Relationship Between King Lear and His Fool

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Relationship Between King Lear and His Fool

By | August 2008
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Refer to Act one, scene five

Describe the relationship between King Lear and his Fool in this passage. How is the relationship developed in King Lear as a whole?

In Shakespeare's "King Lear", the relationship between Lear and the fool is crucial to the development of the character of Lear and also to many themes in the play. Interweaving insightful commentaries with clever wit and language, the fool, a loyal associate to Lear, offers an insight into Lear's mind. Using juxtaposition with metaphor, symbolism, puns and irony, the fool effectively addresses and understands Lear's motives and offers practical, unpretentious advice. The fool effectively gives to Lear a conscience, and highlights his goodness and self-realization as Lear is persuaded to lower himself to the level of another. The play starts with Lear effectively being the fool but gains wisdom and human experiences with the guidance of the fool and learns humility, remorse and compassion. With the fool, Lear becomes a sympathetic character, identifiable as a human, and less as an ignorant king.

This passage takes place in act one, scene five after Lear's dividing of his land. Conflict between Lear and Goneril has forced Lear to seek the company of Regan, where he hopes he will be treated with better respect. The fool and Lear are alone on stage, and the fool remarks upon Lear's misjudgments. The fool focuses on the strange motion of "a man's brains… in's heels" stating that Lear has misplaced his wits and common sense and has now been infected with "kibes". This metaphor is symbolic of Lear’s plans being infested by unwanted intentions. "thy wit shall not go slipshod." Lear should not visit his second daughter just as this is an unnecessary action, and for how can your wits be sheltered by "slipshod"? This imagery is significant to mock Lear's poor logic and ignorance, emphasized by the rhetorical question, as it seems like common knowledge that Lear is walking into inevitable disaster. Goneril...
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