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Unreliable Narrator

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Bethany Updike

on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of Unreliable Narrator

Convicted Felon
Would you trust me?
Unreliable Narraror
"TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story."
"The Tell-Tale Heart"
"An unreliable narrator however, is not simply a narrator who ‘does not tell the truth’ – what fictional narrator ever tells the literal truth? Rather an unreliable narrator is one who tells lies, conceals information, misjudges with respect to the narrative audience – that is, one whose statements are untrue not by the standards of the real world or of the authorial audience but by the standards of his own narrative audience."
Wayne Booth on Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Who do you trust?
The Picaro (a narrator who brags and exaggerates)
The Madman (a mentally unstable narrator)
The Naif (a naive or inexperienced narrator)
The Clown (a narrator who doesn't take narration seriously and intentionally plays with truth/expectations)
Types of Unreliable Narrator
What type of unreliable narrator it that?
1. What type of unreliable narrator is the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart"?
A. The Picaro
B. The Clown
C. The Naif
D. The Madman

2. The Picaro is an unreliable narrator that ________________________.
A. Is crazy
B. Exaggerates
C. Is young
D. Tells the truth

3. List three people who could be unreliable narrators and explain why each is unreliable.

Quiz Time!
Santa Claus
Police Officer
An unreliable narrator is exactly what it sounds like--a narrator you cannot trust.
You might know from the beginning.
It might be a plot twist at the end.
"I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever."
"No doubt I now grew very pale; --but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased --and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath --and yet the officers heard it not. "
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