scene, she feels the existence of some affair between Cecilia and her love, Robbie. The pond scene happens when she is looking out from an upstairs window deep in her authoring imagination. She sees Robbie ordering Cecilia to strip-tease and she is shocked by the scene believing that he might have ‘blackmailed’ or ‘threatened’ (McEwan, Atonement 38) her to obey. She also thinks: How Robbie, the son of a “landscape gardener…had the boldness of ambition to ask for Cecilia’s hand (?)” (ibid).
The window can be considered as a symbol for Briony’s imagination. Through the window of her imagination, Robbie is harassingly ordering Cecilia to get naked, and he is pleasuring from witnessing her naked body, while in fact the story is different. Robbie had only wanted to help Cecilia fill a vase with water from the pond. As a result of a quarrel-like conversation, the vase breaks and falls into the pond. In order to save the invaluable vase, which Cecilia’s uncle had saved from the war, Cecilia takes off her dress and jumps into the pond and Robbie stands there unmoved. This is the second scene where Briony’s lack and imagination lead her to judge Robbie.
The curious girl is confused by the scene and is craving to find answers to her questions. She says: “It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding (McEwan, Atonement 40). She cannot understand the incidents while she is really curious to know. Briony’s imagination demands answers. And the only available source is the Specter of ideological web hovering over her society. The Specter teaches her that a person who does not act according to the teachings of her society and culture and the one who harasses ladies in the pond is of a dark nature and an evil character.
In the subsequent days after the pond scene, Briony’s presuppositions find more proofs when she reads Robbie’s love letter to Cecilia. In the night celebrating the family gathering after the arrival of Leon, Robbie being an old fellow is invited to the Tallis’s house for the dinner. In order to apologize about the breaking of the vase in the pond and also to express his feeling to Cecilia, Robbie decides to write a letter. He writes a very formal letter and tries to articulate some of his feelings in a very formal and socially-accepted format. After that, as a matter of fun, he writes another letter, personally for himself, being so informal telling about his sensations to her. In this informal letter, he uses the socially-perceived derogatory word ‘cunt’ and writes about the erotic imaginations he desires he could tell her.
Robbie gives the letter to Briony and asks her to give it to Cecilia but bad luck gives the wrong letter to Briony. Robbie mistakes his personal erotic note with the formal one which he wanted to give to Cecilia. This is the third point where Briony’s lack causes her to feed her curiosity and open the letter. The derogatory word and the tone shape so much a strong confidence in Briony that Robbie is a villain. Talking to Lola about the letter also helps Briony to finds a word for him; a maniac.
Her nearly settled confusion finds again another proof about the sex-maniac. At the night of the dinner party, looking for Cecilia, Briony enters the library. There she is witnessed to the first and probably the last sexual encounter between Cecilia and Robbie. She is abruptly shocked by the coupling scene and all her doubts turn to dust. From then on, Briony makes sure that all the ideological web has taught her are plain truth and such a villain having sexual relationship with her sister out of marriage is definitely a maniac and that she must protect their house from him in the absence of their father. In fact, even without Lola’s rape attempt scene, Briony might have tried her best to find another means in order to keep their house protected from Robbie’s demoniac behaviors.
A quick look at all these action shows that all Briony does is a result of her lack. That is her lack to know more that makes her so curious about the issues and follow the traces of relationships between the people. That is her lack of patriarchal power that makes her feel the responsibility of protecting the family. That is her lack of authority that makes her externalize the patriarchal ideologies of the society. That is her wish for power that makes her efforts to dominate the family issues and use the means of force by reporting to the police. That is her drive of imagination that draws the diabolic images from the good old fellow called Robbie and it was the lack of sensation as a child that falls her in love with her savior from drowning in the river.
