Control And Power In Ian Mcewan's Atonement

1873 Words 8 Pages
Briony has a need for control and order and she uses writing as a way to achieve her needs by creating worlds in which she has the ability to manipulate her characters and their outcomes. Unable to limit herself to fiction, it transcends to the real world and leads to events that unfold in Ian McEwan’s Atonement. Briony, the youngest of the Tallis children with large age gaps between them, is often alone and isolated. This loneliness causes her to be self-centered and in a constant state of fantasy. It is difficult for her to understand that Not everyone thinks and feels the same way she does. This inability to understand her surroundings and the people around prompts her to take control of every situation. After witnessing the rape she approaches …show more content…
To her, writing can make “ the childhood of a spoiled prince can be framed within half a page, a moonlit dash through sleepy villages was one rhythmically emphatic sentence, falling in love could be achieved in a single word--a glance” (McEwan 7). As a writer, she is aware that she has complete freedom to command the lives of her characters. She decides what happens to the characters and she can choose to give the characters love or end them in ruin. She understands the capacity of her words, however, at the beginning of the novel she is too young to comprehend the difference between fictional plot and reality. Briony’s writes The Trials of Arabella in celebration of her brothers return home. The main purpose of the play is to steer her brother “away from his careless succession of girlfriends, toward the right form of wife...the one who one who would sweetly request Briony’s services as a bridesmaid” (McEwan 4). Briony believes that her play will make Leon behave according to her wishes. She assumes that she has the same power over real people like she does with her characters. This gives the audience a glimpse of what her personality is like. She perceives the world only through her eyes. She cannot fathom the idea that other people have their own perception of the world. She has yet to understand that she does not have the same influence over real people as …show more content…
Being the youngest child frequently left alone, she keeps herself occupied by writing stories. She uses these stories to escape reality, however, she becomes so lost in her stories that she is now unable to separate fiction and reality. Her love of writing comes from her overpowering need for order and control. Writing permits her to exercise her power over the characters and circumstances and she is able to create stories that will satisfy her. This is threatened when her cousins come to stay with her. Briony wants to perform the play she wrote, but her relatives do not meet her expectations. Frustrated, she abandons her play. Briony’s need to execute the play exactly how she imagines it reflects her constant need to be in control. She cannot accept anything that she did not conceive herself. Having abandoned her play she begins a new project based on what she sees at the fountain between Robbie and Cecilia and her her interpretation of it. Not able to comprehend what is happening between them, she fills the missing information with out of context assumptions. She perceives the events she witnesses to be more than what they are. She quickly starts to weave her plot and starts to believe it without searching for the truth. Her lack of interest in the truth is an example of why she cannot differentiate fiction and truth. These assumptions lead her to commit her crime and confidently stands by her

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