Reliable/Unreliable Narrator Unit

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What is an unreliable narrator?

  • a narrator that cannot be trusted due to several reasons or circumstances
  • the story is typically told in 1st person narration, but can be 3rd person as well

Why might a narrator be unreliable?

  • The narrator may tell lies
  • The narrator may have an agenda/bias
  • The narrator may be mentally unstable due to mental illness or trauma
  • The narrator may be simply ignorant of the facts
  • The narrator may have prejudices based on sex, race, or religion

Why would an author choose to implement an unreliable narrator?

  • To deceive the audience
  • Create suspense and mystery
  • Allow the reader to discover the true motives

While studying this approach to narration, I will be presenting two different authors to my students: Ambrose Bierce and the classically twisted Edgar Allan Poe.

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We will be reading Bierce’s An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge  and My Favorite Murder.  From Poe, we will study, The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart.

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