Survey of Western Literature
Who’s the fool?
King Lear is a story about an old king that, before retiring, splits his in half and gives it to his two older daughters. This turns out to be a bad decision due to the fact that neither of those daughters seems to like him. Along this road there are people that help him get through this ordeal. One of these people is known throughout the play as the fool, but is the fool really a fool or is he something greater? The fool doesn’t change the way he acts towards Lear during the course of the play. In most plays, books, movies, etc. the court jester, clown, or joker (except batman) have a very small ...view middle of the document...
If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb.- How now, nuncle? Would I had two coxcombs and two daughters!” (Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 4)
The fool shows how foolish the king was in making a very poor choice, and as the play continues Lear begins to comprehend the effects that his earlier decisions which in the end leads him to going insane. This is clearly brought out when the king thinks a stool to be his daughter.
In act 1 scene 5 group of Lear and The fool journey towards Leers’ second daughter, Regan. The fool starts making fun of Lear because he thinks that his second daughter will treat him better than Goneril did. The fool asks Lear a series of questions:
Fool - “If a man’s brains were in’s heels, were’t not in danger of kibes?
Lear - Ay, boy.
Fool - Then, I prithee, be merry. Thy wit shall ne'er go slipshod.
Lear - Ha, ha, ha!
Fool - Shalt see thy other daughter will use thee kindly. For though she’s as like this as a crab’s like an apple, yet I can tell what I can tell.
Lear - Why, what canst thou tell, my boy?
Fool - She will taste as like this as a crab does to a crab. (Shakespeare Act 1, Scene 5)”
The fool realizes that this might take a little more than small hints to relay the message that the king was the fool. His idea to retire and assume that his daughters would take care of her was not the smartest thing he could hope for (you know what happens when you assume). The fool continues to insult the king in a round-about way, and Lear still doesn’t understand what he did. The fool recognizes that at some point he will have to be blunt with the king and that he made an enormous blunder.
The fools’ continuity of making fun of King Lear hit a new ground in Act 2 Scene 4:
“Winter’s not gone yet, if the wild geese fly that way. Fathers that wear rags do make their children blind. But fathers that bear bags shall see their children kind. Fortune, that arrant whore, Ne'er turns the key to th' poor. But for all this thou shalt have as many dolors for thy daughters as thou canst tell in a year. (Shakespeare Act 2, Scene 4)”
The fool now has had enough. He sees his king completely broken after the emotional abuses that he has taken from his two daughters and tells the king at point blank that the King did something senseless. He tells Lear that his two daughters are terrible people for the way that they treat the king and his servants, and that the only reason that they said such nice things to him was to acquire all wealth and power that the king had. This also seems to be the first time that King Lear realizes that he made a mistake with his two daughters and leaving the third daughter with nothing.
In the next act, the rain is in full force, and it seems like the fool seems to take a little turn. The fool appears to want to take the...