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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The ressentiment of the underdog rankles long after it has provided the energy
and wiliness to supplant the healthy but unselfconscious master race . As a
consequence , it becomes necessary for good Christians to deny the lust for
power by ...
He is dead , he is dead , the Master is dead , ' said the voice of the Ape Man to
the right of me . ' The House of Pain — there is no House of Pain . ” “ He is not
dead , ” said I , in a loud voice . “ Even now he watches us . " This startled them .
At the center of the novel , then , and anchored in its past , is the abominable
crime of a servant murdering his master out of greed and ambition . Having
murdered his master and a fellow servant , Rudge tells his wife of his crime and
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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