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Irony in Atonement

The ironic developments in Atonement that drove plot, major developments, and affected the outcome of the novel

Kristen Hassenkamp

on 6 December 2013

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Transcript of Irony in Atonement

Forbidden Love
Guilt & Atonement
Claiming to protect her sister, Briony tries to keep Cecilia and Robbie apart. Her precocious behavior prompts her to accuse Robbie for the rape of her cousin,for she believes him to be a sexual monster.
Atonement's plot stems from one major irony that takes place early in the book.
The one intention of 13-year-old Briony Tallis to abandon her childhood and live as an adult creates numerous problems in the novel and drives the plot to reconcile these problems.
Briony's misconstrued observation of the relationship between her sister Cecilia and the neighborhood boy, Robbie Turner, begins the ironic tale. Seeing their growing attraction as impure, Briony's bad view of Robbie is confirmed when she reads a risque letter, detailing Robbie's lust for Cecilia.
Ironic Development In

When examining Briony's reason for exposing her sister's secret and furthering the scandal with dramatic flair, it becomes obvious that she exaggerates in order to observe what she calls her "new, adult life"to selfishly gain more experience to enhance her writing skills.
Irony: After many years of overlooking one another, Cecilia and Robbie are never allowed a moment to truly enjoy their love, once they realize it's there.
The only place their romance can take place is within the pages of a book written by the girl who destroyed their chance in reality.
By Ian McEwan
Briony's Belief
As willing oneself to mature is impossible, Briony still acts in a childish way for the remainder of the first part of the book. Her actions result in even more irony as she contradicts the promise she made to herself.
Like a child, Briony does not understand that Cecilia also likes Robbie and that their actions are of love, rather than force.
Although Briony is convinced Robbie was the attacker, trying to "protect" her sister ruins the couple's lives. Robbie goes to jail for a crime he did not commit, and Cecilia cuts all connection to her family.
After learning of her cousin Lola's real rapist, Briony does not stop her from marrying the man.
Briony reveals herself as the author of the story, using it as her tool to redeem herself. She has decided to alter reality in her book, so that Robbie and Cecilia live, together in love, without forgiving her.
Briony's creativity is what isolates her in the beginning of the novel, but it is her guilt that prevents her from connecting with her family. The feeling of isolation prevents Cecilia and Briony from ending their isolation.
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