Sonia Jaworska, 1st year M.

A CLIL THE SIGNIFICANCE OF "THE TRIALS OF ARABELLA" IN ATONEMENT BY IAN McEWAN Only during the first reading of Atonement one realizes that "The Trials of Arabella", Briony's play, may serve some higher purpose in the Ian McIwan's novel. It is due to the fact that the preparations and rehearsals for the performance occupy most of the pages in Part One, but also because many characters are involved in the making of the play. After finishing the book the reader is certain that „The Trials...”, being a frame for the narrative, must have some deeper meaning indeed. What they still may not apprehend, however, is that the play itself- not only the plot, but the cast choice and the rehearsals, works as a cipher thanks to which one may decode and foresee future events and characters' fates. The presence of the play within the novel provides insight into Briony's mind and therefore allows to foresee her future actions. She wrote a play 'to provoke [Leon's] admiration, and guide him away from his careless succession of girlfriends' (Atonement 4) Briony was a girl who needed to be adored. To fulfil this need she wrote a play and probably for the same reason she did not say the truth during the investigation: she wanted everybody to praise her courage, she wanted to feel important but even more than that- not to cause dissapointment. Briony attempted to influence other people's lives and did not want to limit herself only to Leon. As the author of a play she had the power over the imaginary characters and she would love to extend that power over all people around. But Briony was not only the author of "The Trials", she also wrote a book within which the play works. When the reader acknowledges this fact he or she immediately starts to wonder whether the story of Robbie and Cecilia is fiction just the same way as Arabella's story is. Eventually, Briony admits that although the story of Robbie and Cecilia is true, she changed the ending for a happy one. The plot within „The Trials...” is extremely revealing. For one thing, the story of Arabella as such is very schematic: the bad and the good are easily distinguished and the events follow certain logical order, a pattern of romance. It is because Briony as a child perceived the world as governed by cause and effect. That sort of thinking was the reason she misunderstood Robbie's intentions and drew wrong conclusions. For Briony, "The Trials of Arabella" was an ultimate love story and therefore Robbie was positioned as a bad count whereas Cecilia was a lead part. It would fit logically and chronologically into the story. Briony expected Robbie to be evil and to be replaced eventually by a good prince. However, it happens that Robbie was a prince in disguise (Robbie wanted to be a doctor and the noble prince in "The Trials..." was one too) while Marshall turned out to be a bad count. Arabella is desribed as stubborn and proud and Cecilia may be characterised by

She cares about appearences. "showing off".these features as well. London: Vintage Books. That would explain why she did not tell the truth about the evening encounter with Marshall: she seduced him or let herself be seduced and. the tragedy wouldn't have happened at all. as one of them says. the attitude of the actors towards the play and obviously the plot itself is an enormous source of information. Jackson finally chooses to play a prince role while Pierrot prefers an evil character and at the end of the novel it is Jackson who is dead and Pierrot who is still alive. although. after the fact. Works Cited (normally on the separate piece of paper) McEwan. she refuses to lie on the ground in fear of making her dress dirty (Atonement 55). . While rehearsing. 2007. rehearsals.. Lola wants to be Arabella and manipulates Briony into agreeing to that. just like Arabella did. Ian. the choice of the role may have somehow influenced the lives of the Quincey's twins. To sum up. What's more. "The Trials. for them the story did not end well. The interesting issue is the cast choice and the play production that tells the reader more about Lola and the Quincey's twins.. It is important when one sees the play as an intrigue: the only innocents. Atonement. there is much to be said about how "The Trials of Arabella" influences and foreshadows the main events in the Atonement. The play becomes a key factor in revealing and understanding fundamental truths about the characters and even allows the reader to find the answers to the questions concerning issues not entirely clarified in the book. she even run away from home. Secondly. was afraid of losing reputation. Thirdly. Firstly. the twins did not want to play. In the novel that leaves the reader with so many understatements a theatrical play that serves as a way of finding the truth is an invaluable device. wanted to stay away from." foreshadows the hardships that are to be encountered by Cecilia and Robbie in their short lives. If Lola and Briony had done the same in their lives. The act of choosing roles. It mirrors in a perfect way the fate of Robbie and Marshall. the twins. That shows she is not innocent but rather more independent and stronger than anyone would suspect.

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