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AS and A Level: Ian McEwan

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 2
  • Peer Reviewed essays 5
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    An essay that examines whether Briony ever achieves atonement in 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan

    3 star(s)

    At the beginning of the novel Briony is a girl of thirteen her mind filled with romantic stories containing morally certain scenarios; she views the world around her through the same filters and is over-confident in her ability to judge events. When she observes a strange interaction between her sister, Cecilia, and Robbie, the cleaning lady's son, she misinterprets the situation as threatening for her sister. This impression is reinforced when she later interrupts them in the secluded library having an amorous embrace, which she construes as an assault.

    • Word count: 2142
  2. Peer reviewed

    Consider the significances of innocence in Part One of Atonement.

    4 star(s)

    However, the trust surrounded with the nursery is broken as he sees 'that the girl was almost a young woman' whilst 'watching her closely'. The reader are led to believe by McEwan that Paul Marshall is caressing Lola, and the description of her 'unblemished incisors' highlights this innocence. Through this, McEwan builds sympathy for Lola as the reader begin to question her ability to notice Paul's intentions. It could be argued that this innocence is a facade: as Lola is first assaulted, McEwan has her 'seeming to bite' down a sob, highlighting her ability to appear vulnerable as she simply wants pity from Briony.

    • Word count: 1177
  3. Peer reviewed

    Analysis of the opening chapter of 'Atonement'

    4 star(s)

    Up until this point Briony has lived a relatively protected life, away from the conflict of the outside world, giving Briony a sheltered view on life and relationships. This sheltered view of relationships is shown in this chapter through the characters of her play 'The Trials of Arabella' in which the heroine marries her "medical prince on a 'windy sunlit day in spring.'" To Briony the reality of some relationships, being conflict, heartbreak and possibly divorce, "belonged in the realm of disorder", lost to the idea of a wedding and "a dizzy lifelong union."

    • Word count: 1267
  4. Peer reviewed

    English Literature - Atonement (Essay 2)

    4 star(s)

    you', and her later struggle with remorse - is painfully strong"3, encouraging the idea that she can be considered both a victim and villain in tandem. Select 'villainous' vices of Briony - predominantly naivety - are ultimately responsible for Robbie's downfall. Contrarily, Briony assumes some distinctly 'heroic' roles throughout the novel; most noteworthy, her nursing occupation and the 'redeeming' atonement. Her 'villainous' temperament is inadvertent (and nonetheless a literary construction) that affects both her and the other characters in the novel.

    • Word count: 1798
  5. Peer reviewed

    How does McEwan capture a sense of desperation in Part 2 of 'Atonement'?

    4 star(s)

    nature of her error, and she greatly wishes to reverse her actions and Part 2 follows her crime's repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II. The emotional trauma of the war and the wounded is developed in a manner that allows us to feel the anguish and despair of those fighting for their country. We feel the futility of war and the assault on the physical and emotional fronts of Robbie, Cecilia and even Briony. The gory intricacies of war which Robbie is experiencing are emphasised by his constant flashbacks to a golden past; where on that oppressively sweltering night, in the library, he and Cecilia awakened their sexual awareness and the vagaries of maturity.

    • Word count: 1013
  6. Peer reviewed

    English Literature - Atonement (Essay 1)

    3 star(s)

    The paradox is that while Briony is attempting to pursue adulthood and convince herself of her maturity - "the day had proved to her that she was not a child"3 - she "had to prove herself worthy of it"4, accordingly reverting to a juvenile mindset. This absurd attitude is put into practice during her encounter with Lola Quincey (pages 118-19). The passage exposes the "controlling demon"5 that governs Briony's behaviour; the transition between the child and adult world being presented by McEwan as one of malevolence and possibly even antagonistic drive.

    • Word count: 1759
  7. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan essay. Compare the narrative of Appendix 1 with Appendix 2.

