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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Now , however , these images suggest self - imprisonment more than the desire
to restrain others . ... This change in his attitude suggests that David as narrator
has had sufficient time to reflect on his experiences with the Murdstones and to ...
20 To suggest this much is also to suggest an awareness by the narrator that
novels cannot do all that one might hope . ... secrecy is sensation ; the secret is
tame " ( 132 ) , and suggests that the machinery of melodrama discloses the hand
By the very intricacy of his plotting , the implied author suggests a pattern of
retribution that extends beyond the novel ' s text and encompasses it . This
suggestion is magnified by the use of prolepsis , especially when what is foretold
is the ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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