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Written by Rachel G
(10/25/2010 5:19 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Shades of Cruelty, penned by Robbin
I don't think we disagree in essentials Robbin. I do not mean to gentle Mary's behaviour towards Maria and agree that it falls within the dictionary definitions of cruelty - she certainly isn't on the side of the angels here (if ever)!
But 'cruel' is a word that can be applied to such a wide range of human behaviours, from what one might term 'petty malice' at one end of the spectrum to utterly horrific acts at the other. I feel that by using it too freely to label the smaller-scale bad stuff, there is a risk of devaluing the word - of it losing it's 'punch', so to speak. I personally prefer to reserve 'cruel' for the nastier stuff.
For example, I have no problem at all calling Mrs Norris' treatment of young Fanny 'cruel'; her malevolence, compounded by the imbalance of power, really sickens me - these days we would call it child abuse.
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