Importance of the Fool in King Lear
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. The character of the Fool 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…
…y reveals much of that friendly connection that the audience is asking for. Therefore, for all these reasons, I believe that the character of the Fool should not be taken out of the play even though it doesn’t have a role in the two major plots of the play.
Works Cited and Consulted
Bradley, A.C. “King Lear.” 20Lh Century Interpretations of King Lear. Ed. Jane Adelman. New Jersev; Prentice-Hall, 1978.
Colie, C.L. “The Fool in King Lear.” 20th Century Interpretations of King Lear. Ed. Jane Adelman. Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1997.
Hunter, Robert G. Shakespeare and the Mystery of God’s Judgments. University of Georgia Press, 1996.
Knights, L.C. “On the Fool”. 20th Century Interpretations of King Lear. Ed. Jane Adelman. New Jersey; Prentice-Hall, 1978.
Snyder, Susan. “King Lear and the Prodigal Son.” Shakespeare Quarterly. Autumn 1966. pps. 361-369.