Monday, November 7, 2011
Booth. Unreliable Narrators
So last year I read novel, it's called the Woman in White by Willkie Collins, and I think that the narrator would certainly qualify as unreliable. Booth defines a reliable narrator as one who "speaks or acts in accordance with the norms of the work". There are actually a few narrators in this novel, but the one I am thinking of is "Walter Hartright". His name is in quotations because at the end you find out that that isn't his name at all. The novel from the very beginning is presented as something that could hold up in the court of law, implying both it's utter truth and its direct experience by the narrator. Walter says, "he will describe them [plot events] in his own person. When experience fails, he will retire from the position of narrator..." However by the end of the novel the plot has deteriorated to a tidy mafia style ending (I won't ruin it completely) and the reader finding out that Walter (or whatever his name is) gave himself the name "Hart-Right". Which calls into question his motives for narrating and also his character. This whole time he has had the reader under the impression that he can't do any wrong doing, just to find out he's kind of a liar as the novel concludes. I leaves the reader wondering "what else was a lie?"