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

Multiple Perspectives in Atonement

Extracts from this document...


Multiple Perspectives in Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' McEwan's novel (and subsequently Wright's film), manages to grip the audience and hold its attention simply by retelling a story from different viewpoints. It is this use of multiple perspectives that allows Atonement to be more than a merely average book or film, and turns it into a moving, modern day classic. 'The novel's epigraph, taken from Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, serves as both a warning and as a guide to how the reader should view this narrative.'1 It urges them to consult their own understanding of events. Yet, even in spite of the novels epitaph, we still place our trust in what we see and hear. This is particularly evident from watching the film. In the opening sequence, we see a dolls house, yet we do not realise it is a dolls house until the camera zooms out. Similarly, in the second scene, we see the exchange between Robbie and Cecilia from Briony's viewpoint. If this was a viewer's first experience of Atonement, they would be forgiven for sharing Briony's misunderstanding that Robbie was the villain of ...read more.


While McEwan uses six different viewpoints throughout the film, when it comes to the attack, we only see Briony's perspective, which shows that not only was she the only one to see the attack, but also serves to highlight the fact that her opinion, which has been formed from her clouded perspective, will be the only one which matters. This could be due to the fact that throughout the text, and indeed the film to a certain extent, two authorial figures are seen; McEwan and Briony. Although Briony is a fictional character, and although we get other characters viewpoints in certain scenes, we are very much aware that she is set apart from the others, that this is her story to tell. We see this manipulation of perspective as Briony accepts the fact that she is too young to understand certain things, and the use of language like 'she wasn't to know it then'3 emphasises to the reader that this is an older Briony looking back on her young self, trying to justify her wrongdoings. ...read more.


For example, in the novel, the reader is told of the fact that Briony feels bound to protect her older sister from the advances of the housekeeper's son, yet in the film, all that there is to establish this fact is Saoirse Ronan's acting. Wright uses cinematic effects to demonstrate McEwan's idea of multiple perspectives, for example, his use of lighting in the library scene and the scene with the attack on Lola, as well as his use of focus in the scene in which Robbie gives the letter to Briony. However, having said all that, due to excellent casting and high standard of acting, the use of different perspectives on certain scenes still manages to achieve its aim of dragging us into the world of the Tallis', making us feel what the characters feel and forget that this is a fictitious story. After reading McEwan's novel, the urge is there to go back and read it from the beginning, with the new knowledge of Cecilia's and Robbie's relationship. Atonement makes great use of multiple perspectives, showing us how events can look completely different from the eyes of another person, and what disastrous consequences these different perspectives can have on peoples lives. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Literary Criticism 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 University Degree Literary Criticism essays

  1. A Bakhtinian Reading of Geoffrey Chaucer

    of 'The Miller's Tale' as compared to the higher Breton lay style used by the Franklin. We also have the use of speech rather than the more formal storytelling in the prologues, in which the host often makes judgement on the stories, or some other pilgrim may take offense to or agree with the moral of the tale.

  2. Orientalism, Edward Said. Orientalism legitimates a vocabulary, a universe of representative discourse peculiar ...

    The Orientalist was well aware of his position of power and saw himself as "a hero rescuing the Orient from the obscurity, alienation, and strangeness which he himself had properly distinguished." (Said 121) His sciences of philology (lexicography, grammar, translation, cultural decoding)

  1. Masculine Dominance of Australianness in Australian Literature

    Writers constructed images of lawlessness and antiauthoritarianism through masculine characterisation. Writers were generally men and they wrote about male convicts, male gold miners, and male bushrangers. This gender bias was common, as the women did not have equal standing or representation in society or literature.

  2. Discuss the Theme of Realisation in 'A Doll's House'

    Torvald continues to talk of Nora in the worst possible light but Nora has already Agnieszka Lovell come to realisation and answers him coldly and unaffected by what he is saying to her, "Do you realise what you've done?", Torvald asks, "Yes, now I'm beginning to realise everything."

  1. Analyse the relationship between body and writing in Winterson and Lispector

    Thus, the language is often instinctively assumed feminine. The male-implicated situations are ones such as the fight scene between the narrator and his(?) rival, Elgin. If the narrator is a woman, the violence seems socially unacceptable but as a male, the exchanging of blows is equal, man on man violence, as opposed to man on woman violence.

  2. It is clear when upon reading a novel that it does much more than ...

    The Slough of Despond represents Christian's foes. Equiano's Travels can also be illustrated as a personified allegory, as it contains the effects of an autobiography, because it is told through the eyes of Equiano. Another similarity between both novels is that they are both travel narratives.

  1. Specters of Totalitarianism: Representations of Power and Control in Twentieth Century Dystopian Fiction ...

    Atwood?s novel shows that the Gilead regime terrorises its population through public humiliation and show trials. The Gilead regime publicly humiliates its citizens by the way that earlier on in the novel, the aunts carry out a ?particution? (p.139), whereby the handmaids are forced to instil hatred and blame for the victim concerned.

  2. From Hobbit to Hero- Frodo's Quest as an Examplary Monomyth

    be either his country, dimension or universe (symbolizing the hero's present life horizon) and steps into the unknown dark and danger. (1966: 77-78) 'Crossing the First Threshold' in Frodo?s Hero?s Journey can be interpreted either literally or symbolically. It may appeal to a figurative crossing in the sense of stepping

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