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Purpose Of The Fool Of King Lear

1161 words - 5 pages

The role of a fool, or court jester in the Elizabethan times, was to professionally entertain others, specifically the king. In essence, fools were hired to make mistakes. Fools may have been mentally retarded youths kept for the court's amusement, or more often they were singing, dancing stand up comedians. In Shakespeare'sKing Lear the fool plays many important roles. When Cordelia, Lear's only well-intentioned daughter, is banished from the kingdom Fool immediately assumes her role as Lear's protector. The fool is the king's advocate, honest and loyal and through his use of irony sarcasm and humour he is able to point out Lear's faults. Functioning much as a chorus would in a Greek tragedy, the fool comments on events in the play, the king's actions and acts as Lear's conscience. As he is the only character who is able to confront Lear directly without risk of punishment, he is able to moderate the king's behaviour. He holds dramatic importance by helping the reader and/or Shakespeare's audience to understand what lies benefit the surface of certain actions and events. The Fool plays an essential and necessary role in developing King Lear's character.At the start, King Lear already exemplifies signs of insanity. It may be wise to divide his kingdom for only that reason. Although, not trusting Cordelia is a sign of insanity for she is the only daughter that truly loved him. During entire time the Fool attempts to delay Lear's insanity and point out those reckless actions. Although he tries to prevent Lear from madness, be does not directly tell him he is going insane, "[t]hen I prithee by merry; thy wit shall not go slipspod" (I. V. 11-12). The remains at Lear's side even though Lear's insanity causes him discomfort.Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, Blow,You cataracts and hurricanes, spoutTill you have drenched our steeples, drown the cocks!You sulphurous and thought-executing fines,vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,Singe my white head; and thou all-shaking thunder,…(III. II. 1-5)The Fools proves he believes his well-being is not important to helping the King, confirming his loyalty and how much the king trusts the fool.The Fool resumes Cordelia's role as the child at her absence. This acts as a constant reminder of Lear's foolishness in banishing her. The Fool and Lear share a close relationship, opposing to the many relationships that turn sour. Lear treats the fool with affection, as well as providing him protection just as if he were his own. He even exhibits his parental instincts in Act III scene II, "Come on my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold?" (III. II. 69). When Lear is unable to hear the truth from most of his advisiors, the Fool warns about Goneril and Regan, "Truth's a dog must to kennel. He must be whipped out when the Lady BRrach may stand by th'fire and stink" (I. IV. 110-112). The most evident association between Condelia and the Fool, though, is made at the end of the play. Lear loses Cordelia and...

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