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Waters: The Little Stranger

6. The Unreliable Narrator

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the trustworthiness of the seemingly authoritative narrator of the novel, Dr Faraday, focusing in particular on: (i) the ways in which Faraday constructs all the characters around him as increasingly unreliable, and diverts attention from himself; (ii) the insight into Faraday provided by Roderick’s outburst in chapter 6 (‘Why the hell are you here? How did you manage to get such a footing in this house?’); (iii) the importance of stairs in the novel, both in terms of the plot (e.g. Caroline’s death by falling over the banister of the main staircase) as well as their symbolic meaning in terms of class relations; and (iv) the question of whether Hundreds Hall is in fact haunted at all, or whether the whole thing has been made up by Faraday in order to achieve his goal of owning the house.


In this course, Professor Lucie Armitt (University of Lincoln) explores Sarah Waters’ 2009 novel, the Little Stranger. We begin by thinking about the novel as a haunted house narrative, focusing in particular on what, if anything, the house is actually haunted by. After that, we think about the social and political reforms that were at work in the mid- to late 1940s, the period in which the novel is set, and the ways in which the reflects on these changes, before turning in the third module to the representation of children in the novel. In the fourth module, we provide a close reading of the scene in chapter five in which Roderick encounters the ghost, before moving on in the fifth module to think about the representation of communications technology in the novel – particularly the telephone and the speaking tube. Finally, in the sixth module, we focus on the narrator of the novel, Dr Faraday: is he as trustworthy and impartial as he would like us to believe?


Lucie Armitt is a Professor in Contemporary English Literature at the University of Lincoln. She is a specialist in the fields of contemporary women’s writing, the literary fantastic and the Gothic. She is an Associate Editor of the award-winning OUP journal Contemporary Women’s Writing and founding Treasurer of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association.

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APA style

Armitt, L. (2019, October 07). Waters: The Little Stranger - The Unreliable Narrator [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Armitt, L. "Waters: The Little Stranger – The Unreliable Narrator." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Oct 2019,