The Affective Fallacy is yet another New Critic topic set forth by Wimsatt and Beardsley. Previously, we learned about the Intentional Fallacy, which is all about how the author’s intent of their work does not matter when it comes to the overall meaning of the text. The Affective Fallacy deals with the emotions that a reader may have while reading a poem (or other text), and how a reader’s emotional response ultimately doesn't matter either. That the work itself is independent and holds its own critical meaning without any emotional projection.The article states that: "The Affective Fallacy is a confusion between a poem and its results (what it is and what it does)" (31). The Affective Fallacy points out that in order to come to any kind of conclusion about a text the critic can't have any kind of blurred personal interpretation.
In Wimsatt and Beardsley’s article, they talk about word choice and how certain words can have their definitive meaning, and a suggestive meaning. The suggestive meaning is what can give a reader an emotional response or connection. They use the example of the word athlete. How, by definition, it just means a person who plays sports. But people tend to think of it as meaning a tall, slender male. This is the emotive response to the word, which means “there is no parallel distinction between meaning and suggestion” (33). So, no matter what you feel while reading, if the words are so beautiful and they move you and your soul lights up, Wimsatt and Beardsley want you to lock that up. No crying, no connections, nothing but objectivity.
My art for the Affective Fallacy is pretty straight forward. Just a heart with a lock, a reminder that Wimsatt and Beardsley want you to lose that key which allows you to get to your emotions and feelings while you play New Critic. Emotions and New Criticism are not friends, kids.