On the Pleasure of Hating
On the Pleasure of Hating is a short story by William Hazlitt that appears within a collection of seven other poems in the novel “Table Talk”. On the Pleasures of Hating was published in 1821. There are originally two volumes to this novel. On the Pleasure of Hating gives the insight of the narrator as he reflects the everyday reality of how people really are. Hazlitt states, “we want an object to let our hate out upon” which is a reflection of himself in which he is saying that we need to hate something so we do not end up hating ourselves.
Form: The form used in On the Pleasure of Hating is a nonfiction essay. A nonfiction essay is a short, nonfiction narrative work of prose literature that is analytic, speculative, or interpretive in nature, dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality, and written from the author’s point of view. On the Pleasure of Hating is seen as an essay because it is written to express Hazlitt’s point of view on the lack of sympathy that people have. For example, on page 189, Hazlitt proceeds to explain that,“We learn to curb our will and keep our overt actions within the bounds of humanity, long before we can subdue our sentiments and imaginations to the same mild tone.”Hazlitt gives this example as he is about to kill a spider. Hazlitt comes to the realization that the spider has done nothing to harm him. Why should he kill the innocent spider if the spider just means to be crawling from one place to another? Hazlitt tries to make the reader comprehend that society is the one that has placed pressure on hating things just to avoid us from hating ourselves.
Themes: Some of the themes present in On the Pleasures of Hating are hatred, lack of empathy, and curiosity. Hazlitt produces these themes by incorporating his own philosophy to everyday situations. Hazlitt states that hatred is the cause of all wrong doings in the world. “The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands; it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.” (pg 192) The main theme presented is how hatred has slowly started to rule our everyday interactions.
Culture/Time Period: Hazlitt wrote On the Pleasures of Hating in 1800’s which was known as the Post-Revolutionary Era. Hazlitt usually wrote humanistic stories because he was not able to express himself socially. Hazlitt focused more on writing about humanistic stories because he was a philosophy teacher. Hazlitt’s teaching methods were the roots for his writings. During this time, Hazlitt also turned to painting to help him express himself. This helped Hazlitt to express himself more. Table-Talk then went on to become one of Hazlitt’s most famous novels.