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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... moral indictment , warning that couples and individuals “ who fall into exclusive
habits of self - indulgence , and forget their natural sympathy and close
connexion with everybody and everything in the world around them , not only
neglect the ...
Then , as adult narrator , he reflects : “ There has been a time since — I do not
say it lasted long , but it has been — when I have asked myself the question ,
would it have been better for little Em ' ly to have had the waters close above her
A blessing beyond appreciation would be conferred upon mankind , if the tainted
, in whose weakness or wickedness these virulent disorders are bred , could be
instantly seized and placed in close confinement ( not to say summarily ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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