ENGL 2025 Literary Analysis Paper 3 - 1 Professor Amy Lister ENGL 2025 27 November 2013 Redemption of the Ultimate Guilt Ian McEwans novel Atonement

ENGL 2025 Literary Analysis Paper 3 - 1 Professor Amy...

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1 Professor Amy Lister ENGL 2025 27 November 2013 Redemption of the Ultimate Guilt Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement takes the reader through Briony’s, the protagonist (debatably), journey of whether or not an individual can be truly forgiven. The novel itself is written by McEwan but is told from the perspective of Briony. Briony writes about her life journey, the affects of her accusations made at a young age, and how her accusations affected other individuals’ lives. The accusations Briony made not only ruined the fate of her family’s friend, Robbie, but also prevented Robbie and Briony’s sister, Cecilia, from uniting in the future. Briony not only devoted herself to reuniting Robbie and Cecilia, but she also devoted her adult life to gaining redemption from Robbie, Cecilia, and herself. Briony’s need for redemption directly correlates with the overall theme of forgiveness and guilt in Atonement and answers the question of whether or not someone can be truly forgiven. Briony’s obsession of maintaining order, expectation, and structure throughout her life is ruined by the course of events throughout one day. McEwan writes that because Briony wished for, “a harmonious, organized world, [she was] denied the reckless possibilities of wrongdoing” (5). Throughout one day, Briony wrongfully perceives many events and interactions that occur between Robbie and Cecilia. First, Briony witnesses Robbie and Cecilia by the fountain; Briony thinks Robbie is demanding Cecilia to undress, but in reality Cecilia undresses to retrieve a piece of a broken vase from the
2 fountain. Second, Cecilia intercepts an explicit letter from Robbie to Cecilia that was initially never supposed to be sent. Lastly, Briony witnesses Robbie and Cecilia having sex in the library; however, Briony thinks that Robbie is taking advantage of Cecilia and Briony runs away from them out of fear.

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