context and symbolism

  • Created by: Rachel.9
  • Created on: 28-01-19 12:09

Uncle Clem’s vase: - symbolism

  • Family heirloom was given to Jack Tallis’s brother Clem to commemorate Clem’s liberation of a village near Verdun in World War I
  • Early in the book, while Cecilia and Robbie flirt, they accidentally damage the vase. Cecilia disrobes and goes into a fountain to retrieve the broken piece, and Brionwitnesses this event and understands it to signify that Robbie has mistreated her sister. 
  • This misunderstanding, forms the basis for Briony’s notion that Robbie is guilty of ****** Lola 
  • The accidental destruction of a Tallis family heirloom leads to a major rupture in the Tallis family itself, and the token won in World War I that honours the family leads to the breaking apart of the family in World War II.

Trials of Arabella: - symbolism

  • Briony authors and appears in The Trials of Arabella in much the same way that she authors and appears in the book as a whole
  • The play’s reappearance within different contexts of the narrative illustrates the way that Briony’s role is beyond her control, even when she herself has authored the part she plays
  • Trials of Arabella also mimics the actual story of Atonement, as it tells the story of a heroine and her doctor, which matches up with the story of Cecilia and Robbie.
  • In the play it is Briony as Arabella who ends up with the doctor, Robbie in actuality doesn’t end up actually a doctor, the happy ending does not resolve all their misfortune or anger at Briony herself and it creates a kind of resonance that illustrates both how people grow while staying in some ways the same, and how literature both can and can’t capture and affect the


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