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The chaos in Part 2 of Atonement is matched by the chaos in The Crucible. Discuss.

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Introduction

The chaos in Part 2 of ?Atonement? is matched by the chaos in ?The Crucible? McEwan?s ?Atonement? throws its narration into an abject state of confusion in Part Two, with Robbie facing the horrible images of war which repeatedly return in his state of consciousness as menacing flashbacks; history has once again repeated itself in the destruction of French society as he makes his way towards Dunkirk, while the citizens of Salem in ?The Crucible? experience the terrible murders and descent into chaos at the whim of Abigail and the breakdown of order within society. Little is left to imagination in the opening of Part Two within ?Atonement?, as McEwan assumes the narrative role of Robbie in the midst of confusion and the reader is immediately thrust into a situation where there ?were horrors enough?, with worse to come as he examines the destruction of a household as he notes ?The scraps of cloth?may have been a child?s? A boy?s?. The complete lack of respect for human life is fully realised when Robbie observes that ?it was a leg in a tree?wedged in the first forking of the trunk?severed cleanly? small enough to be a child?s?; it is disturbing that the Robbie notes that the leg ?seemed to be on display, for their benefit or enlightenment: this is a leg?. ...read more.

Middle

The lack of chapter demarcations within Part Two gives first indication of the descent into chaos as order is broken down, and previous allies are instead pitted against each other as ?a hand whipped out and slapped the man?s face? and disturbingly he notes that even he could ?[understand] the exhilaration among the tormentors and the insidious way it could claim him?. It is clear that the war has a chaotic effect on men, as ?McEwan? [creates] the commentary that war can destroy even the best of men?2, including Robbie. It is only through the intervention of Mace that this chaos is somewhat diverted away from the RAF officer; clearly morality is still in existence but is already veering towards questionable. Miller similarly alludes to his in the accusations against Tituba, when even the lowly servant who simply works on behalf of the family is used as a scapegoat. The following accusations are similarly targeted at Good and Osburn, solely for being of lowly sort within Salem?s society and the easiest targets. Eventually the accusations take a much more hysterical turn when Putnam stands as perhaps the most corrupt schemer within Salem; he is the only to accuse Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft, in which even the authorities including Parris and Hale find questionable. ...read more.

Conclusion

Arguably it is possible to see the physical deaths and horrific images of corpses as far greater chaos than in Miller?s play; Robbie?s narration is evocative in normalising the sight of corpses and breakdown of order. However, ?The Crucible? also somewhat matches the chaos and cruelty of war, as we see the executions of numerous innocents as the result of human treachery and envy. The chaos that ensues in Miller?s descriptions are therefore far more disturbing in the driving force behind the destruction, where chaos is the result of intentions; in ?Atonement? Robbie is only swept away into chaos and imprisonment by the act of a ?silly, hysterical girl? who does not necessarily realise the full weight of her actions, while within Salem it is the deliberate acts of individuals that contribute. Thus the chaos seen within both texts is generally matched, although with different motives ? it is a different sort of chaos that is portrayed within the two, where one is avoidable and the other perhaps unavoidable in the sense of war and its inherent destructive capacity. 1 Susan C.W. Abbotson (The Crucible) 2 Lauren Chartuk (Atonement) ...read more.

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