Analysis

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

Liber Amoris by by William Hazlitt is a recounting of Hazlitt's infatuation with a young woman, who is the daughter of his landlord. Hazlitt engages in an affair with the young woman, Sarah, while he is renting a room in her home. While Sarah enjoys the physical intimacy between herself and Hazlitt, it is clear by Hazlitt's own recounting that she is not interested in establishing a deep emotional bond and certainly not in marrying Hazlitt. However, the author is enamored with Sarah and refuses to see the truth of the situation.

There is certainly a clear element of misogyny in that Hazlitt refuses to address the actual desires and thoughts of Sarah and instead paints his own picture of who she is. This image fits who he wants her to be, and it is with this image that he continually attempts to convince Sarah to marry him. While the two are separate when Hazlitt goes to Scotland, Hazlitt sends long, impassioned letters to Sarah. She rarely responds to the messages, and when she does, she sends brief replies. It is clear that Sarah does not share the same emotional desire that Hazlitt does, and yet, in his refusal to fully humanize her, he continues to make advances upon the young woman.

When Hazlitt finally accepts that fact that Sarah is not interested in marrying him, and is, in fact, seeing other people in addition to sharing physical intimacy with him, Hazlitt ends the affair. He becomes contemptuous of Sarah, and in a typical misogynistic fashion, further dehumanizes her by declaring that she is nothing more than someone who seduces men and then tosses them aside. While the author clearly positions himself as the mature person at the end of this affair, his refusal to respect that Sarah has her own desires that differ from his does not paint him as emotionally mature or responsible in any way.

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