Omniscient, in a descriptive meaning, defines the capacity of having universal knowledge. This notion can also be defined as someone who has unlimited awareness and understanding. The term originates from the word “omniscientia” (Medieval Latin), where the prefix “omni” stands for "all" and the verb “scientia” for "knowledge."
The first mentioning of this Notion dates back to the early 17th century when it was used by philosophers to speak of God’s infinite awareness. The quality and the state of possessing the total knowledge, within the religious context, is mainly referred to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The term turns into a significant concept not only in Christianity but all the related religions as well. In some of the Far East philosophies, the term is associated with a universal ability of every human and the purpose of life that every human must pursue.
In literary pieces, omniscient can be used as a literary method of narrating in the third person when the author has a deep understanding of the emotional state of every character involved in the story. The author manages to craft the characters’ life so realistically by representing the events via various voices and developing the required form based on the distance. When the writer introduces the details about the world around the major character, it becomes clear that the author is the only source of information.
This literary device can be applied in two basic forms:
●The all-knowing omniscient viewpoint is applied when a narrator knows every element of the story. The benefits of this method involve the use of dramatic irony, a distinct voice, a realistic backstory narrated without filtering, and rapid transitions in action.
This narrative form is one of the oldest in the recorded storytelling. The tales of Heracles or Odin were narrated by bards who can be considered the first omniscient storytellers. For example, Dan Brown in his “Da Vinci Code” refers to this form so that the major characters express their viewpoints in the form of speech. Furthermore, the narrator is familiar with background details that remain unknown for characters.
●The limited omniscient viewpoint is applied when the main focus is set on one specific character, while the rest of characters are kept in the background. The benefits of the limited method involve greater intimacy between the reader and a specific character as well as a level of uncertainty about minor characters. For example, J.K. Rowling in her “Harry Potter series of books” applies this method to keep the reader well-informed about Harry’s emotional state, while the inner world of other characters remains unknown.
The function of this literary tool in the context is to let the reader get familiar with all the details moving between characters’ private feelings. This literary tool lets the author develop a broader and more objective piece of his or her world’s history by adhering dramatic tension to the context.
Furthermore, an omniscient viewpoint can be used in a special form of the intrusive narrator. It is expressed through a remote switch to a different character. A new section of the story can unveil new details on participants, events, time, places, and an emotional state of the characters. The intrusive narrator strives to represent own thoughts and ideas related to the plot details. This may also involve a certain degree of evaluation of the events occurred in the story as well as the expressed worldviews in general.
This literary device is the easiest way to get into characters’ minds and develop a strong connection with them. A storytelling process becomes more engaging, while the chain of the story events develops by moving from one character to another.
Seeing the contextual reaction of characters, it becomes easier for the reader to grasp the concept of the story. Creating a story through various voices, the focus is set on the nuances that determine the insights of the story. Furthermore, the reader is given an objective understanding of the plot elements, in contrast to individual considerations.
The term is also used to address the advances in the field of surveillance technology that aims to develop a dataset of all of the operations, processes, and images of individual and corporate users. The modern cinematography engages this term and the idea behind this term in developing the plot of the movies, including the recent “Spectre” and “Minority Report.”
This technique is also widely used as an effective cinematographic approach to predicate the language of cinema. Thus, a narrator can adhere the simplicity to the context by, for example, establishing a shot showing the environment instead of specific characters. This makes the atmosphere of the movie more determined, and the entire story is thus perceived through the specific mood. The movie “The Lord of the Rings” is an example of using this type of narrator that enables fast transmission from small to big pictures.
Omniscient, in a general understanding, is used to describe someone having universal knowledge. The term derives from the Latin word “omniscientia,” meaning "all knowledge."
In religion, omniscient is mainly applied in relation to the endless knowledge of God. As a literary device, it is addressed as a third person narrator to provide a viewpoint where the narrator has a deep engagement in the emotional state of characters. The major function of this literary tool is to provide the reader with all details by setting the connections between the emotional world and the events in various perspectives. Less common is the use of the term in cinematography and surveillance technologies.