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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rapidly toward its close , Dick plays out a role often reserved for Dickens ' central
characters . Like Oliver Twist , Martin Chuzzlewit , Pip , and Arthur Clennam , to
name a few prominent examples , Dick falls into an illness which functions as a ...
Dickens , through his narrative voices , openly takes sides among his characters ;
we generally have no difficulty distinguishing the good from the bad . In Our
Mutual Friend , for example , he dismisses much of the waterside population as
than in character . Going a step further , we might consider that by concentrating
upon the elaboration of character Thackeray is experimenting with a means of
diminishing the force of linear plot , of testing fiction ' s power to be effective
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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