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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This scene is comic because Nicholas himself as yet knows nothing about the
handsome young woman he feels impelled to defend and therefore has no right
to that office . That Nicholas ' violent impulse is not endorsed by the narrative is ...
Of course , the most serious transgression of which young women are generally
guilty in Dickens ' novels is sexual imprudence . Three young women are
considered guilty of this offense in David Copperfield , but each is considered to
He is spruced up and “ put into clean linen of the stiffest character , like a young
penitent into sackcloth , and was trussed up in my tightest and fearfullest suit . I
was then delivered over to Mr . Pumblechook , who formally received me as if he
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Attitudes Toward Punishment and Forgiveness
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