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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Audrey Jaffe notes that David ' s reaction in this scene feeds upon a more
general anxiety in the narrative as a whole . To be watched or scripted by others
is the principal situation David tries to avoid . In this scene Uriah is forcing David
to play ...
In a similar but far more lenient scene the good Frederick witnesses the passing
of his weak and foolish brother . As the novel moves toward its close , a series of
such displacements occurs , eliminating folly and wickedness , and replacing ...
... Hyman , 1988 ) , 109 . J . M . Rignall regards these parallel carriage scenes as
signifying an escape from history and from ... He credits the death scene as an
extremely significant feature of Dickens ' enterprise in the novel . “ No novel , ” he
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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