Essay Topic: Discuss Point of View as a Technique and Theme in ‘Atonement’.

Topics: Narrative, Narrator, Narrative mode Pages: 5 (1732 words) Published: December 26, 2011
The use of varied points of view, known as , free indirect discourse, or variable internal focalisation, omniscient narration is used in fiction to create particular themes in such books as the 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan, Jane Austen and many other authors. Using these styles has been spoken of as heightened literary skills which delivers to the reader what the author desires to reveal of their characters. It is an advanced and old style that can be used to bring forth the many perceptions created by the writer. This essay will discuss how point of view is used as a technique and thereupon the theme of atonement within free indirect style, variable internal focalisation and omniscient narration ultimately narrated by an aging Briony. The origin

The origin of these multi-narrative styles dates back to pre-Jane Austen and also used in children’s literature 'which often needs to allow a child - or the child’s proxy, an animal -to see the world through limited eyes, while alerting the older reader to this limitation'. (Wood,11) For instance, Part One in the 'Atonement' uses different focal characters, multiple focalisation and free indirect discourse which enables McEwan to present perception. Point of view is constructed by using a varied style of author’s licence. For instance, Part One uses different focal characters, multiple focalisation and free indirect discourse which enables McEwan to represent perception and misperception. These points of view behave in such a way as to allow the characters moods, thoughts and perceptions be known to the reader. Features

A feature in 'Atonement' written by the elder Briony, is that she 'imagines that by telling her life story', it will act as atonement, but in reality ' she is psychoanalysing herself'. She (promises to atone in her book) but does not gain self-comprehension and the question remains: how can she get beyond, “the fact that these minds are, ultimately her own creation?” (Marcus, 1994) so in using the many narrative styles she hopes to absolve herself through reiterating her own viewpoint of childish thinking and still in fantasy land imagines she knows the thoughts of the people she used in her tragic lies. Childs (276 ) says, “ In McEwans work, childhood is a sleep from which everyone must awaken to face an adult world where their former actions will have unforeseen circumstances. Childhood is also a realm adult’s seek to control but to which they also seek to return”. Usefulness and purpose

The usefulness of using the many viewpoints and in simple terms reveals the internal dynamics of the character/s. Chapter two shifts to focalising the character of Cecilia, chapter three’s point of view slides to Briony, chapter four returns to Cecilia and chapter six to Emily Tallis. “The central consciousness belongs to a writer and, in Part One, to a thirteen-year-old girl.” (Hidalgo, 84) This is the typical device in free indirect discourse of telling the same story from varied viewpoints. Free indirect discourse

The purpose of free indirect discourse includes, “a more comprehensive method of representation -- one which many times makes indistinguishable the thoughts of the narrator and the thoughts of a character”. (Georgetown, 1) This blends the character’s dialogue as well as the narrator’s story. In particular, the narrative shifts and slides into Robbie’s mind; the pace slides into a poetry style of writing “A drop of water on her upper arm. Wet.” (McEwan,78-79) with many quick sentences and then returns into the long leisurely pace of narrative. Sliding into Robbie’s mind materialises the writer’s perceptions, how she thinks Robbie’s mind works. Candidate, (4) mentions “free indirect discourse is used to convey Briony’s” perceptions by subtly using “frequent modal verbs - ‘how could she refuse a cousin’ (McEwan,175) - and by sentence adverbials - ‘of course she was taking the part of Arabella’ (McEwan, 159).” Further going on to say, “sometimes,...
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