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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At the most elementary level of the narrative , they have accumulated a moral
debt by gambling with their heavenly reward . All of this punishment must be
explicit in order to make evident the justice that governs the universe , if not the
affairs of ...
Meanwhile Tom , who anticipates no reward for his love and kindness through
poetic justice , has the reward of a happiness that he has earned for himself
through a life of forgiving kindness . The organization of Martin Chuzzlewit has ...
But his rewards buy nothing and his blows cannot be felt . ... The true privilege of
Fable - land is not to punish the unsavories and reward the delectables , but to be
able to render in detail the generally invisible motives and influences that move ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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