    It explains the science behind Jed's condition creating sympathy for him which the reader had not held when Parry's victim was narrating. The opening line of Appendix 1; 'Reprinted from the British Review of Psychiatry', immediately informs the reader of the form. 'British Review of Psychiatry' indicates to the reader that what they are about to read is a review on a particular subject and sets the reader for clear information on the syndrome. By portraying the key information about Parry's condition in a report format leaves a lasting effect on the audience and bring McEwan's story to life.

    • Word count: 1219
  8. Judging Lines Between Reality and Imagination in Atonement by Ian McEwan

    She does not have the constant love and attention of a mother and both her siblings are grown up and lead their own lives. This leaves Briony as somewhat of an only child and certainly fuels her love for writing and creating her own fantasy worlds. Briony is "one of those children possessed by a desire to have the world just so" (4). She is an innocent pre-adolescent which later creates a huge catastrophe in the lives of Robbie Turner, her long-time family friend, and Cecilia Tallis, her sister.

    • Word count: 1546
  9. Although the Sexual Act May seem Private & Personal, in this novel, McEwan shows it is anything but. Discuss.

    " '...Like Mozart at the Wigmore Hall' She stopped abruptly. She had not meant to talk her musical ambitions, she believed it was a mistake". This shows that, whilst talking about having a sex - free, but open marriage, Florence cannot help but change the subject to her musical talent, because she feels awkward talking about such a thing. McEwan does this to show the difficulty of communication, especially at the beginning of the sixties, by contrasting the very modern idea of non-marital sex ('free love') with very old, classical music.

    • Word count: 941
  10. Discuss how McEwan uses the setting in part one of "Atonement".

    A reason for Cecilia's pessimistic description could be her frustration of being kept here and frustrated about her own laziness to make something of her life as she has just left university with and poor grade and no degree. Cilicia also views that if the unpleasant features where ignored 'the view was fine enough', McEwan may has used this to communicate Cecilia is trying to avoid obstacles in her life. Some of the obstacles is procrastinating in her life such as a childhood friend Robbie, it says that she 'avoided Robbie by hurrying round to the front of the house' this communicates nervousness around this character and foreshadows that she is avoiding confrontations of her new feels from him.

    • Word count: 2393
  11. Discuss the usefulness of Dover beach as a key to understanding McEwans aims in Saturday

    References to the past ("Sophocles long ago/Heard it on the �g�an") imply that Arnold feel that this 'eternal note of sadness' has been a long time coming. The overall tone of the poem is similar to that of W. H. Auden's "September 1, 1939": it offers hope to the reader, the possibility of salvation, but it is awash with negativity at the state of affairs, and uncertain about the future of the world. These ideas resonate strongly throughout 'Saturday'. The final scene of the novel shows Perowne staring contemplatively from his window, "timid" and "vulnerable", and then retreating to the

    • Word count: 772
  12. In this passage of Saturday, McEwan employs techniques which are the hallmarks of his prose. Closer examination of this short passage allows for greater understanding of his writing style.

    This partnership between Perowne consciousness and the omniscient narrator is the way in which McEwan presents Perowne's views. The omniscient narrator picks up on external details with relative objectivity, and these observations are then tempered by Perowne's viewpoint. His views on the world are revealed through his interactions throughout the day, with these interactions being described by the narrator. In this way, this section of the novel is less focused on the plot. Instead, it is a collection of Perowne's thoughts, which allow the reader to develop a clearer profile of Perowne's character.

    • Word count: 904
  13. Enduring Love

    The narrator stops at the most crucial point in the story keeping the reader on edge. Another technique that the author uses is to touch on a point but not expand on it in great detail tempting the reader to read on. When the author does this it gives the reader a taste of what is to come and engages the reader in the story. It is important in a story to always give clues as to what is going to happen next so that the reader is able to use their imagination to engage themselves in the story.

    • Word count: 1290
  14. Enduring Love: Chapter 12

    We see a mind filled with anxiety and paranoia as Joe begins to relive the morning in retrospect. McEwan divulges into Joe and Clarissa's relationship where cracks seem evident. Joe speaking in first person says 'she seemed to agree', 'seemed because she was not quite whole-hearted'. The repetition of 'seemed' emphasises this uncertainty and their disconnected relationship. Joe is fast to make assumptions without any indication from Clarissa. Joe harbours doubt and Clarissa returns this doubt as she makes a suspicious statement against Joe that 'His [Parrys] writing's rather like yours.' And when Joe attempts to build his argument, Clarissa responses with a less than enthusiastic response: 'Yes'.

