Theme Of Love In Atonement

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Atonement, by Ian McEwan, explores the theme of love through a variety of techniques such as symbolism, metaphors and repetition discuss the themes of newfound, unavailable and nurturing love. Uniquely, McEwan intertwines these techniques with foreshadowing and imagery to convey complex emotions guilt and jealousy. Additionally, repetition and characterisation develop Cecilia’s caring nature.

McEwan’s use of symbolism develops strong themes of shattered and the unavailable love. Uncle Clem’s vase indicates the outcomes of Cecilia and Robbie’s love, considering they break the vase the day they discover their love for each other, signifying their love would not be forever. Moreover, it is later revealed that the mended vase had “simply come away” in Betty’s hand (pg. 279), foreshadowing their death revealed by Briony in the epilogue of the novel. The vase also symbolises the lost love between the Tallis family whose strong relationships were shattered, just like to the vase. Cecilia wanted to “comfort her sister” as ”it would have suited her better,” but Briony began to develop complex emotions that Cecilia could no longer comprehend (pg. 44). The cracks in the family begin to show just like the “three fine meandering lines” of the vase (pg. 43) when it was revealed that Jack Tallis was having an affair. Consequent to Robbie being accused, Cecilia cut communications with the rest of her family and Briony followed suit in an attempt to atone and distance herself as well.
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