Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which Mcewan and Frayn Explore the Themes of Perception and Misunderstanding in 'Atonement' and 'Spies'

2535 Words11 Pages
In Atonement and Spies, Ian McEwan and Michael Frayn explore the theme of perception by showing how major events such as war and the shift between childhood and adulthood can alter the way we view life, and therefore lead to misunderstanding. Children’s lives can revolve around fantasy and as one grows-up our perception changes and the tendency to fantasise is diluted. The incompatibility between the worlds of adults and children and the shift from one to the other causes both novels to be riddled with misunderstanding. The actions of everyone in this book are also greatly determined by the historical context of the time in which it takes place in. It could be said that the books are "War Novels". The period in which the stories take place in is one of great political turmoil near the beginning of and during WW2. The war is the primary focus of the novels. It shapes the lives of all the characters, e.g. Briony in the war Hospital, Robbie at Dunkirk, and Stephen and Keith playing their war games. With Robbie and Uncle Peter fighting in the war the lives of all the other characters are affected in both books. This was common during the war as nobody was exempt from service. In both novels the war seems to fuel the misperception, so would the misperception have continued for so long had it not been for the war? Stephen and Keith would not have had the setting in which to accuse Mrs Hayward of being a German spy. Cecilia and Robbie would like have been married, and so may have confronted the Tallis family with the truth. Both Briony and Stephen take part in games in which their view of the outside world is obscured by their imaginations. In his ‘Guardian’ review on Atonement, critic Geoff Dyer states that “the novel’s psychological acuity derives, always, from their fidelity to a precisely delineated reality.”[1] This supports the notion that within the books, the

More about Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which Mcewan and Frayn Explore the Themes of Perception and Misunderstanding in 'Atonement' and 'Spies'

Open Document