Compare and Contrast American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and the Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro Focussing on the Topic of the Unreliable Narrator

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Compare and Contrast American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro focussing on the topic of the unreliable narrator

The unreliable narrator is a technique used by authors where a scenario is created in which the reader cannot trust the narration of the book usually done in the first person. In American psycho, Ellis explores the sinister nature of Wall Street yuppie culture by examining the sanity of the narrating protagonist Patrick Bateman using the unreliable narrator. Ishiguro also uses this, exploring ideas of regret and also self-justification in the character of Mr Stevens in The Remains of the Day. Unlike Ellis who examines Bateman during his early working years, in his mid-twenties and
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Jennifer Phillips describes this relationship between Bateman’s personas as his ‘mask of sanity’ he wears to cover his ‘growing dementia’.

In comparison the technique of the unreliable narrator is used in The Remains of the Day. Kazuo Ishiguro is no stranger to use of the technique and indeed in his novel: An Artist of the Floating World, the protagonist, Ono, a painter, says: ‘I cannot recall any colleague who could paint a self-portrait with absolute honesty’. Zuzana Fonikova indicates that this inability to paint a picture of oneself honestly comes from a personal desire to ‘hide the disgraceful facts and emphasise the positive traits’, which is where the source of Stevens’ unreliability in recalling events stems, what he did not see as ‘disgraceful’ by his own standards then, he consciously or subconsciously supresses: ‘It is possible this is a case of hindsight colouring my memory’. In a different way to American psycho, in which the reader is an observing witness to Patrick Bateman’s life and narrative, The Remains of the Day presents a series of flashbacks narrated by an elderly protagonist looking back on his life, linking both novels is the idea of preservation of image, Bateman’s; an image desperately trying to keep up culturally and socially while Stevens; an image of dignity.

‘Dignity’ is frequently referenced throughout the novel, certainly in both in Stevens’ present and past. The idea of

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