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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NOTES 1 . Charles Dickens , Hard Times ( London : Oxford University Press ,
1970 ) , 15 . 2 . Mark Lambert , in Dickens and the Suspended Quotation ( New
Haven : Yale University Press , 1981 ) , characterizes the narrator ' s language ...
Dickens ' own working notes for chapter 31 of Book Two include the sentence , “
Set the darkness and vengeance against the New Testament ” ( Dickens '
Working Notes for His Novels , ed . Harry Stone [ Chicago : The University of
Barry Westberg also notes that “ who the narrator is makes all the difference , ”
since Mr . Pirrip can amuse himself and us at Pip ' s expense as no other narrator
could without seeming heartless or impertinent ( The Confessional Fictions of ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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