The lack is apparent in little Briony and the inscription of ideology as a result of this lack has also been fully discussed in the preceding segments. Now it is time to point at Michael’s sources of the lack. Referring back to Solar, the novel begins with Michael’s miserable condition. He is a 53 year-old “man of narrowed mental condition, anhedonic, monothematic, (and) stricken,” who does “not know how to behave” (McEwan, Solar 3). His young wife is having affairs with their builder, a sort of construction man; Rodney Tarpin, in a ‘punitively’ manner ‘without remorse’ (ibid). Michael is discovering himself “among an array of emotions” and in “intense moments of shame and longing” (ibid). The narrator of the story comments on this situation as “misery was not simple” (ibid 4) and that “he was frozen, he was an abject, he could think of nothing” (ibid 5).
Even when he tries to get closer to Patrice by asking for forgiveness for all his wrongdoings, she does not care at all, and in response to his apology, reveals the identity of her lover to him. She is so cold to him. Naked, he is “a disgrace, an idiot, a weakling” (McEwan, Solar 6) who is unable to satisfy his wife, while she resembles Merlyn Monroe to him and his friends (ibid 7).
Having married five wives, Michael has found a new ‘perfect’ love; an object of desire, which is unreachable for him. This best shows the Lacanian lack in him. Even the desire for Patrice shows his lack. “Desire for Patrice came on him out of nowhere, like an attack of stomach camp” (ibid 4). The first sentence greatly shows his lack and the second mockingly representing his desperate attempt to fulfill his desire at any cost and by any means possible. Probably, McEwan is also well aware of his character’s psyche, when he notes that “he needed to cease needing her, but desire was not like that. He (only) wanted to want her” (ibid 7). In such ‘delusional’ state Michael is impressed by “his (own) ability to think of nothing else” (ibid 5), but her.
Like Briony, Michael feels the lack too, and McEwan’s narrator points at the issue too. “He lacked the will, the material. He lacked the spark. He had no new ideas” (McEwan, Solar 15). And, for a Nobel Prize winner of physics the lack is much more unbearable too. The lack in such miserable situation is what makes Michael to pursue a subject of desire in order to fulfill his desire.
Here cometh the mysterious web of ideology. For the investigative mind of Briony, the social ideological issues of family virtues, marriage, and guilt were the web to entrap her character and for Michael the highly political and ideological issues of global warming and climate change leading the world to a permanent destruction and end become the subjects of fulfillment.
Michael is craving an ideology to escape from his disastrous situation. One should again point at the initial quote from John Updike’s (1932-2009) Rabbit is Rich, which says it all. “It gives him great pleasure, makes Rabbit feel rich, to contemplate the world’s wasting” (McEwan, Solar I). This very simple sentence is theorizing all that Žižek says on ideology. Michael starts his investigations on global warming and climate change, in search of new and green sources of energy to substitute fossil fuels, not because of the fact that he is a savior of the world, but because he needs what Updike calls the ‘great pleasure’ and in order to ‘feel rich.’
Based on Žižek, when the subject lacks, it goes for an object of desire to satisfy its lack, and this process gives the subject a surplus pleasure. This jouissance creates excess in the actions and craves. Žižek in his book On Belief writes:
Crucial is here the asymmetrical relationship of lack and excess: the proliferation of an object generates the surplus-enjoyment which fills in the lack of jouissance, and although these objects a never provide “the thing itself,” although they are semblances which always fall short of the full jouissance, they are nonetheless experienced as excessive, as the surplus-enjoyment – in short, in them, the “not enough,” the falling short, coincides with the excess. (22)
One might roughly claim that such a problem is also happening to Michael and Briony. They both lack enjoyment from their miserable conditions. Briony has been excessively suffering all her life for her teen-age wrongdoings, which supposedly led to the death of Robbie and Cecilia. She always feels guilty and the only thing that gives her a real sort of pleasure is writing over and over again. She writes their story extensively again and again almost until the end of her life and this type of writing can be considered as an excessive action which creates a jouissance in her. The lack of her sister and their love life is the root cause of such action. Briony lacks them. She lacks the sense of goodness. She writes again and again and gives her sister and her lover new chances of life in order to sooth her desire for them, to alley the desire for Robbie whom she childishly believed to love. She writes extensively to free herself from the pain of her losses.
Michael also lacks a motivation, a cause for life. He wishes