Atonement -Female Disempowerment

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In their reflection on the past modern writers present the experiences of a woman as one of disempowerment. To what extent do you agree with this proposition?
Angela Holdsworth foregrounds the changed position of women in her book 'Out of the Doll's House' where 'women are no longer content to endure the treatment which in past times their inferior position obliged them to suffer.’ The use of obliged suggests how passively women had to accept their lower role under men and how they were unable to break out of convention due to stagnant male attitudes and values. However it is clear in both novels that strong forces of dis-empowerment are at work for both men and women. This results in many being trapped within their gender’s crippling …show more content…

It is also interesting that earlier in the novel, Cecilia talks about getting a ‘job’ rather than how Robbie puts it as a change in ‘career’.

McEwan foregrounds a contrast between the expectations of a daughter and that of a son, through Leon. The forefront of their mother's concern is not on her son’s future but on her daughters’ despite the significant age gap. However Briony's overpowering narration holds a strong opinion about her brother's antics: 'guide him away from his careless succession of girlfriends, towards the right form of wife'.

Her view here almost obliterates all other views of Leon as we are not given an insight into his psyche as we are the other characters in the novel. This is interesting as we are given a fairly empowered external image of him, except for this comment by the narrator. The use of 'careless succession' has connotations of cheap love and portrays Leon as a womanizer, 'living in a period of jubilation and ease between the two wars in Europe, Leon enjoys the freedoms and carelessness of his social predicaments.' This shows clear double standard as Cecilia is not given any background of boyfriends at all, only prospective husbands. Briony's controlling narration is shown by McEwan once more by her will to control even her

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