Dickens and Thackeray: Punishment and Forgiveness
Attitudes toward punishment and forgiveness in English society of the nineteenth century came, for the most part, out of Christianity. In actual experience the ideal was not often met, but in the literature of the time the model was important. For novelists attempting to tell exciting and dramatic stories, violent and criminal activities played an important role, and, according to convention, had to be corrected through poetic justice or human punishment. Both Dickens' and Thackeray's novels subscribed to the ideal, but dealt with the dilemma it presented in slightly different ways.
At a time when a great deal of attention has been directed toward economic production and consumption as the bases for value, Reed's well-documented study reviving moral belief as a legitimate concern for the analysis of nineteenth-century English texts is particularly illuminating.
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But , although Christianity emphasizes forgiveness over punishment , Victorian
society made only token efforts to follow that ... world as a source of pleasure and
delight from the truc Christian , whose attention should be directed elsewhere .
37 Christ is the chief model of forgiveness and all of humankind is obliged to
imitate his charity . The sermon “ Christian Forgiveness ” instructs us on its proper
application . Robertson begins by noting that “ Christian forgiveness is not the ...
Mostly the book examines acts of treachery , rebellion , and cruelty , and most of
what passes for Christian spirit is false or a mockery . K . J . Fielding sees the
novel as an expression of Dickens ' own frustration . “ Strongly as Dickens
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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