    • Word count: 951
  15. Free essay

    How does McEwan use dialogue and other stylistic techniques to show the attitude of other characters to Joes relationship with Jed?

    This attitude is continued with "his tiny grey eyes brushed past mine". It shows us how Linley is not interested in engaging with Joe. Also the use of interrogatives in places shows us the further detachment from the subject. He uses these to pull from Joe the relevant information, such as "How did you meet?" Questions like this are fired at Joe constantly, showing how Linley is used to questioning people like this and is disinterested in the answers given. The sentence "You're being harassed and threatened by this character" put forward by Linley portrays his attitude.

    • Word count: 544
  16. Representation of speech

    We know from these words, that Jed is going to become obsessed with Joe further in the novel, and we can see Joe's reaction towards this. At the beginning of the conversation in chapter two, Jed approaches Joe asking him "are you alright?" an immediate attempt at controlling the conversation. Joe does not reply to Jed showing the disinterest Joe has in engaging in conversation with Jed. "My silence was hostile". It becomes apparent as you read, that Joe is the less confident speaker, even though he seems to be the most educated shown through the use of first person narrative, which gives an insight into his analytical and rational mind.

    • Word count: 661
  17. Enduring Love

    It shows his uncertainty and makes it clear that he is emotionally out of touch. The inability to express himself adequately stems from his rational mind controlling his actions. Joe takes comfort in science and this can be seen by the number of science related statements found in this small passage alone. An example of this is 'mental-visceral' and 'diminishing pendulum movement'. His feelings are exact, and he takes comfort in accuracies and specifics. His whole emotional experience is a paradox, he is clearly distraught and confused yet his style is still controlled while still unpredictable.

    • Word count: 1093
  18. What techniques has McEwan used to make his opening striking in "Enduring Love"?

    Through the use of metanarrative, McEwan refers specifically to time, "This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map", whereby the imagery of time being diagrammatically plotted allows the reader to conjure thoughts of before and after the event as well as during; whereby the change in events are linked together, giving the 'story' a chronology, yet still depicting the way Joe cannot see an overview of proceedings at the present time. Gaps within Joe's thought process are described, as if they are merely a memory, "saw the danger.

    • Word count: 1311
  19. Enduring Love gracefully bridges genres; it(TM)s a psychological thriller, a meditation on the narrative impulse, a novel of ideas. How far and in what ways do you agree with this view?

    In chapter 9 there is both a sense of romance and detective story genres present. Though it is in 3rd person it centrally portrays a relationship between Joe and Clarissa (typically romance), however, it is delivered in a report-like way as if it was the findings of an investigation, or as if it was the commentary of an observation (Detective story). This is showing that Enduring Love is consistently, and successfully, bridging genres. It is arguable that at the centre of the novel is a relationship.

    • Word count: 1267
  20. Enduring love

    Giving the reader specific details, 'turkey oak', he is very observative of his surroundings. The genre of this novel from the beginning seems like a thriller, the way it is building up to discuss an event, 'this was the pinprick on the time map'. Yet, has elements of romance within him and his wife, 'the ways our love was different from and superior to any that had ever existed'.

    • Word count: 526
  21. How does Ian McEwan engage the interest of the reader in Chapter 1 of Enduring Love?

    When we read of the "child's cry" our sympathy is provoked, certainly more with a "man's shout" alone, and from this point we are completely hooked to the book, concerned of the consequences of the accident on both the child and man. In addition to this, although the ballooning accident itself engages our interest, the structural manner in which the story is told also plays a huge role; rather than disclosing what the "danger" was from the start McEwan gradually reveals it by shifting to events both before and after the accident.

    • Word count: 974
  22. Examine the relationship between Jed and Joe as it develops through the course of the novel.

