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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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 ...
( 47 ) When Arthur asks his mother if there is any reparation for which the family is
responsible , she replies with the opposing question : Have I not made reparation
in this room these fifteen years ? At which point the narrator steps in to ...
Accordingly , the innocent Blanche later asks Anne and her husband to forgive
her , believing that she has done them wrong ( 195 ) . Granted , these are positive
and conventional approaches to the theme of Christian forgiveness .
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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