Shakespeare and the interhuman: The mimetic chrysalis of Buber's between

Elizabeth Burford Lang, University of Texas at El Paso


Shakespeare's plays survive and thrive from age to age in large part due to the incomparably mimetic "rightness" of his characters. However, the various schools of post-modern literary criticism - New Historicist, Cultural Materialist, most variations of cultural theory as applied to literature - definitively deny the possibility of an essential humanity, the very concept on which discussions of character and mimesis must stand. The work of Martin Buber contributes a means of moderating that conversation. Buber, a self-described "believing" humanist, sought and achieved a semantic framework capable of describing the intersection of man, fellow man, and spirit while obviating insofar as possible the complication of any specific religious or ideological identification. Such a system opens a channel for the examination of dramatized humanity in Shakespeare. While many scholars and critics have presumed or pretended to "know" the meanings of the plays, have practiced exegesis on a character, a play, or the full canon, this paper is concerned with applying Buber's terms and their implications toward a useful understanding of the actions, speeches, and implied human "being" represented in Shakespeare's dramatic characters.

Subject Area

Philosophy|British and Irish literature

Recommended Citation

Lang, Elizabeth Burford, "Shakespeare and the interhuman: The mimetic chrysalis of Buber's between" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1461287.