Critical Essays On Atonement

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Notice how so much of the action takes place in a state where some senses are obstructed or absent while others are available.

Briony can "see" the incident between Cecilia and Robbie at the fountain, but she can't hear it.

And finally, Briony "hears" Lola being raped, but can't completely "see" what/who it is because it is dark.

Part One is all about perception and misperception.

Articles of note that are not as obvious to the reader that have to do with this theme are things like, is Briony the only person who should feel guilty?

Who else is at fault for the crime committed on that hot summer night in 1935? What about Paul Marshall's--the real assailant who gets away with rape and stands silent while an innocent man goes to prison.Should more not have been done in the investigation? Does Briony finally achieve her atonement by writing her story and keeping her lovers and allowing their love to survive?The second layer to the guilt theme has to do with the history of literature.When Briony admits to her reader that it has taken her sixty-four years and countless drafts to complete her book, the reader has to ask him/herself: "Which is the 'real' one?"Before the book even starts, the reader is given a Romantic novel quote--something out of Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey." This sets the tone for a book that will be packed with literary allegory.Aside from the crime she committed as a child, Briony feels guilty for her powers as a writer.She knows she has the autonomy to write whatever story she so chooses.That is, present the story from every single angle, and not just the writer's point of view.In achieving this, Briony hopes to atone for her misconception of events as a young girl. When she mistakenly observes Robbie and Cecilia making love in the library? Or when she officially accuses Robbie of the assault to authorities? What is certain, however, is that somewhere during Part One of the novel, Briony ceases to exist as a protected child in this world and enters the exposed world of adulthood.It leaves the question very open: Whose story is this? " All authors are subject to their own interpretation of events and it is this in-empirical science that is literature that can cause so much power over other human beings. Briony doesn't understand the letter Robbie has sent Cecilia and sees it as a threat.Robbie places the wrong letter in the envelope triggering, and eventually indicting him for rape.

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