Unreliable narrator

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An unreliable narrator works under the constraints of limited knowledge to convey information that may seem justifiably suspect to the reader.



The opposite of a reliable narrator, an unreliable narrator typically displays characteristics or tendencies that indicate a lack of credibility or understanding of the story. Whether due to age, mental disability or personal involvement, an unreliable narrator provides the reader with either incomplete or inaccurate information as a result of these conditions. Lack of alignment with the "tastes, judgements, [and] moral sense" (Prince 103) of the implied author is a determining factor in a narrator's unreliability. Most notably done by William Faulkner in his novels, the use of a main character with a mental disability or a skewed perspective is indicative of unreliability as well as the under-developed perspective of a child narrator.


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Critical Debates

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Related Terms

reliable narrator


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