The Quest For Atonement In Ian Mc Ewan's Atonement

1786 words - 7 pages

Ian McEwan illustrates a profound theme that builds details throughout the novel Atonement, the use of guilt and the quest for atonement are used with in the novel to convey the central dynamic aspect in the novel. McEwan constructs the emotion of guilt that is explored through the main character, Briony Tallis. The transition of child and entering the adult world, focus on the behavior and motivation of the young narrator Briony. Briony writes passages that entail her attempt to wash away her guilt as well find forgiveness for her sins. In which Briony ruined the lives and the happiness of her sister, Cecilia, and her lover Robbie. The reality of the events, attempts to achieve forgiveness for her actions. She is unable to understand the consequences of the actions as a child but grows to develop the understanding of the consequence with age. McEwan exemplifies an emotional novel that alters reality as he amplifies the creative acts of literature. In this essay I will be arguing that, the power of guilt prevents people from moving on from obstacles that hold them in the past.
McEwan embodies the guilt illustrated throughout the novel with the element of symbolic references: “how guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime” (162). The literature critic, Brain Finney expresses McEwan’s “fascination with evil or illicit behavior [that]…‘projected [a] sense of evil in [his] stories…one tires to imagine the worst thing possible in order to get hold of the good’” (69). McEwan makes the reference to a rosary, which is a religious symbol that corresponds to the novel’s title, suggesting Briony may not only carry her guilt forever, but that there is also a religious aspect involving literary critique Briony. In fact, Finney argues that the novel illustrates a sense of evil that is descriptive in the writing and behavior. He employs the idea of “self-consciousness” which is developed through McEwan’s writing (Finney 69). Both McEwan and Finney, demonstrate that religion is a component of the guilt displayed by the main character Briony. Each respective writer expresses religion in different aspects, as seen in McEwan’s writing Briony’s crime will not go unpunished.
Briony questions her ability to write as she sees her self as a “novelist [who achieves] atonement when, in with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God?” (McEwan 371). This suggests that Briony can be seen as a figure of God. Briony will not achieve atonement due to the fact that she has not remained the same individual through each aspect of her life, but rather looked upon as God. She is able to decide the fate of each character, and throughout the novel, at the end she is able to reveal it. It is remarked that Briony is stating that the meaning of being an author is to decide the fate of each character. Is it a question that McEwan employs the idea of God to resemble the fate of...

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