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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Punishment and Forgiveness John Robert Reed. ine love — as distinguished
from affection and regard — though his is a hopeless and therefore nobler
emotion than that of young Martin Chuzzlewit , whose love is true , faithful , and
As he was determinedly uncharitable in life , the conversion of an intended
benevolent institution into a nuisance after his death is poetic justice indeed , and
also a statement of his true nature . If the good characters in Hard Times can do
Like most Thackeray characters , he has faults , but Esmond , like Dobbin ,
approaches a true gentlemanly character . By exploiting the similarities and
differences between Esmond and Steele , the narrator makes clear his purpose
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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