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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Thomas Plint , like many other commentators on the subject , argued in Crime in
England , Its Relation , Character , and Extent as developed from 1801 to 1848 (
1851 ) that there existed a separate criminal class , not identifiable with the lower
ital punishment not because he believes in punishing those guilty of crimes , but
because it is a tidy way to dispose of possible informants . If Fagin is sly and ... In
his flight from the scene of the crime he is haunted by Nancy ' s phantom .
But even while Varden is occupied with his personal difficulties , his awareness
of the mysterious stranger ( Rudge ) and his connection with Barnaby and his
mother keeps the central and enabling crime of the narrative present to the
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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