Sentimentality

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Mary Magdalene, after a painting by Ary Scheffer: the movement now may seem theatrical and sentimental.

Sentimentality is both a literary device used to make people respond emotionally, but usually in a way more than is needed.[1]

"A sentimentalist", Oscar Wilde wrote, "is one who desires (wants) to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."[2] Yeats wrote, "Rhetoric is fooling others. Sentimentality is fooling yourself."

Sentimental began to be thought of more negatively from the nineteenth century. Before that it had simply meant "feeling", but it began be criticized for its "excessiveness" (too much),[3] and now is about feeling in situations where it is not needed.

References[change | change source]

  1. I. A. Richards gave just such a quantitative definition: "a response is sentimental if it is too great for the occasion." He added, "We cannot, obviously judge that any response is sentimental in this sense unless we take careful account of the situation" (Richards, Practical Criticism, "Sentimentality and inhibition").
  2. Oscar Wilde "De Profundis" 1905; Michael Tanner took the quote to introduce "Sentimentality", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, 77, (1976-77:127-147.
  3. Wilkie 1967, took the example of Henry Clay Work's maudlin lyric of Temperance propaganda, "Come Home, Father".