The small world of shakespeare's plays

James Stiller, Daniel Nettle, Robin I. M. Dunbar
2003 Human Nature  
Drama, at least according to the Aristotelian view, is effective inasmuch as it successfully mirrors real aspects of human behavior. This leads to the hypothesis that successful dramas will portray fictional social networks that have the same properties as those typical of human beings across ages and cultures. We outline a methodology for investigating this hypothesis and use it to examine ten of Shakespeare's plays. The cliques and groups portrayed in the plays correspond closely to those
more » ... h have been observed in spontaneous human interaction, including in hunter-gatherer societies, and the networks of the plays exhibit "small world" properties of the type which have been observed in many human-made and natural systems. In Hamlet, Prince Hamlet tells the actors that the purpose of a play is "as 'twere, to hold the mirror up to Nature." He is thus espousing the Aristotelian view that drama functions by mimesis, the accurate simulation of
doi:10.1007/s12110-003-1013-1 pmid:26190273 fatcat:iu4efgycmza5nexfwvaedphogu