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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Infanticide , to us a hideous crime , appears to change its value with changing
social needs . ... It does not seem entirely clear to what extent middle - class
values about infanticide were absorbed by the lower classes , but the laws
instituted by ...
Money is power , money is value ; but it may be the power to do good as well as
evil , it may represent the values of charity and kindness as well as selfishness
and pride . Money as such is neutral , but it facilitates malicious or benevolent ...
She is the touchstone of value in this book , apparently born to virtue . ... with
Doyce represents the value of earning one ' s own way and , as he well knows
afterward , his speculating against Doyce ' s injunction is a betrayal of those
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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