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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Nonetheless , legal determination of guilt for the crime of suicide could have
important consequences , and Victorian juries were generally reluctant to bring a
verdict of felo de se , perhaps because they wished to avoid those consequences
A family that values pride and wealth above natural affection will eventually suffer
the inevitable consequences of that unwise investment . Similarly , a system of
law that overlooks the misfortunes of the poor while scrutinizing and punishing ...
vated deeds and the consequences of his genial attributes upon his suffering
family . ... and thus constitutes a " historical " or " public " moral position for which ,
at the public level , retribution is the natural consequence of neglect and injustice
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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