Atonement Literary Elements
Atonement Literary Elements
The once best-selling book the atonement by Ian McEwan is now a motion picture. This film stars A list actors, including Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy . The brilliant Director Joe Wright combined with screenwriter Christopher Hampton turns the bestseller into the award winning picture. Though adapted for the big screen, the film still contains important literary elements such as: theme, symbolism, conflicts, and setting.

One major theme of the movie is thing aren’t always as they appear . The major character Briony in many instances misinterprets what she has witnessed and these misunderstanding ruin the life of the people she cares the most about. The first misunderstanding took place in her back yard where she finds her elder her sister played by Kiera Knightley undressing and jumping into a fountain .in front of her garden taker Robbie played by James McAvoy. Briony’s wild imagination allows her to believe Robbie and Cecilia were having a lover’s quarrel. When actually, Robby just broke the most expensive piece of china they owed and Cecilia jumped in to the fountain to retrieve the broken piece. This is exacerbated when Briony later intercepts an erotic letter written by Robbie, intended for Cecilia’s eyes only. This letter and the fact that she caught Robby and her sister having sexual relations in the library, makes Robbie appear to be “sex maniac”. So later on when her cousin Lola Quincy was raped she automatically assumes it to be the sex crazed gardener.

This leads to the other major theme of discrimination between social classes. Though Robbie has been exceptionally well-treated and well educated, neither he nor the family members could ever completely forget that he is the” gardener”, and that all he ever got was given as an enormous special favour and not by birth right. This is due to the fact that he was friends with the Tallis’ children. He would never be good enough for Cecilia. Cecilias natural destiny of marrying and having children would be only shared with a suitable partner, like the chocolate factory owner Paul Marshall. Paul Marshal was the man who actually raped the cousin but was never suspected, even five years later when Briony realizes it was Paul who raped her cousin; the family thought it was the other work boy Danny. It was because of this discrimination that Cecilia would never be with her true love.

This extends to another theme that love doesn’t always prevail. Though Cecilia and Robbie loved each other whole heartedly, love was not enough. It was because of Briony that Robbie was thrown into jail and then later forced into the army. Life circumstances had kept them apart Even after Cecilia abandon her family and became a working class nurse, Robbie and Cecilia were never together since the night in the library .they were never to see each other again for they both died in 1940.

Themes were not the only literary element presented in the film; symbolism can also be seen throughout the motion picture. The first and most important symbolism to be presented in the film is the typewriter. The typewriter symbolizes life or a way life could’ve been. Briony uses the typewriter to achieve atonement and rewrite the past. Using the typewriter she creates the time that Cecilia and Robbie never had together, the time they longed for and deserved. She gave them their happiness that they couldn’t receive in real lie due to her actions. The color red has a great significance and represents death. The first time red is seen in the film is right after the library confrontation; when Cecilia wipes her mouth nervously with a white napkin and a touch of blood is deposited on the napkin. The red blood foreshadows the death caused by their actions in the library. The color red also can be seen in the hospital, where Briony works as a nurse as a kind of atonement, when Briony is called to the bedside of a young French soldier who is fatally wounded is surrounded by a red curtain. Also Broiny is seen wearing a red cape throughout the end of the movie representing the burden of Robbie’s and Cecilia’s death she has to carry on her shoulders.

The burden Briony feels is one of the major conflicts of the movie. After Robbie was arrested Briony feels incredibly guilty and wants amends for her wrongdoing. Because of her guilt of sending Robbie to a horrible war, she has given up her dream of attending Cambridge University and now nurses soldiers. She takes the exhausting and emotionally draining work, which includes the constant cleaning of bedpans as a deserved punishment. It was only when she found out that she was dying of vascular dementia did she decide that she would write the book and finally reach atonement.

The setting of this movie is very important to the plot.. Since the book occurs in 1940’s London it allows the story to occur. Most of

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Major Character Briony And Front Of Her Garden Taker Robbie. (May 31, 2021). Retrieved from