The Role and Function of the Fool in King Lear

2999 Words Aug 20th, 2006 12 Pages
Explore the role and function of ‘The Fool' in ‘King Lear'

The Fool in ‘King Lear' is a William Shakespeare creation. Shakespeare has the ability to reveal a human character with an exceptional use of language. He allows us to see more than just words on the paper; we're given a multi dimensional insight into a character. Usually his characters aren't as straight-forward as black or white, they are invariably more complex. Edmund for example, it's easy to present him as the villain but Shakespeare also shows us a sorry side to him as he attempts an apology before he dies. Shakespeare has given us concrete images of things that are inexpressible, such as love. To articulate a multi- faceted view of a person and present it concisely with
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The Fool also likes to remind Lear that he has not only failed himself but his people too. ‘So out went the candle and we were left darkling' Lear was the light of the state now he has abdicated the light has gone out and he's let his people down by leaving them in the incapable hands of his two daughters. Eventually the Fool gets a glimmer of hope back from Lear when he realises his mistakes. ‘I did her wrong' he says about Cordelia. At this point the Fool switches back to being light hearted as he realises stressing the point would only bring Lear down. Some critics say The Fool is responsible for pushing Lear over the edge. I like to think it was necessary for Lear to go through madness so he can truly appreciate the consequences of his actions. The Fool was helping Lear to ‘see better'. Finally Lear's conscience catches up with him at least to an extent when he says ‘poor fool and knave I have one part in my heart that's sorry for thee.' The Fool's sarcasm is blunt and hard hitting, just like Cordelia's truth was in the ‘love test'. ‘I am better than thou art now I am a fool thou art nothing'. The Fool is one of the Truth tellers in the play. Cordelia and Kent being the other two. However the fool doesn't get punished for it like the others do. This is mainly due to the way he articulates himself and what traditionally the role of the fool is. The main role of the fool was to entertain. Yet they