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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SEVENTEEN Great Expectations DICKENS WROTE three first - person novels .
In David Copperfield love and mercy overwhelm an impudent but largely
personal evil . David himself makes mistakes and undergoes a therapeutic
Great Expectations ( London : Oxford University Press , 1975 ) , 4 . Subsequent
references appear in the text . 3 . There are many studies of guilt in Great
Expectations , among the most prominent being Edgar Johnson ' s Charles
Dickens : His ...
See , for example , John Lindberg , “ Individual Conscience and Social Injustice
in Great Expectations , ” Assessing ( 186 - 93 ) , and John H . Hagan , Jr . , “ The
Poor Labyrinth : The Theme of Social Injustice in Dickens ' s Great Expectations ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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