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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > October 2017 > Liar! Liar!

Liar! Liar!

Helen M Walters explores a classic unreliable narrator from the pen of Charles Dickens

In a previous masterclass we looked at different sorts of unreliable narrators, but this month I want to look at a very specific sort of unreliable narration. In Hunted Down by Charles Dickens, the first person narrator is very deliberately lying to both the reader and to other characters. As always, you will benefit most from the analysis if you read the story for yourself, at, and please be aware that my analysis contains spoilers.

Read the introductory paragraphs of the story very carefully. Whilst the action hasn’t got going at this stage, the narrator gives away a great deal about his approach to storytelling. Note that he tells us straight away that he is looking back on events that happened a long time ago and that he may see things in a different light now. Notice also how he compares the events to the unfolding of a play. Both these statements are indicative of the way the narrative will be dealt with.

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