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
Hence the one important mystery that the narrative withholds from us throughout
Nickleby is the secret of Smike ' s origins . Fittingly , Smike , the innocent medium
for Ralph ' s acts of hatred against Nicholas , turns out to be Ralph ' s own son .
It is important to this scene that Pecksniff himself undergoes no such educative
experience . Though people all around him are asking forgiveness , he never
acknowledges his guilt . As we have already seen , he insists instead upon ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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