The Fool

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The Fool – King Lear
The Royal Shakespeare Company writes of the Fool:
There is no contemporary parallel for the role of Fool in the court of kings. As Shakespeare conceives it, the Fool is a servant and subject to punishment ('Take heed, sirrah – the whip ' 1:4:104) and yet Lear's relationship with his fool is one of friendship and dependency. The Fool acts as a commentator on events and is one of the characters (Kent being the other) who is fearless in speaking the truth. The Fool provides wit in this bleak play and unlike some of Shakespeare's clowns who seem unfunny to us today because their topical jokes no longer make sense, the Fool in King Lear ridicules Lear's actions and situation in such a way that audiences understand the point of his jokes. His 'mental eye' is the most acute in the beginning of the play: he sees Lear's daughters for what they are and has the foresight to see that Lear's decision will prove disastrous.[8] Writes Jan Kott, in Shakespeare Our Contemporary,

The Fool does not follow any ideology. He rejects all appearances, of law, justice, moral order. He sees brute force, cruelty and lust. He has no illusions and does not seek consolation in the existence of natural or supernatural order, which provides for the punishment of evil and the reward of good. Lear, insisting on his fictitious majesty, seems ridiculous to him. All the more ridiculous because he does not see how ridiculous he is. But the Fool does not desert his ridiculous, degraded king, and accompanies him on his way to madness. The Fool knows that the only true madness is to recognize this world as rational.

* Touchstone in As You Like It
* The Fool in King Lear
* Trinculo in The Tempest
* Costard in Love's Labours Lost
* Feste in Twelfth Night
* Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice
* Lavache in All's Well That Ends Well
* A Fool in Timon of Athens
* Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream
* Thersites in Troilus and Cressida
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