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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Sir Walter Moberly states that the most important question about punishment is —
Is it deserved ? Not all punishment is just . If a person who has committed no
wrong is nonetheless made to suffer , he or she suffers an unjust punishment , or
In Plato and Punishment ( Berkeley : University of California Press , 1981 ) , Mary
Margaret Mackenzie shows some similarities and many differences between
classical Greek and modern views of punishment . For example , in Homer , what
At the primitive level , punishment may be nothing more than a form of retaliation .
If you break my window , I break yours . The danger with this pattern is splendidly
, if comically , illustrated by those Laurel and Hardy episodes when such a ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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