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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Another scene associated with Satis House reinforces the picture of Pip as in
some obscure way guilty for his behavior . He has fought Herbert Pocket and
been spattered by his blood . “ The pale young gentleman ' s nose had stained
When he meets with honorable behavior — as in a Steele or an Addison — he
values the behavior itself , not the rank of the individual . Indeed , exalted as the
individual may be , and as worthy of commendation for his achievements ,
10 In a novel excusing the inferior morality of the past , a real man arises out of
that “ immoral " time as a model of human behavior . Devoted to a high cause , he
places forgiveness over punishment and depends more upon affection than ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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