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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The implied author does not permit good characters to execute punishment and
emphasizes the tendency for the wicked to create their own punishments . By the
very intricacy of his plotting , the implied author suggests a pattern of retribution ...
The implied author , however , need not be so scrupulous . ... he has no such
reservations about his implied author , who , by existing extradiegetically outside
and “ above ” the realm of his characters , can see to it that a broader justice ...
Her choice has led Agnes to a purgatorial existence , according to Pendennis ,
and through his judgment the implied author provides us with a narrative
punishment for this sinful woman . He does something similar with Woolcomb ,
the other ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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