How Is Briony Presented In Atonement

Decent Essays

Writers use characterisation to purposely construct characters to convey ideas to a reader. In “Atonement” Ian McEwan uses his expertly constructed characters such as Paul Marshall to represent the injustices of a social class system which gives privilege to one class over another. As the title suggests McEwan also plays with the idea of guilt and atonement, the main protagonist and antagonist Briony Tallis is the most complex example of this. The use of Guilt and atonement is perhaps the main theme in “Atonement” and McEwan uses Briony’s character as a vessel to portray this. He uses these characterisation as a powerful tool to portray his ideas presented in “Atonement”. In “Atonement” Ian McEwan examines the issues of guilt and atonement …show more content…

She has a “controlling demon” that causes her to live in a fantasy world. McEwan uses Briony as a writer to construct his ideas about how throughout her writing, Briony develops a sense of atonement. In a final section, set in 1999, the aging Briony, now a successful novelist, learns that she is developing progressive vascular dementia. In this last part of the book Briony states her ability to remember and grasp reality will desert her, and she “will have lost the ability to comprehend anything at all”. But she has finished writing her latest version of Robbie and Cecilia's story, the story readers read in the first part of the novel, “Two Figures by a Fountain”, and can rest. Briony’s attempted atonement is found through her writing by giving the lovers Robbie and Cecilia a happy ending. “I like to think that it isn’t weakness or evasion, but a final act of kindness, a stand against oblivion and despair, to let my lovers live and to unite them at the end.” Here McEwan has used a first person narrative voice to reiterate how personal this atonement of giving the lovers a happy ending is to Briony herself as a writer and also to McEwan’s ideas of atonement as a writer. McEwan uses symbolism to do this by using the happy ending of “Two Figures by a Fountain” as a symbol of Briony’s atonement. McEwan uses Briony as a writer as a main vessel to portray his memorable ideas of guilt and atonement throughout the

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