Atonement

Topics: Ian McEwan, Novel, Atonement Pages: 2 (806 words) Published: August 26, 2013
English studies essay: We are all haunted by the past. In his novel Atonement, how does Ian McEwan use the conventions of his text type to explore this idea? In his novel Atonement, Ian McEwan makes clear that we are all haunted by the past. McEwan conveys this through the characterisation of his protagonist, Briony Tallis, McEwan further reveals that we are all haunted by our past through the narrative structure of the epigraph and the coda and the triple narrative perspective of the fountain scene through the eyes of Cecilia, Briony and Robbie. In Atonement, Ian McEwan conveys that protagonist, Briony Tallis is haunted by her past. In Part One Briony is a naïve, innocent, lonely and a narcissistic thirteen year old girl who needs to make sense of the world. She is desperate to have the world “just so” and to achieve this she subordinates every observation and every experience to her fiction so that “she was able to build and shape her narrative in her own words”. This is most obvious in her telling and retelling of what she observes happening between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, “the only son of a humble cleaning lady” from “one of the nursery’s wide-opened windows”. Robbie stands “rather formal[ly]…feet apart, head held back” which Briony thinks should lead to “a proposal of marriage”. Instead, to her shock, it appears to Briony that Cecilia “remov[es] her clothes…at [Robbie’s] insistence” and this is the beginning of Briony’s labelling him as “a sex maniac” and ultimately and falsely accusing him of raping her cousin, Lola. This becomes “the crime” that, through proleptic ellipsis, McEwan reveals that the seventy-seven year old Briony has spent attempting to atone for by writing ‘Three Figures by a Fountain’ and, eventually, her novel Atonement. Since she is the "god-like” author, however “There is no one, no entity or higher form she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her” and therefore she can never forgive herself...
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