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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Dickens is willing to let Tony thus directly punish Stiggins in a retributive fashion
because he wants the sense of direct punishment to be reinforced , as it is so
vividly in the interpolated tales , but he also wants it to be done in an “ acceptable
Being genuinely good , Oliver wants nothing to do with the actual punishing of
Fagin , but the implied author has no scruple about exhibiting the wretch ' s
sufferings and thereby inflicting punishment upon him . This is a clear instance of
What Dickens wants in Dombey is an ideal case for punishment - a willed bad
deed , in this case protracted for years — that is nonetheless accessible to
redemption , hence the suppressed bad conscience . Dombey is proud of his
family and ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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