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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covering his face with one hand , and hurriedly placing the other in his mother ' s ,
walk [ s ] away with her ” ( 198 ) . This stern vignette nonetheless suggests the
potentially redemptive power of love , forgiveness , and remorse . " The Black Veil
The tool has turned in the villain ' s hand . The agency for his hatred fatally
wounds him and , with a definite closure characteristic of melodrama , brings
Ralph back to the source of his sin for consummate punishment at his own hand .
Rachel is conscious of her mixed motives , and soon after her outbreak returns to
take Esmond ' s hand and apologize . “ ' I beg your pardon , Henry , ” she said ; “ I
spoke very unkindly . I have no right to interfere with you — with your — ' " ( 7 ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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