• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Judging Lines Between Reality and Imagination in Atonement by Ian McEwan

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Judging Lines Between Reality and Imagination in Atonement by Ian McEwan As I read Atonement, by Ian McEwan, on the beach in Long Beach Island I was confronted with a somewhat new style of writing that I did not recognize. The splitting of the novel into three main parts only made sense to me after I had finished it; the account of the crime that took place at the Tallis household, Robbie Turner's adventures at war, and Briony's tales as a nurse were all connected and ended up "coming together" much more smoothly than I had anticipated. The characters Briony, Robbie, Cecilia, and Lola are all faced with very different problems which all have the same fundamental root: the attacks on Lola and the "attack" on Cecilia. Briony is only 13 when the novel begins. She is desperate for attention and lives in her own, dramatic world through writing. "Nothing in her life was sufficiently interesting or shameful to merit hiding; no one knew about the squirrel's skull beneath her bed, but no one wanted to know" (5). Briony's need for attention is not helped by the fact that her mother is usually unavailable due to acute migraines. ...read more.

Middle

Briony is disgusted by what the letter contains. "With the letter, something elemental, brutal, perhaps even criminal had been introduced, some principle of darkness, and even in her excitement over the possibilities, she did not doubt that her sister was in some way threatened and would need her help" (106). Briony is clearly deeply affected by the contents of this letter. "That the word had been written by a man confessing to an image in his mind, confiding a lonely preoccupation, disgusted her profoundly" (107). Briony felt there was "danger contained by such crudity" and that it "threatened the order of their household" (107). This leap from crudity to evil that Briony makes in her head is a sign of her ignorance to adult feelings. After reading the letter, Briony speaks to Lola about it. Lola labels Robbie a "maniac." "A maniac. The word had refinement, and the weight of a medical diagnosis" (112). Her ignorance is proved even further when she walks in on Robbie and Cecilia in the library. Her confusion, as a child, is understandable, however. She misinterprets the situation to be an attack rather than an encounter of lovers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Briony was a very confusing character because she had a tough time judging the difference between reality and imagination at her premature age. She was conniving towards Robbie and I felt as though she was trying to make her life dramatic in hopes of creating a better story. Most of the issues presented in this novel were not even solved by the end of the book. Robbie was not rid of blame, Briony could not undo her mistakes from the past, and Lola ended up marrying her rapist. That is probably one of the reasons that it was such a frustrating novel to me; everything was made just so that it could not be fixed. I felt at times that the title of, "Atonement," was a poor choice because I did not think that this book ended up fixing a wrongdoing. However while writing this journal one thing proved me wrong, fixing something. Briony started the novel as a character that felt homesick at times when dealing with the real world, and found refuge in her imagination. This led her to sometimes lose the distinction between fantasy and reality. But by the end of Atonement Briony realized that there were strict lines between actuality and imagination, and that when that line is blurred the results can be disastrous. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Ian McEwan section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Ian McEwan essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

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

    3 star(s)

    In her naivet´┐Ż she interprets this as an assault by Robbie on her sister. Suddenly the real world was more mysterious and fascinating than her fantasies. Speaking later - as a famous 77 year old author - Briony claimed that this was "the moment when she became recognisably herself" and realized how easy it is to "get everything wrong."

  2. Peer reviewed

    Consider the significances of innocence in Part One of Atonement.

    4 star(s)

    This overdramatic aspect of Briony's narrative is key to Part One: the reader is left helpless and lacking a truthful account of events as Briony's narrative shies away from the severity of her lie. As a result, the reader cannot sympathise fully for Robbie and Cecelia as Briony's perspective is

  1. Peer reviewed

    Analysis of the opening chapter of 'Atonement'

    4 star(s)

    This ignorance of her husband's whereabouts is Emily's attempt at avoiding conflict and her way of making her marriage appear normal and happy. Emily is the character in the novel most preoccupied with society and the appearance of normality.

  2. Peer reviewed

    English Literature - Atonement (Essay 2)

    4 star(s)

    substantially manufactured, most probably in Briony's drive to find a 'scapegoat' through regret, and remorse for her sister. Wouldn't this, then, determine Marshall as a moral 'victim', and Briony's guilt as a corrupt, 'villainous' trait, incapable of passing judgement? Throughout the novel McEwan, to an extent, discredits 'heroism' by associating it with downfall.

  1. Peer reviewed

    English Literature - Atonement (Essay 1)

    3 star(s)

    It hints that she believes she has completed a stage in her strive for maturity. She has enforced her intentions on the real world as well as the world of authorship, granting her a glimpse into adulthood. Brian Finney asserts that McEwan "remains fascinated with the forbidden and the taboo, which he continues to describe with non-judgmental precision"9.

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

    McEwan setting helps the characters hide their true feelings from each other causing further miscommunication of the situation. McEwan uses the seating of characters by Emily Tallis to show her views of the other characters. The seating of Leon nearest child to her shows the closeness of the relationship and even a rank of favouritism in her children.

  1. Essay Plan - The Theme of Social Class in Atonement.

    it was unthinkable that the millionaire upper class Paul Marshall would be capable of such a thing. 3. They are so blinded by prejudice assumptions that they ignore the scratches both on Lola and Paul?s face. 4. Emily says : ?There had been something maniac and glazed in his look.? 5.

  2. What view would a feminist critic take on "Enduring Love" by Ian McEwan?

    Joe further exacerbates this by adding ?already? evoking the sense that she is too emotional and provides the binary oppositions of logic and emotion so commonly placed to men and women. Peter Childs argues that the chapter is ?best read as a further example of Joe trying to deal with

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work