Passion & Desire, Othello by William Shakespeare, Perfume by Patrick Suskind & Atonement by Ian Mcewan

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Consider the themes of passion and desire in Atonement by Ian McEwan, Othello by William Shakespeare and Perfume by Patrick Süskind.

Fascinated by different passions and how people are driven by different passions, I am able to study this through different literature texts. The three characters I am going to study are ‘Briony’ in the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, first published in 2001, but set in 1934-1999, ‘Iago” in the play Othello by William Shakespeare, first viewed by an audience in 1604, and finally ‘Grenouille’ in the novel Perfume by Patrick Süskind, first published in 1985 and set in 18th century France. Since that all three texts are set in different times and by different writers, this will effect the opinion of both a modern audience and an audience of the time it was written.

Each character displays desires to control others around them, in ‘Othello’ and ‘Perfume’ to the extent of death for their passion. We see this desire to control in ‘Atonement’ with Briony almost as soon as we are introduced to her in the novel, “Her straight-backed dolls in their many roomed mansion appeared to be under strict instruction not to touch the walls” (P5.L6). This behaviour of Briony from a young age shows her desire to control others; everything around her is ordered and complete. The use of “straight-backed” in my opinion gives the reader a sense of fear of Briony knowing that she will always have control over not only the characters, but also you as the audience. I think that mansion could also be seen as a metaphor for her own house, thus reflecting her desire to control her family and the people who live with her. Briony’s desire to control people is a continuous and dominant theme throughout the book. In the final part, Briony admits to not having an alcoholic drink, “I drank green tea” (P355.L13). This tells the reader that even in her older age, she doesn’t want to lose control by getting drunk and missing out on vital information. On the other...
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