical man who notably puts his words and phrases into analogies, similes and metaphors. The Narrator suffers from depression, this is shown numerous times in Dear Esther in his monologue. The Narrator has a somewhat cynical side to him, when talking about The Hermit he mocks his attempt to talk to the sea creatures. "How disappointed he must have been with their chatter."
| Spoiler warning!|
This article contains plot details about Dear Esther. Proceed at your own risk! Make sure to have played the game at least once.
The Narrator has come to the Hebridean Island, where the game takes place, to die after losing Esther and possibly an unborn child in a car accident. It is unclear how often the Narrator has visited the island, since by the time the narration begins he can no longer remember. It is also unclear why he chose the island as his resting place. It should be noted that, even at the start of the story, the Narrator is extremely unreliable - stories and events and reality have all blended together in his mind, so that the player must struggle to discover what is truth and what isn't.
The Narrator begins his story standing on a slope in front of a dilapidated lighthouse. As the player explores the area with him various paintings and candles can be found strewn throughout the landscape, a path for the player and the Narrator to follow. Whenever the player kills him or herself (by walking off a cliff, for example) The Narrator can be heard saying "Come back", causing the player to awaken close to the place where they "died", apparently unharmed.
Halfway through the second level, the player can find the bothy where The Narrator made a temporary lodging. In the fireplace the player can find several texts, including Donnelly's book, which The Narrator brought from the mainland. The books are half-burnt, although not completely destroyed. In some playthroughs the books will not be in the fireplace but will instead be on a table in the bothy.
Eventually the player falls down a deep hole into the island's subterranean cave network, finding more candles and cryptic drawings placed along the path. After falling down another deep hole into a subterranean river, the player has a brief delusional experience set on a highway which depicts an event from The Narrator's past (which event it is may vary; it may be two cars representing Esther's car crash or an operating table representing The Narrator's kidney stone removal, for example), although whether it is from Esther's perspective or The Narrator's is not clear. The player then inexplicably awakens underwater. Similar shorter delusional episodes involving the tall aerial the player is heading for may be witnessed if the player tries to die by drowning.
Upon emerging from the caves the player can find small shrines of candles scattered around the coast containing objects related to Esther and the car crash, such as pictures, birds' nests containing eggs, or pieces of a car. The player can also find several letters that The Narrator never sent to Esther, floating close to the shore in the form of paper boats. The Narrator claims to have watched all the letters sink into the ocean, yet most, if not all, are still intact and floating when the player finds them.
As the player ascends the mountain, long lines of writing similar to the Damascus quotes seen in the caves can be found along the cliff face. The Narrator's dialogue also continues, and it seems he intends to throw himself from the top of the aerial. When the player reaches the aerial, The Narrator dictates a final monologue as the player ascends the aerial and throws himself off.
The Narrator refers to "carving this pass through on the island ahead of him" He says that it will be easier for himself or even the player because of it. Perhaps this is implying that he is dead as well, and the path that has been carved through the island is a method of coming to terms with the fact that The Narrator is dead. It is possible that you play as The Narrator's spirit retracing the last steps of his life, or that the island itself is a form of limbo, possibly existing within The Narrator's mind. The fade to an infinitely black screen suggests death, meaning that the narrator has come to terms with his death and has died peacefully.
- The Narrator is never given a name, nor does he have a physical form - the game is first person point-of-view, so the player never sees what the Narrator looks like. He may as well be a nameless spirit in the game.
- The Narrator claims to have stolen Donnelly's book from the library before his last trip to the island.
- As the story progresses, the Narrator's already broken narrative gets worse - he becomes delirious and more unreliable as the game goes forward. This may correlate to dialogue indicating that the narrator is suffering from injuries.
- The Narrator at some point in his life had kidney stones, it is implied that he either still has kidney stones or that they may have come back. He refers to his kidney stones in many of his analogies about the island, himself and his life.
- The Narrator claims to be suffering a broken femur he sustained after having slipped while exploring the island. The resulting blood infection traces a black line from the injury to his heart. The Narrator has been taking pain medication which he salvaged from a crashed vessel on the shore in order stay cognizant for his trek through the island.