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Omnipotence and Atonement Throu Self-Reflective Narration

Omnipotence and Atonement Through Self-Reflective Narration

At first glance, Atonement is a war-torn love story of two star-crossed lovers and simultaneously the life-long struggle of a girl who feels she, and her lies, are responsible for keeping the couple apart. It is not until the end of the novel that readers are told Briony Tallis, the aforementioned young troubled girl, wrote the whole novel and changed the truths about the fates of the lovers, Robbie and Cecilia. This revelation highlights the power of writers and their freedom to convey the truth or lies to readers. Briony utilizes her power as a writer to construct her whole life’s work to embody both lies to appease reader interest. Ultimately, the novel is meant to expose the ugly truth of the story’s origins and pay homage to the ill-fated lovers and allow Briony to redeem herself. Atonement emphasizes the control of writers in reader-writer relationships and Briony’s attempt redemption for her juvenile lies through themes of purity, shame, and penitence.

McEwan enriches themes of guilt and her pursuit for forgiveness through structured changes in time and Briony’s emotional responses. Briony Tallis grows up virtually an only child because she had followed years behind her older sister, Cecilia, and brother, Leon. The narration describes her birth as a difficult experience, leaving her mother ill and unavailable at most times, a majority of Briony’s life. She grows up with fictional literature and the desire to become a writer. Through over exposure to time occupying herself alone and reading of fictional works, Briony developed her own fictional world and view of life apart from reality around her. Her compulsion to control everything, perfection, and being...

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...ugh frequent flashes of her memories and the resultant emotions, McEwan augments Briony’s principal efforts for atonement, thus also developing themes of virtue, remorse, and atonement.

Works Cited

Behrman, Mary. "The Waiting Game: Medieval Allusions and the Lethal Nature of Passivity in Ian McEwan's Atonement." Studies in the Novel 42.4 (2010): 453-70. Print.

Finney, Brian. "Briony's Stand Against Oblivion: The Making of Fiction in Ian McEwan's Atonement." Journal of Modern Literature 27.3 (2004): 69-82. Print.

Mathews, Peters. "The Impression of a Deeper Darkness: Ian McEwan's Atonement." English Studies in Canada 32.1 (2006): 147-60. Print.

McEwan, Ian. Atonement. London:Vintage, 2002. Print.

O'Hara, David K. "Briony's Being-for: Metafictional Narrative Ethics in Ian McEwan's Atonement." Critique 52.1 (2011): 74-100. Print.

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