How are the narrators unreliable in Notes on a Scandal and The Great Gatsby?

The main factors that make the narrators of Notes on a Scandal and The Great Gatsby are that both are first-person narrators and involved in the events they relate. Another aspect of unreliability is that their versions of those events and attitudes toward the characters are the only ones available to the reader.

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The reasons that narrators in a literary work may be deemed unreliable are that they are not trustworthy because they are involved in the events they narrate, they show evident bias toward one or more of the other characters, and there is no way to corroborate their version of events...

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The reasons that narrators in a literary work may be deemed unreliable are that they are not trustworthy because they are involved in the events they narrate, they show evident bias toward one or more of the other characters, and there is no way to corroborate their version of events from the perspective of another character. Unreliable narrators are usually first-person narrators, which is the case for Barbara Covett in Notes on a Scandal and Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby.

Barbara Covett, who is a teacher, initially seems to be a concerned friend to a younger former teacher, Sheba Hart. They are temporarily living together. Sheba was dismissed from her post for having a sexual relationship with a teenage male student. As the novel progresses, however, the reader learns that Barbara is a controlling, manipulative person who derives voyeuristic satisfaction from hearing Sheba talk about her relationship with the boy. Barbara’s private thoughts are revealed through the journal she keeps. The reader gradually realizes that Barbara is obsessed with Sheba. Moreover, she had been instrumental in the school administration’s learning of the affair, which led to Sheba’s dismissal.

Nick Carraway presents himself as an honest person and emphasizes his position as an observer of events that primarily concerned the other characters: Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, George and Myrtle Wilson, and Jordan Baker. Nick is a cousin of Daisy, with whom his neighbor Jay has been in love for years. Although Nick tries to seem neutral, it becomes clear that he is fascinated with the wealthy, charismatic Gatsby and has a crush on Daisy’s friend Jordan. Nick also shows that he played a key role in facilitating an affair between Daisy and Jay. Although he seems critical of the immoral behavior of others, he helped his cousin cheat on her husband, which makes him seem hypocritical rather than honest.

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