Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 150

Being and Time is an expository philosophical work and contains no characters, at least in the typical sense where a distinct subject emerges and is recursively defined through interactions with his or her narrative context. The speaker or persona that projects the discourse is Heidegger himself.

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It can be argued that the book obtains some of its rhetorical power from denying readers any narrative characterization: the book itself is a meditation on the contingency and irony of being, which Heidegger calls Dasein. Heidegger is skeptical about the essential being-ness of any individual and argues instead that the formation of a subject, including anything we might call one's "character," is sourced exclusively from the stream of perceptual fragments that moves constantly through the life of each person. Proceeding from this axiom, Heidegger likely conceives of the characters of literary works as symbolic projections of the author's mental models built over time.

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