Briony Tallis in Atonement

Briony Tallis is one of the main protagonists of the novel Atonement. She is the youngest of the three siblings and the only child in Tallis family due to substantial age difference among the siblings.

In part one, she is a thirteen-year-old aspiring writer. She has a vivid imagination which often had her to misinterpret unfamiliar event throughout part 1. Described as self-centered perfectionist, she is unable to accept situations which don’t conjure to her definitions of order. For e.g. Her constant efforts to shape the reality around her to synchronize with her stories highlights the controlling aspects of her personality.

Briony’s desire to be the center of attention and be acknowledged as an adult is also one of the main highlights of the novel where after her cousin Lola is supposedly assault, Briony takes it upon herself to punish the criminal that in her eyes is Robbie, her sister’s lover. Her naivety eventually ruins Robbie’s life sending him to jail.

In part three, she is 18 years old who instead of joining in Cambridge goes on to become a nurse. Having realized her mistakes, she, majority of times remains guilty and tries to escape by busying herself in her duties. At times often wondering a life different from any guilt, mistakes and crime done by her. Although having some sense of the world, it isn’t until she meets a young solider about to die, does she reflect to the suffering of those around her.

By the end of the novel, Briony aged 77 is an author. Unlike her previous drafts which concealed her, Lola’s and Marshall’s crime, the sixth and the final draft do es none instead tweaks the ending to make the lovers reunite as her ultimate efforts for atonement. Although Briony throughout the novel is the one with most character development, her happy ending of lovers shows that she has not come very far off from her Trails of Arabella days. She accepts that she can never achieve any atonement. One might feel that her being diagnosed with vascular dementia which fastens her death might portray otherwise and that in the end she had achieved atonement.


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