Liberal Humanist Features in Leavis’s Essay on Othello
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Liberal Humanist features in Leavis’s essay on Othello
Liberal humanism is a traditional way of doing English. We have all been instilled and programmed to do English in a traditional way without even realizing it. The values and beliefs which forms English remains hidden in the theory of Liberal humanism. F.R Leavis was a preacher of the traditional values of liberal humanism. His essay on Othello namely “Diabolic intellect and the noble hero: or the sentimentalist’s Othello” is essentially an attack on A.C Bradley’s criticism on Othello namely “The Shakesperean tragedy” for not having a liberal humanist approach towards the play “Othello” in order to critically analyze it. Instead of analyzing the play adopting the Liberal Humanist approach, Bradley’s criticism is based on his own sentimental preconceptions which Leavis does not approve of.
Bradley’s interpretations are shaped by a number of presuppositions and his expectations towards the text. He is using the approach followed by literary theory where preconceptions govern the way u interpret where as for liberal humanists “words on page” or the “text” without any indulgence in preconceived ideas govern the way you interpret. It is on the basis of this liberal humanist feature that Leavis writes almost the whole essay and it is from here that other liberal humanist features stem from which can be found in the essay.
The foremost liberal humanist feature is focusing on the “text” also known as “on sight close reading”. A careful verbal analysis is needed for instance the shifts in tone by Shakespeare in order to reveal the intricately woven threads of language and to bring forth the hidden ideas or realities by reading between the lines without the interference of preconceptions and in Bradley’s case “sentimental preconception” due to which Bradley fails to see the true picture(Leavis 139). In other words, Bradley with his preconceptions also violates the tenth tenet of liberal humanism which says “the job...