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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3 These three women represent very different versions of the consequences of
sexual license . Nancy has never had a chance , yet still has not lost all of the
original woman in her , which suggests that the original pattern is good in all of us
He is often harsh on women ' s vanity and cruelty ( especially to their own sex ) ,
but his best models of virtue are also ... Entirely misguided in his affection for an
unattractive young woman , he is willingly ensnared into marrying her after she ...
Dobbin is punished for the " selfishness " of wanting no more than a glimpse of
the woman he has selflessly assigned to another man . His punishment is to feel
longing and pity for that woman ' s suffering . It is a strange world in which ...
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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