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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Edith also feels genuine maternal affection for Florence , once more contrasting
with Dombey ' s lack of feeling , an obvious failure on Mr . Dombey ' s part that
hastens Edith ' s movement from indifference toward dislike and even hatred for ...
Once more Dombey incarcerates himself . ... The secret in his breast that once
led him to distrust his daughter now takes on an ominous character as he
becomes a brooding wraith , pacing about with its hand in its breast , clenching a
All of Mrs . Clennam ' s machinations have brought only suffering ; once she has
been found out and her actions brought into the open , she herself can see them
in a different light . She has all along realized that there is one truly innocent ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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