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 danger with this pattern is splendidly , if comically , illustrated by those Laurel
and Hardy episodes when such a pattern of destructive retaliation , beginning
with something as trivial as the inadvertent damaging of a shrub , may escalate ...
Of all the other characters for whom this pattern is an option , only Tattycoram
follows it out completely . By committing an error , Arthur also becomes
responsive to Amy ' s love and forgiveness , so that her powers , too , can for
once be fully ...
In a pattern familiar in so many of Thackeray ' s tales , Titmarsh now hits bottom in
the Fleet Prison , and when he is released from prison he finds himself and his
wife impoverished . Their child is born and dies . Titmarsh pawns his diamond to
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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