• Pernille Brøndsted Nielsen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis consists of an analysis and interpretation of the novel Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan, with a focus on the themes, narrative strategies, and literary devices used in the construction of the narrative. The novel is a self-reflexive narrative that uses many literary features, which are designed to draw attention to the construction of the novel’s narrative. Therefore, the theme of the novel is writing. I take my point of departure in the British-American scholar of English Literature, Brian Finney’s argument that the novel is about the making of fiction, which is both evident in McEwan’s structure of the novel, but also in his portrayal of the protagonist Briony, who finds it difficult to distinguish between real life and fiction. A discussion is made on how McEwan has constructed his novel, which formalistic choices he has made, and how these relate to postmodern theory. The thesis consists of four sections that contain discussions of these questions from different perspectives.
The discussions specifically focus on the formalistic choices made in the construction, such as the narrative strategies applied in the novel and how these have resulted in different readings of the novel. Therefore, a discussion has been made on how critics have both read the novel as postmodern and anti-postmodern. Additionally, the discussions focus on literary devices used in the novel, such as intertextuality and metafiction. Intertextual references are made in the novel both explicitly and implicitly to influence the reader in a particular way, and to generate more meaning and depth to the text. The metafictional perspective is implemented in order to draw attention to the text as a literary artefact. In this way, McEwan underlines the constructed nature of the narrative. Additionally, the novel is read as a historiographic metafictional novel, because it is both self-reflexive, while portraying historical events. The last discussion of the thesis consists of the ontological levels of control and authority implemented in the novel, which underline the discussion of how the novel is a constructed narrative.
The discussions made in the thesis serve to understand how McEwan has constructed his narrative, and result in a conclusion, which states that McEwan has written a novel that is about the making of fiction, to which he draws on a postmodern discourse. The fusion of both postmodern techniques and classic realist techniques serve as the foundation for the novel’s effect of drawing attention to its own construction of a narrative
Publication date28 May 2015
Number of pages76
ID: 213055326