Omniscient Viewpoint

If the narrator reveals what is going on in all the characters' heads, the story is in omniscient viewpoint. This is, of course, the most subjective of all possible viewpoints. Omniscient viewpoint was extremely popular in the Victorian novel. The main concern of the Victorian novelist was society; it was thought best to have access to everyone's thoughts and motives in order to create a clear and total picture of society. Victorian novelists would often reveal the thoughts of any and all characters in a given scene in the following manner:

Henry arrived at two in the morning, feeling tired and numb (his interior state, his viewpoint). Kathryn greeted him at the door, thinking he looked like a drowned rat (her viewpoint). She showed him immediately into the library, where the old grandfather waited, pacing back and forth under the chandelier. He had been pacing there since noon, his stomach churning, his feeble mind in a terrible turmoil (the grandfather's interior state, his viewpoint).

The result was interesting and succeeded in giving the reader a powerful portrait of society and its workings, but, because of the constantly shifting viewpoint, the reader was not exposed to any character's viewpoint long enough to establish reader identification. The reader therefore lacked intimacy with these char acters. For this reason, very few novels are written today in omniscient viewpoint.

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