The Perceived Reliability of (Female) Narrators in Psychological Thrillers
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This thesis explores techniques used in the field of creative writing to influence the reader’s perception of the narrator’s reliability. This thesis argues that the perceived reliability of the narrator is created in an interaction between the author, text, and reader, rather than being inherent to the narrator’s characteristics. This is demonstrated through the close readings of the novels The Girl on The Train, Elizabeth is Missing, and Gone Girl, which demonstrate that social subjects such as gender, age and schemas are of influence on the way the reader interprets the reliability of the narrator. Additionally, narrative structures such as the first-person point of view and the epistolary form also influence the perceived reliability of the narrator. This thesis looks at why the reader’s perception of the narrator’s reliability is important in the genre of the psychological thriller. In the three novels that are discussed in the thesis, the reliability of the narrators is perceived for what it is not, which means that the narrator is either trusted by the reader when in fact they are untruthful, or that the reader is distrusted by the reader when they are actually speaking the truth. When the reader finds out their perception of the narrator was wrong, this creates a plot twist, which adds to the shock and suspense that forms the thriller.