ar helpedhim to regain hi throne. Shakespeare
ar King Lear essaysThe Fools in King Lear William Shakespeare’s play King Lear tells the tale of the maincharacter who divides his kingdom between his older daughters, Goeneril andRegan, and disinherits his youngest daughter, Cordelia. The action leads tocivil strife, his insanity, and his ultimate death. King Lear can be viewedas a great illustration about the struggle between good and evil. Perhapsbetter than any of Shakespeare’s other tragedies, King Lear displays theconcept of evil most strongly. It is believed that King Lear is an expansion of a British legend.
The legend is as follows: Lear, King of Britain decided in his old age todivide his kingdom among his three daughters based on their expressions oflove for him. His two eldest daughters overwhelmed their father withexpressions of love, but the youngest told her father that she loved herfather as a daughter should. Enraged at his youngest daughter’s reply, Leardrove her into exile and divided the kingdom between his two eldestdaughters. However, his two eldest daughters infuriated him with theircruel treatment thereafter.
Hence, the king went in search of his youngestdaughter. His youngest daughter had married the king of France while shewas gone. His youngest daughter returned with him two Britain and helpedhim to regain hi throne. Shakespeare utilized this British legend to create what is arguablyone of the greatest tragedies of all time. Shakespeare took this Britishlegend and conceptualized it to fit his audience.
Shakespeare added thecharacter of the Fool as a tool in better understanding Lear. The Foolexists as a metaphorical device in the King’s path to better understandinghimself. The Fool’s bitter jests ultimately show King Lear the folly of hisaction. King Lear’s madness and the Fool’s wit and insight illustrate thetheme of the play. The theme being man’s inhumanity to man in the form ofingratitude. Shakespeare gives the most unlikely character, The Fool, thegreatest amount of wisdom and insight.
This device works well because TheFool is a peripheral character, as such, he acts as a sought of narratorpointing out the foolishness and folly going on around him. Shakespeareuses The Fool to be a commentator on the action of the play as well as acharacter in the play. Shakespeare uses The Fool to provide comic relief through the playas well.
The Fool’s role as entertainment for the king allows him toinfluence the king. It is believed that in the tradition of Elizabethantragedy that the fool acts as the instructor to the king. We see in KingLear that the Fool constantly reminds the king of his follies throughriddles and jokes. The Fool acts somewhat of a voice for the audiencebecause we are aware of things that the king is not. The Fool is able tospeak out against madness because of his function in Lear’s court. He is toentertain the king with his songs, quips, puns, songs, and riddles.
TheFool was able to use his sharp jokes and wit to entertain the king as wellas inform him. Once the king abdicates his throne, the fool follows him eventhough he is angry at the disinheriting of Cordelia. The Fool functionsquite admirably as a teacher throughout the play.
The Fool uses cruel jokesto get his messages across. Thus he tells Lear, thou madest thy daughtersthy mother: for thou gavest them the rod and puttest down thine ownbreeches. When Lear asks, Dost thou call me fool, boy, the Fool replies, All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou was born with(Act 1,Scene IV). What dramatic purpose does it serve to have the Fool be the onlysource of reason in the play? Possibly, the audience could be overwhelmedby the outright stupidity of Lear. The audience could wait forever for Learto figure out his folly. Therefore, character after character disappointseach having an evil intention or simple shortsightedness.
The tension istherefore heightened in the lead up to Lear’s downfall. In the Fool we havesomeone who articulates our feelings. We wonder how the Fool willeventually demonstrate the folly to the King.
Also, a twist of ironycertainly exists in the Fool calling the king a fool. Who would be better to represent the foolishness of the king than afool? He represents the king’s foolishness throughout the play via wit,enthusiasm, and intellect. He uses these tools to interrupt the mountingtension while making his points at the same time. It is evident to everyonebut the king how foolish he is. He is capable of executing his duties asking, and delegating authority yet, he disposes of his kingdom, his throne,and his possessions so unwisely. Finally, Shakespeare must have been awarethat the audience could become frustrated by the apparent blindness of theking.
Therefore, he felt there was a need to have a voice of reason presentin the play. Lear needed to banish Cordelia before he could learn hislesson. He wasn’t insightful enough to see this himself; therefore,Shakespeare utilized the Fool to instruct the king.