Extract (pg. 11-12):
“Briony knew he had a point. This was precisely why she loved plays, or hers at least; everyone would adore her. Looking at the boys, under whose chairs water was pooling before spilling between the floorboard cracks, she knew they could never understand her ambition. Forgiveness softened her tone.
‘Do you think Shakespeare was just showing off?’
Pierrot glanced across his sister’s lap towards Jackson. This warlike name was faintly familiar, with its whiff of school and adult certainty, but the twins found their courage in each other.”
Within the extract, Ian McEwan uses purposely melodramatic terms to not only indicate Briony’s passion for the performance of The Trials of Arabella, but also to construct tension in the scene, perhaps foreshadowing some future calamity occurring in the play’s performance. The vast, sweeping statements made by Briony (e.g “Everyone would adore her“) reflects not only her childlike naïveté, but also her expectations for the play, especially seeing its auspicious performance would coincide with the return home of her brother, Leon. Indeed, her position as playwright appears to gift her with something of a messianic complex regarding her cousins; she resigns herself to the fact they “could never understand her ambition“, and allows the virtue of forgiveness to soften her tone towards her cousins; her expectations are high as ever, despite her appearing to calm down towards her cousins. Additionally, the description of Jackson’s name as “warlike” (though apt) further emphasises the tension of the scene; Briony’s paranoia regarding her cousin’s performance of her play causes her to analyse even superfluous aspects of her cousins (e.g their names).