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How does the reliability of the narrator, and they style they use, affect the way the reader responds to the narrator and the novel? Discuss in relation to Wuthering Heights and Catcher In The Rye.

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How does the reliability of the narrator, and they style they use, affect the way the reader responds to the narrator and the novel? Discuss in relation to Wuthering Heights and Catcher In The Rye. The reliability of the narrators in both Wuthering Heights and Catcher In The Rye are vital to the way we respond to the novels, and they style they use is also equally important. In this essay I will outline exactly how the narrators style and reliability affect the readers perceptions. The Catcher In The Rye is a modern 1950's American novel, narrated entirely by the main character Holden Cauldfield. Throughout the book we see the world exactly how he does, journeying through his thoughts and feelings. Wuthering Heights however was published in 1847 and has multiple narrators throughout. The main narrators in Wuthering Heights are not the main characters in the story that is being told, a fundamental difference between the two books. Theese differences affect our perceptions of the narrators and the story. It would be easy to read through both books and take everything that is said at face value and accept everything as truth, but that is not what either J.D.Salinger or Emily Bronte were intending. They wanted the readers to think twice about what is being said in order to add more depth and thought into the novels. ...read more.


In Wuthering Heights, Bronte has no need to draw reader and narrator close together. In fact, she needs to do the opposite, keep the two at a distance so that we do not over trust what is being said, and ceoncentrate more fully on the story than the character of the narrator. The second, and main narrator, Nelly Dean, is, due to Lockwoods unreliability not trusted at first. We are very aware that she also may not be wholly reliable. She is clearly biased and has strong feelings towards certain characters in the book. When Nelly dean presents somebody in a bad light, the reader must remain aware that it does not necessarily mean that they are, and vice versa when she likes a character. The reader has to remain distanced from her so as not to take her opinions as fact and keep in their mind that the tale is being told by a human with feelings and emotions. Theese feelings and emotions complicate the story more. We also question Nellys trustworthiness when at various points in the stories she divulges peoples secrets. There are times when Nelly relies on other people's information for her story, which simply makes us question her reliability even further. Nelly is not an omnicsient narrator, and the reader must remember this at all times in order to see things in a more balanced, less biased way and so that we can draw our own concluisions about events and people. ...read more.


This focus and lack of friendly tone ensure that the reader remembers that this is a story about two families and not about Nelly. The reliability of the narrators and they styles they use affect the way the reader responds to them greatly. Nelly is not supposed to be the focus of the novel, however Holden is. Nelly is just a vehicle, something we need to remain constantly aware of throughout the novel. Bronte keeps reminding the reader that she is not omniscient and that she is human and therefore hold bias towards certain people. The unreliability creates a distance between narrator and reader which is key to the understanding of the story. We need this distance to judge for ourselves the events of the novel and to draw our own conclusions. Catcher In The Rye is very different. Closeness to the narrator is key, his unreliability bring us closer to him and allow us an insight into his mind and thoughts, as does his expressive style. His phoneticism and personal tone make Holden more accsessible to the reader, somthing Salinger intended for. The most important factor to remember when assesing how the narrator affects the story is to remember that Wuthering Heights is not about the narrators, it is about two families and their story, however Catcher In The Rye is a novel about the narrator Holden. Both authours use unreliability and style in a narrator to different ends, but both purposeley for a deeper understanding of their novels. ...read more.

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