Unreliability of Narrators: The Boss, Prufrock, Nick Carraway

“The Boss” in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain

“The Boss” is chapter eight of Mark Twain's tale "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Yankee was referred to by this name in the novel. The work's body attempts to articulate numerous historical quandaries, and this chapter confirms that it made no literal sense. Twain's description of the work was untrustworthy since he seems to be defending "self-conscious fantasy". Creating fiction is to lie meaning he is exercising deception, for instance in the novel, the Yankee was a passionately self-reliant man, self-made and versatile unlike what Twain is portrayed in the story. In the middle of his narration, he narrates that “I was no shadow of a king; I was the substance; the king himself was the shadow. My power was colossal; and it was not a mere name, as such things have generally been, it was the genuine article. I stood here, at the very spring and source of the second great period of the world's history”, he acknowledges that Yankee was the most powerful man in the world and not the king.

That narration is a lie since it does not tell the truth as to how the king ruled. However, Twain puts the readers into mind play as he admits at the end of the chapter that Yankee likes and respects the king, he only looks down on him. Such kind of narration is unreliable since he says one word and uses a different word with the same meaning to make a point. For instance, he says that the Yankee respected the king as a king and ends by emphasizing that he only looked down on the king. To “look down” is the same as saying not respecting someone. In A Connecticut Yankee, Twain presents himself as an author who exercises omnipotence and believes that it is his inherent power that allows him to shamelessly indulge. He affirms this when he narrates that “Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine. I had mine, the king and his people had theirs”.

The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The poem is narrated by the T.S. Eliot. He is a true definition of an unreliable narrator since he does not speak and act in accordance with the regulations of the work. Eliot applies language and different literary techniques in an unsettling manner. In his narration, he falsely portrays something to be beautiful. Also, in the poem, he expresses the theme of “smoke” many times from the early stages. It becomes very boring to the readers because there is too much repetition. To make it worse he uses personification with the intention to increase the understanding of the audience. In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” the smoke is used to portray a cat might. Such an act affects the mood of the reader. Comparing a smoke to a cat intrudes how the audience feels of their homes. Further, Eliot gives the readers an unsettling feeling through his language as he makes the enablers of the disasters he mentions. In the first section of the poem, he mentions “Juliet’s tomb”, which brings the audience attention to the tragedy.

The Great Gatsby

“The Great Gatsby” is a story narrated by Nick Carraway who is criticized for being unreliable. In chapter 2, Nick seems to be intoxicated has he states going to a part at Mystles place and got drunk before the party officially started. Since he was drunk, his time at the party was ruined; however, the party went full swing. In his narration, he made it look like everyone at the party had a bad time. The reader gets the feeling that he is telling a lie; just because he got drunk before the party begun and ruined the rest of his time till the end does not mean that the other people also had such experience. Nick is as well biased in his narration, for example, he makes Gatsby’s death all about himself and this makes the audience understand the tragedy in only one perspective. He is the narrator and if he cannot enable the audience to develop varying perceptions of the story then he is unreliable. He is as well biased in the way he describes other narrators; for instance, in the first chapter, he portrays Tom in a negative manner. On the other hand, he tends to favor Gatsby over everyone. Nick solely focused on his feeling while narrating; he does not give the audience an accurate picture of the events that occurred.

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