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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rushed from his mouth and nose , and dyed the grass a deep dark red , as he
staggered and fell . He had ruptured a blood vessel : and he was a dead man
before his son could raise him . ' ( 81 ) As with the father in " The Drunkard ' s
I must travel my dark road alone , and it will lead me where it will . From day to
day , sometimes from hour to hour , I do not see the way before my guilty feet .
This is the earthly punishment I have brought upon myself . I bear it , and I hide it
Enough for him , that when all seemed dark , he was about to be returned to
Parliament by the father of Edith , and his vanquished rival who was to bite the
dust before him was the author of all his misfortunes . Love , Vengeance , Justice
, the ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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