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King Lear - Fool's character

Uploaded by *unaverse* on May 11, 2001

Many directors argue over the importance of the character of the Fool in the play. Discuss whether or not you feel the Fool is essential to the play or whether or not the character could be removed without damaging the overall impact. Make a reference to the text to support your ideas.

William Shakespeare’s genius came from how closely he intertwined the two seemingly mutually exclusive realms to appeal to all socio-economic groups in his audience. The character of the Fool provides the closest intercourse of the two realms between King Lear’s royalty and Poor Tom’s poverty, while still maintaining their separation. The Fool's role in King Lear was to counteract the King's follies in order to bring him to his senses. With his honesty, wit, and clever wordplay that interweave foreshadowing and practical advice, the Fool entertains not only the King, but the audience as well, and brings some light and humour into this tragedy. All the characters in King Lear, apart from the Fool, are interconnected and of great importance to the story of King Lear and his daughters and the story of Edmund, Edgar and Gloucester. The character of the Fool did not have influence over Lear’s decision to divide the kingdom, nor did the Fool have any connection with the subplot. Perhaps, for this reason many directors argue over the importance of his character. One should be able to realize that the presence of the Fool did not influence the overall impact of the play and that the two major plots would have occurred with him or without him. Personally, I believe that his character should not be excluded from the play as this would damage the balance of tragedy versus comedy that was deliberately set up by Shakespeare, which would result in a loss of audience.

There is a saying that goes, "Only fools and children tell the truth". Shakespeare does a great job of illustrating this saying through the Fool's character. The Fool is being loyal and honest to his master Lear no matter how painful the truth may sound. In Act 1, Scene 4, in the introduction of his character, the Fool is playing with his hat and tells the king, “…thou must needs wear my coxcomb,” stating that the king is a fool for dividing his kingdom in such a way after a ridiculous love test (line 101). In the same scene the Fool...

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Uploaded by:   *unaverse*

Date:   05/11/2001

Category:   King Lear

Length:   5 pages (1,148 words)

Views:   2319

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