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 subversion of Christian principles through viewing life in terms of economic
advantage , the perversion of natural affection through selfishness , and the
inversion of Christian virtues through outright transgression are interconnected in
Perverted as Mrs . Brown ' s values are , this scene emphasizes her genuine
affection for her daughter while dramatizing Dombey ' s indifference to his
daughter as a person , rather than merely as an extension of the family pride .
Edith also ...
The wicked characters retain an important trait missing in many of Dickens '
villains - family affection . The Murdstones support one another and believe that
they are doing what is right and just . Steerforth and his mother have a strong
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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