Among the myriad of reasons, for justifiably, awarding to William Shakespeare, the title of, the greatest playwright and poet, of Western Civilization, is the observation that his abundant plays and poetry, in addition to their creative and artistic genius, contain valid observations on the universal and eternal nature of man. In his, “As You Like It,” Act II, Scene VII, his protagonist, famously, proclaims: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women, merely players.”

We have entitled this mini-essay, “Dramatis Personae,” (in the original Latin, “Masks of the Drama”) which, as known, identifies the cast of players in a theatrical presentation. We have done so that, with the aid of the selected name’s, analogical utility, we can demonstrate and comment, on an a specific, and questionable human societal dynamic.

If one were willing to, metaphorically, press the “hold” button, on his mundane, daily routine, and meditatively, consider his every day, ambient societal dynamics, he might well discover common behaviors, which ostensibly, appear to be acceptable, even convenient, but, on further examination, are essentially objectionable. One such particularly unjustified dynamic, is the reductive and insensitive designation and assignment of role, persona, or predictable inclinations, to others. The practice seems to be the meritless, product, of ignorance, subjective perception, social convenience, or perhaps, an unjustified projection, from a singular, experience.

It would seem that, a single anecdotal, unique, act might conceivably, result in an erroneous and unfair, albeit, societally shared, perceptive determination, concerning an individual’s characteristic persona. This principle would, similarly, and logically, appear to be applicable, to generous, empathic, behavior, as well as those acts, perceived as selfish and unkind; however, for some reason, it would seem that such reductionist judgments are more often inclined to be made, by human nature, in situations concerning perceived, disgraceful, behavior.

Before pushing on, we would emphatically, declare, our definitive opposition, on moral principle, and otherwise, to the practice of assigning, personal traits, stereotypic type, or inclination for “predictable” behavior (roles), to any person, based on any individually perceived act, or worse, based upon reprehensible, hearsay advice.

The testimony of the witness to the signature event, may be incorrect, motivated subjectively, or otherwise inaccurate, the determinative action might have been subject to misinterpretation, or misunderstanding, and the account of the event may be exaggerated, erroneous, or, perhaps, colored, by personal animus or bigotry. The same limitations as to validity, can be applied to reportedly, attributable statements.

Yet, evaluations of others, are all too commonly made, based upon an episodic or anecdotal event, which, may conceivably, be inconsistent, with the principles, normally operative, in the mind of the person being misjudged. The potential for life experiences is virtually unlimited, and one’s response thereto, may often be the result of a singularly upsetting stimulus, and not representative, of his customary predilections.

So much for any defensive claims of accuracy, for such reductionist, personal judgments as, purportedly, being justified by empirical observation.

In more generalized principle, absent personal confirmation, the willing concurrence, with a community shared determination as to persona, is no less than a shameless exercise in injustice. It functionally demonstrates, a neurotic desire for acceptance, by means of an effortless, and thoughtless, complicity with the advised, “folk wisdom.” The interest of human justice and basic morality, encourages the reasonable person, to make his own estimation of his fellow man, in reliance upon his own personal and regular, empirical experience. Stated otherwise, the evaluation of others, should, eternally, be based on existent reality, as opposed to, simply, an insecure and irresponsible, tribal acquiescence, with communicated societal lore.

In the plays of William Shakespeare, the brilliantly created characters, portrayed in their assigned roles, as specified in the work’s, dramatis personae, will, predictably, live up to their famous theatrical stereotypes. In the non-theatrical realm, by contrast, the judicious assignment of character and persona, should, be the product, of consistent empirical reality, and not the irresponsible and potentially hurtful, demonstration of a too- willing, compliance, with the prevailing, societal scuttlebutt.







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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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