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The Fool in King Lear

The Fool in King Lear

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Published by AbdulRehman
This essay is very helpful for M.A. English students. shakespeare's masterpiece is his play King Lear. It is a part of study guide of King Lear.
This essay is very helpful for M.A. English students. shakespeare's masterpiece is his play King Lear. It is a part of study guide of King Lear.

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Published by: AbdulRehman on Sep 11, 2009
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06/11/2013

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THE FOOL IN “KING LEAR”:
A fool is generally a person who is wanting in wisdom, judgment and sense. Such personswere the part of the ancient courts of the kings. Their main purpose was to entertain theking and the courtiers with their funny remarks. But in Shakespeare “The Fool” is a titleused for a person who is witty in folly. His purpose is to amuse the audience and point outthe follies of the king with his witty remarks. He is the last, and at the same time, thenoblest creation of the kind in Shakespeare; he is by far the most intellectual and noblest of his Fools.Although all Shakespearean tragedies are very famous for their tragic heroes, yet someother major or minor characters have their own part to play. The Fool in “King Lear” isone of the most important characters, and a mysterious one. F.S.Boas has observed:“Unlike his fellows in other plays, he is nameless, with no more distinguishing badge of individuality than plain ‘Fool’. He is scarcely a person, a unit to be counted. He is awandering voice--- the voice of Lear’s conscience, taking outward form in this grotesqueyet wistful figure.” Fool is the only character in the play whose wit keeps the things warmin the play. His tongue has undoubtedly the sharper edge. In spite of all his witty remarkswe come to listen from his mouth the pathetic dialogues also. Fool in “King Lear” has beenhighly praised by one critic after another. A. C. Bradley remarks, “Fool is one of Shakespeare’ triumphs in “King Lear” adding that without him we will hardly know thetragedy.” He is also regarded as the “soul of pathos in a comic masquerade.” In spite of allhis importance, he seems to be out side the play and does not contribute much to proceedinto the story or action of the play. He never affects the action. Even we do not know hisname; age, whether he is mad or sane. The Fool is introduced in act-I and scene IV whileLear s spending his first month after giving away his entire kingdom to his two daughters.The fool appears, offering his cap to Kent: “Let me hire him too: here is my coxcomb.”Perhaps what is really meant is that the fool represents what would have been Lear’sconscience if he had one.He is really a fool but a privileged person. The Fool keeps reminding Lear of the folly thathe has committed. For, instance he goes on to recite a few verses the meaning of which isthat Lear was an absolute and bitter fool for having given away his entire estate. WhenLear asks about Fool’s habit for reciting verses he replies:“I have used it, Nuncle, ever since thou mad’st thyDaughters thy mothers; for when thou gayest themThe rod and putest down thine own breeches.”He attacks the king with his short songs and epigrams. He ironically says that the king hasbanished two of his daughters, and did the third a blessing against her will; he had little witin his bald crown when he gave away his golden one away. In a fit of anger at the rudebehaviour of her daughter, Lear asks if anyone can. tell who he is, the Fool ironically says”Lear’s shadow” (Lear without power).There may be another explanation of the function of the Foot. When we recall thetempestuous character of the king, the Fool throughout is saying things that would causesuch an outbreak of temper had they been said by any one else in the play. It is onlybecause they originate with the Fool that Lear is able to control himself. Sometimes his talk is too rude to be borne as he says:“Prithee, Nuncle, keep a school master thatCan teach thy Fool to lie: I would fainLearn to lie.”These words offend Lear and he warns him not to talk in this irresponsible manner andthreatens to whip him as: “And you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipp’d.” But in spite of thisthreat the Fool goes on talking in this manner and evokes king’s anger. Lear’s Fool is atragic chorus on the action. He is not without worldly wisdom. He realizes what ishappening to the king while Lear is still entirely oblivious of his loss of power. Thedeflating common sense of the fool contrasts with Edgar’s assumed madness and addsgrotesque comedy to Lear’s ravings. When the king suspects that Edgar’s cause of 

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Your writing is easy but more informative
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Beautiful essay on fool!
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