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O - objective point of view to oxymoron - English Literature Dictionary

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objective point of view: The narrator assumes the position of an observer, detached from the narrative.

occasional poem: poem which has been written to commemorate a special event or occasion.

octave: A stanza or section of verse, otherwise known as an octet, which contains eight lines. These eight lines generally have a rhythm or pattern.

octet: See octave.

ode: A relatively long, often intricate stanzaic poem of varying line lengths and sometimes intricate rhyme schemes, dealing with a solemn subject matter and considering it reverently.

OED: The standard abbreviation for The Oxford English Dictionary, which is an historical dictionary, and considered the most authoritative and scholarly dictionary of English. It attempts to record all words in usage in English with citations for when the word in that usage entered the language.

oedipal complex: Freud argued that male children, envious of sharing their mother's attention with a father-figure, would come to have an unconscious incestuous desire to murder their fathers and have sex with their mothers. In most healthy adults Freud argued this desire would be repressed.

O.Henry ending: A surprise ending to a short story, named after the American writer whose stories are characterised by a surprise or twist at the end.

Old English: Also known as Anglo-Saxon, Old English is the ancestor of Middle English and modern English. It is a Germanic language that was introduced to the British Isles by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes in a series of invasions in the fifth century, it is thus regarded as the language that existed between 449AD and 1066 (when the Norman Conquest occurred).

Old English Period: Also known as the Anglo-Saxon Period, the time frame this period falls in is debatable, however broadly speaking it is between the mid-fifth century and mid-twelfth century.

olfactory imagery: See imagery.

omniscient narrator: This is a narrator who is ‘all knowing’.  The omniscient narrator, often found in third person narratives, has a detailed and full knowledge of the story's events and characters, from every perspective.

one-act play: This type is now less popular than in the past. It was dramaperformed with no interval and was generally less than an hour long.

oneiromancy: Fortune-telling through dreams.

onomatopoeia: The application of sounds that are comparable to the noise they represent for an artistic effect. For instance, buzz, click, rattle, and grunt make sounds similar to the noise they represent.

open couplet: couplet in a poem where the idea is not complete by the end of the couplet or second line, instead the concept is carried over into the next lines. 

open stage: stage where the audience is not separated from those acting. This type of staging has become more popular recently.

opera: A powerful type of drama, where a majority of the words are solely sung.

oral literature : The custom of compiling and passing on narratives by word of mouth. Oral literature can often take the form of poetry or song. This mode of literature has long existed and still remains today in various societies. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is an example of this tradition.

oral tradition: See oral literature.

oration: speech given at a public occasion that is formal.

Orientalism: a term that refers to a fascination with the East, by the West. Orientalism grew out of the Renaissance and increased during the18th century. Romantics such as Coleridge often used orientalist imagery. The rise of orientalism naturally coincided with the escalation of the British Empire. Now the term often has pejorative connotations.

originality:  the employment of inventive or pioneering writing, whilst rejecting conventional or imitative writing. Originality can be in form or subject matter. In modern day literature originality appears to be more important than in the past.

original sin: A theological doctrine, stemming from the Bible, arguing that all humans at the moment of conception inherit collective responsibility and guilt for the sins of Adam and Eve, along with an innate tendency towards evil.

orthoepy: A study of how words are pronounced.

orthography: A study of how language utilises letters and accepted spelling.

other world, the: The realm of spirits or the dead.

Orwell, George: Originally named Eric Arthur Blair, George Orwell used a pseudonym for his published work. The English author and journalist was born in 1903 and died in 1950. His most renowned works include Nineteen Eighty-four and Animal Farm, both of which comment upon dictatorships. See science fiction and dystopia.

overgeneralisation: In linguistics, this refers to applying a rule to aspects of the language to which it does not apply. (An example of this is the adding of an 's' to make a plural form - 'cat' and 'cats' yet it is not a constant rule as it does not work with 'child').

oxymoron: The use of contradiction in a manner that oddly makes sense on a deeper level. For instance, "without laws, we can have no freedom". See paradoxor antithesis.


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