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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... a preliminary punishment in this world . Though similar situations will occur in
later narratives , this bare - bones presentation is more extreme than later , more
subtle versions ; still , those later narratives include the same basic elements ...
... have his life , ' shouts Harry , brandishing the hanger ( 8 : 55 ) . When Ward
later asks who is to compensate him for this insult , George suggests that ,
although they are only fifteen , the Warrington boys can offer the gentlemanly
This is a device Thackeray used in his later novels , particularly The Newcomes
and The Adventures of Philip , both narrated by Pendennis . But if Thackeray so
benevolently lets his readers know immediately that his hero and his beloved will
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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