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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And most certainly it teaches the readiness of forgiveness to the truly repentant .
Moreover , that forgiveness is forthcoming before repentance takes the form of
virtuous behavior . It is a forgiveness granted while a man “ is yet afar off ” (
In fact , it is precisely his struggle against repentance that has made his life a hell
. Repentance would presumably have brought him peace . Rudge is obviously
capable of feeling guilt . He has a conscience in spite of himself , but he has not ...
But Arlene Jackson notes that “ Florence has need of repentance , for she has
rejected her father , and at a most critical time ” ( 115 ) . Nancy Klenk Hill justifies
the psychological correctness of Florence ' s asking forgiveness of her father , not
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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