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 it was not long before the Religious Tract Society ( RTS ) and the Society for
the Promotion of Christian Knowledge ( SPCK ) were consciously trying to
provide religiously oriented children ' s fiction to replace romances and fairy tales
3 Barnaby Rudge is the titular figure of this novel not because he is its chief
character , but because he embodies the contradiction of the society he inhabits .
John Forster felt that in Barnaby Dickens intended “ to show what sources of
They are the creditors of society at large , or of some individual or institution . This
moral indemnification is often secret because it is involuntary . Rigaud , for
example , does not broadcast his intention to seek the payment of revenge ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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