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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Meanwhile , his father , Lord Crabs , comes uninvited to Paris to share in
Deuceace ' s earlier booty . The old Lord is far cannier than his unsupportive son
and easily outflanks the youngster . Lord Crabs suggests that Lady Griffin , whom
In a much more explicit instance , the narrator shows how old Lady Kew intends
to form her grandson , Lord Kew , marry him to her liking , and leave him her
money . For the narrator , this is a moral danger for the young man . Have you
( 5 : 497 ) This “ punishment , ” then , though following naturally from Lord Kew ' s
youthful dissipations , now becomes an opportunity for changing his life ,
beginning with an act of forgiveness . Lord Kew ' s mildness and new demeanor
are set ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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