Briony Tallis
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Quotes for
Briony Tallis (Character)
from Atonement (2007)

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Atonement (2007)
Briony Tallis, aged 13: Lola, can I tell you something? Something really terrible?
Lola Quincey: Yes please.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: What's the worst word you can possibly imagine?

Briony Tallis, aged 13: Cee?
Cecilia Tallis: Yes?
Briony Tallis, aged 13: Why don't you talk to Robbie anymore?
Cecilia Tallis: I do. We just move in different circles, that's all.

Briony Tallis, aged 13: How can you hate plays?

Robbie Turner: Come on, pal. You should be getting dressed.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: If I fell in the river, would you save me?
Robbie Turner: Of course.
[Briony jumps into the water and Robbie dives after her; eventually, he pulls her out of the water and drops her near the bank]
Briony Tallis, aged 13: Thank you, thank you, thank you...
Robbie Turner: That was an incredibly bloody stupid thing to do.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: I wanted you to save me.
Robbie Turner: Don't you know how easily you could have drowned?
Briony Tallis, aged 13: You saved me.
Robbie Turner: You stupid child! You could have killed us both! Is that your idea of a joke?
[she looks at him for a moment, shocked by his tone, but defiant nonetheless]
Briony Tallis, aged 13: I want to thank you for saving my life. I'll be eternally grateful to you.
[he strides away angrily, into the woods, leaving Briony disconsolate amidst the cow parsley]

[first lines]
Briony Tallis, aged 13: I finished my play.

Briony Tallis, aged 13: The princess was well aware of his remorseless wickedness. But that made it no easier to overcome the voluminous love she felt in her heart for Sir Romulus. The princess knew instinctively that the one with red hair was not to be trusted. As his young ward dived again and again into the depths of the lake, in search of the enchanted chalice, Sir Romulus twirled his luxuriant mustache. Sir Romulus rode with his two companions, northwards, drawing ever closer to an effulgent sea. So heroic in manner, he appeared so valiant in word... And no could ever guess at the darkness lurking in the black heart of Sir Romulus Turnbull. He was the most dangerous man in the world.

Briony Tallis, aged 13: Yes. I saw him. I saw him with my own eyes.

Lola Quincey: [Lola has just extracted the lead role in Briony's play - Arabella - from its obviously reluctant author] I suppose we should start by reading it.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: [sharply] If you're going to be Arabella, then I'll be the director, thank you very much.

Briony Tallis, aged 13: Prologue.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: This is the tale of spontaneous Arabella,
Briony Tallis, aged 13: Who ran away with an extrinsic fellow.
Briony Tallis, aged 13: It grieved her parents to see their firstborn
Briony Tallis, aged 13: Evanesce from her home to go to Eastbourne.

Briony - 18 years old: I am very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused you. I am very, very sorry...

Briony - 18 years old: I want to go in front of a judge and change my evidence, Cee.
Cecilia Tallis: Don't call me that!
[pause]
Cecilia Tallis: Please don't call me that.

Briony - 18 years old: There is no Briony.

Cecilia Tallis: There isn't much time. Robbie has to report for duty at six and he's got a train to catch. So sit down. There are some things you're going to do for us.
[Briony and Cecilia sit in the kitchen. Robbie leans on the table, looming over them]
Robbie Turner: You'll go to your parents as soon as you can and tell them everything they need to know to be convinced that your evidence was false. You'll go and see a solicitor and make a statement and have it signed and witnessed and send copies to us. Is that clear?
Briony - 18 years old: Yes.
Robbie Turner: Then you'll write a detailed letter to me, explaining everything that led up to you saying you saw me by the lake.
Cecilia Tallis: Try and include whatever you can remember of what Danny Hardman was doing that night.
Briony - 18 years old: Hardman?
Robbie Turner: Yes!
Briony - 18 years old: It wasn't Danny Hardman. It was Leon's friend, Marshall.
[Cecilia and Robbie look at her, astonished]
Cecilia Tallis: I don't believe you.
Briony - 18 years old: He's married Lola; I've just come from their wedding.
[Silence. Finally, Robbie exhales the breath he's been holding, Cecilia looks across at him]
Cecilia Tallis: Lola won't be able to testify against him now. He's immune.
[Robbie straightens up and turns away, grappling with a riot of emotions; silence; finally, Briony stands up and speaks, very formal]
Briony - 18 years old: I'm very, very sorry for the terrible distress that I have caused. I'm very, very sorry.
Robbie Turner: Just do as I have asked of you. Write it all down. Just the truth. No rhymes, no embellishments, no adjectives. And then leave us be.
Briony - 18 years old: I will. I promise.
[she leaves abruptly, her eyes brimming with tears]

Briony - 18 years old: Dear Cecilia, Please don't throw this away without reading it. As you'll have seen from the notepaper, I'm here at St. Thomas's, doing my nurses' training. I decided not to take up my place at Cambridge. I decided I wanted to make myself useful, do something practical. But no matter how hard I work, no matter how long the hours, I can't escape from what I did and what it meant, the full extent of which I'm only now beginning to grasp. Cee, please write and tell me we can meet. Your sister, Briony.

Fiona Maguire: It says in the newspaper the army are making "strategic withdrawals."
Briony - 18 years old: Yes, I saw that. It's a euphemism for "retreat."

Robbie Turner: [glares at Briony] What is she doing here?
Cecilia Tallis: She came to speak to me.
Robbie Turner: Oh, yes? What about?
Briony - 18 years old: The terrible thing I did.
[Robbie moves around the room, putting his hands in his pockets and taking them out again, still glaring at Briony]
Robbie Turner: I'll be quite honest with you. I'm torn between breaking your neck here and throwing you down the stairs.
[Briony trembles as she tries to stand her ground]
Robbie Turner: Have you any idea what it's like in jail? Course you don't. Tell me, did it give you pleasure to think of me inside?
Briony - 18 years old: No.
Robbie Turner: But you did nothing about it.
Briony - 18 years old: No.
Robbie Turner: Do you think I assaulted your cousin?
Briony - 18 years old: No.
Robbie Turner: Did you think it then?
Briony - 18 years old: Yes, yes and no. I wasn't certain.
Robbie Turner: And what's made you so certain now?
Briony - 18 years old: Growing up.
Robbie Turner: Growing up?
Briony - 18 years old: I was thirteen.
Robbie Turner: How old do you have to be before you know the difference between right and wrong? Do you have to be eighteen? Do you have to be eighteen before you can bring yourself to own up to a lie? There are soldiers of eighteen old enough to be left to die on the side of the road! Did you know that?
Briony - 18 years old: Yes.
Robbie Turner: Five years ago you didn't care about telling the truth. You and all your family, you just assumed that for all my education, I was still little better than a servant, still not to be trusted. Thanks to you, they were able to close ranks and throw me to the fucking wolves!
[Robbie appears as though he is about to push Briony out the window that she is backing up to, but Cecilia intervenes]
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie! Robbie, don't! Please! Look at me, Robbie! Look at me! Come back! Come back to me!
[Cecilia kisses Robbie gently and lingeringly on the lips while Briony looks away]

[last lines]
Older Briony: So, my sister and Robbie were never able to have the time together they both so longed for... and deserved. Which ever since I've... ever since I've always felt I prevented. But what sense of hope or satisfaction could a reader derive from an ending like that? So in the book, I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I'd like to think this isn't weakness or... evasion... but a final act of kindness. I gave them their happiness.