Reliable/Unreliable Narrator Unit


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.



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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