Synonyms of cruelty in English:
In his essay “Notes on the English Character,” E. M. Forster casually observes that brutality is considered a German trait and cruelty a Spanish one, just as superficiality is thought to be an American trait and hypocrisy a British one. I understand well enough superficiality and hypocrisy. But I would dearly love to know what Forster thought the difference was between brutality and cruelty. Let us say that either word implies the inflicting of pain. Is brutality akin to ruthlessness, the inflicting of pain as the most effective means to achieve stipulated ends? And is cruelty related to sadism, where the viciousness is done for its own sake and not for an imagined advantage?David Lehman
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