    With retrospect, Joe claims it is now "odd to evoke the figure of Jed..." which confirms that from his first meeting an uneasiness had already developed in his mind and that the relationship between him and Jed was one doomed to failure. The extent of Jed's delusional belief in a romantic relationship existing between himself and Joe is fully established at the very end of chapter three - structurally placed at the end to give the most emphasis. Jed calls Joe at 2AM in the morning and says "I just wanted you to know, I understand what you're feeling.

    • Word count: 899
  23. How effective is the opening of ''Enduring Love'' as an introduction to the novel?

    Further consideration of this point indicates that the narrator considers himself to have gone through significant, permanent changes as a result of the events which he so eagerly ran towards, as shown by his observation that 'the transformation was absolute'. The writer also hints at the reason why the protagonist is so eager to assist in what appears to be a serious problem: 'a child's cry, enfeebled by the wind that roared in the tall trees along the hedgerows'. The connotations of innocence and helplessness created by the 'child's cry' are further accentuated by the futility of the child's cry being 'enfeebled' by the forces of nature which, the reader learns, are responsible for the predicament.

    • Word count: 1103
  24. Does Ian McEwan succeed in creating rounded, plausible characters in the novel Enduring Love?

    This is one of McEwan's best reviews from the BBC yet for the film adaptation. McEwan introduces the narrator Joe, as a rational, scientific mind who appears to be a rather simplistic character representing a stereotypical science geek. However, as the novel unfolds, we see signs of paranoia and irrational behaviour coming from Joe, suggesting he is more rounded and has different sides to his personality that slowly become apparent when reading Enduring Love. I find Joe to be a plausible character from beginning to end, however towards the end when he begins to severely break down, it seems almost over the top and not plausible.

    • Word count: 810
  25. Analysing an Extract From "Enduring Love" by Ian McEwan

    All of these segments of the opening will eventually leave out who this man actually is, what the "danger" actually is and therefore, what he's running to. McEwan uses repetition in the extract in order to illustrate a sense of mystery and re-enforce the importance of this particular moment to the reader. In the first line McEwan shows the reader that "this was the moment; this was the pinprick on the time map." This phrase makes the reader feel as if something important and significant is about to happen.

    • Word count: 936

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Compare two passages of your choice explaining what they reveal of McEwen's reoccurring themes and concerns?

    "In conclusion I would have to say that Ian McEwen does use a lot of the same themes and techniques in his writing and varies the amount he uses them in each story e.g. in the story where he uses a lot of science imagery there is a less religious imagery and also the opposite where there was more religious imagery McEwen added less science. Techniques like using short sentences and lots of punctuation was used to raise tension and anticipation in both extracts as well as in Enduring Love."

  • Discuss how McEwan uses the setting in part one of "Atonement".

    "The setting used in part one was used constructively to build depth into the novel. I find the use of setting makes it very much a more interesting read as I can see more depth into the story every time I read it. There are parts about the set which I didn't realise meant anything until I had re-read and studied the book. McEwan use of the setting makes the significance of the events more meaningful. As all the events that happen are set in a symbolic to that situation and the setting mirrors the meanings of the characters and the events."

  • Enduring Love by Ian McEwan essay. Compare the narrative of Appendix 1 with Appendix 2.

    "Appendix 1 is written in a report form, McEwan has chosen this aspect of narrative to take on a role of a report for a psychiatric journal, in this case Jed Parry. This choice of narrative technique reflects McEwan's character as Joe is a science writer and this report is in a logical format. It explains the science behind Jed's condition creating sympathy for him which the reader had not held when Parry's victim was narrating. The opening line of Appendix 1; 'Reprinted from the British Review of Psychiatry', immediately informs the reader of the form. 'British Review of Psychiatry' indicates to the reader that what they are about to read is a review on a particular subject and sets the reader for clear information on the syndrome. By portraying the key information about Parry's condition in a report format leaves a lasting effect on the audience and bring McEwan's story to life. Appendix 1 is structured as a typical report and is set into five categories; 'Introduction, Case History, Discussion, Conclusion and"

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