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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Much of the action of Dombey and Son is designed to position Dombey where he
will feel the full weight of his offense . The main thrust of the narrative is to burden
Dombey with a heavy debt of injustice to Florence . His condescending and ...
James asks John if he has anything to complain of in Dombey and John says no .
The Manager asks if John believes he has been kept on in his job “ ' as a cheap
example , and a famous instance of the clemency of Dombey and Son ...
( 388 ) When Edith , humiliated by Dombey in his efforts to make her subservient
to his wishes , warns him more than once to forbear , he responds by intensifying
his demands for submission . Ironically , it is Edith ' s love for Florence that brings
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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