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Thread: The Fool

  1. #1
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    The Fool

    The Fool in this play seems to have a lot of significance, but can anyone tell me what he expresses through being a fool? Does he express innocence (the same innocence as a child) or does he predict or foreshadow something.

    There was this type of character also in The Tempest, if I remember well, although it is already about 10 years ago that I saw that play.

    Are there any other characters in other plays that are of the same nature, expressing kind of the same principle?

    If anyone would be abe to enlighten me, it would be useful to understand other plays...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

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    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Before leaving for France, Cordelia expresses truth. Until her return The Fool is truth. Eventually truth, Cordelia and The Fool are hanged.

    And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!

  3. #3
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Thank you. It's a great help. It was difficult to get the sense of his words sometimes, certainly because I'm not English-spreaking and I mainly read the play and watched a bad version...

    Does Shakespeare have the tendency to do that in others of his plays as well? (probably yes, but I'll just ask anyway...)
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

  4. #4
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    It's a great help.
    Be warned, Kiki, that my previous post is probably not mainstream interpretation.

    The clowns and grave-diggers in 'Hamlet' have a related function as discussed in Bring in the clowns

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Don't worry, it's not for a paper or marks or so... I just wondered.

    Mostly strange characters have a tendency to have a great importance.

    In that, it is both striking and sad that the fool expresses truth in King Lear...

    I'll remember what you said when I'll watch/read another Shakespeare...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

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    I think it's wrong to categorize any character in Shakespeare (or any other piece of literature that isn't very clearly allegorical) as simply being representative of something. If The Fool is purely representative of the truth, then what does his prophesy in the third act mean to us? The play in itself seems to treat superstitions, or even religious beliefs as irrelevant to life or happiness. The faiths held by Lear, Gloucester and Edmund (whether supernatural or natural) are repeatedly disregarded by the play's events, so what logic is there then in having a character that supposedly represents truth forsee the existence of Merlin?

    I think with the fool it is more interesting to look at the manner in which he uses the truth (to insult, to punish, to support) rather than to regard him (or Cordelia) as simply symbolizing it.

  7. #7
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by conartist View Post
    I think with the fool it is more interesting to look at the manner in which he uses the truth (to insult, to punish, to support) rather than to regard him (or Cordelia) as simply symbolizing it.
    Makes sense, Conartist. After all, Kent and Albany also proclaim 'truth'.

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    That is true, yet they all get rejected in one way or another...

    It is maybe that that the Fool symbolises: the ridicule in which the truth is beheld in King Lear's eyes.

    His words are frequent allusions to sayings and folktales, I think. But the problem is I don't know them, so can't make sense of them. That's why I put the question...

    (when the Fool gets scared by Edgar... sad)
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'me ne se vide ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scne VII)

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    Shakespearean xman's Avatar
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    touchstone in As You Like It is much like the Fool in Lear, but more whimsical due to the nature of the piece. I think arguments could be made for Feste in Twelfth Night, the Porter in Macbeth, the Gravedigger in Hamlet ... really, the list goes on and on. Such personalities were used to show ironic wisdom.

    X
    Last edited by xman; 02-10-2009 at 09:01 PM.
    He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. ~ Douglas Adams

  10. #10
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xman View Post
    Such personalities where used to show ironic wisdom.
    Cordelia and her fool, Kent and Albany are all fonts of wisdom, but The Fool and Albany speak with irony.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    The Fool in this play seems to have a lot of significance, but can anyone tell me what he expresses through being a fool?
    I love the Fool in King Lear, I was just thinking about the Fool actually, he's one of my favourite characters. I think one argument you could put forward is that Shakespeare makes us question who the fool actually is, here we have a wise fool and a foolish King, from there you can ask a lot of questions regarding power, status, human understanding and everything else, he inverts the whole social scale. The Fool is able to cut through the politics of everything and see things and people as they truly are, he's one of the most insightful characters in Shakespeare.

    I think he differs greatly from Feste in Twelfth Night who only really functions as a plot device if I remember correctly. Here Fool is very much part of the whole pathos of the story, sticking with old "nuncle" as his suffering increases to its deathly and brilliant conclusion. A wise fool in a foolish world indeed.

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    Can i just say that the fool Isnt really symbolising anything.

    His used as he is the only one out of the servants that can try to talk sense into King Lear directly.
    The fools job in Shakespeare's time would have been to make fun of the King,
    Shakespeare uses him to poke fun at the king for the stuff he is doing/saying.
    When he talks about Half the crowns of the egg, he is directly talking about the splitting of the crown by Lear.

    His not really put there for anything but a bit of comedy value and he is later used to symbolise Lears progression in human terms, like when in the storm and he offers the Fool his jacket to wear when cold, Shakespeare at this point uses him to show Lear slowly becoming much nicer and stepping out from being the Proud king he was at the start, to actually caring about people.

    And Gladys
    Before leaving for France, Cordelia expresses truth. Until her return The Fool is truth. Eventually truth, Cordelia and The Fool are hanged.
    You may want to be careful with what you say.
    The Fool as it were has NO conclusive proof that he was hung.
    When Lear refers to 'The Fool' when he is nearing death in his final part of the play. He is commonly refeering to Cordelia, not The Fool.
    You never find out what happens to the fool, after he says "And i will have Breakfast at Noon" He drops off the book, thats his last scene.
    There was no complete and utter truth to him being hung.

  13. #13
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthonytats View Post
    The Fool as it were has NO conclusive proof that he was hung. When Lear refers to 'The Fool' when he is nearing death in his final part of the play. He is commonly referring to Cordelia, not The Fool.
    You never find out what happens to the fool, after he says "And i will have Breakfast at Noon" He drops off the book, that's his last scene.
    I'm fascinated that the fool, Cordelia's Acolyte, only appears on stage when that paragon of truth is absent. Finally, both are absent: "And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!". Poor fool?
    Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold?
    I am cold myself. Where is this straw, my fellow?
    The art of our necessities is strange,
    That can make vile things precious. Come, your hovel.
    Poor fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee.
    Last edited by Gladys; 03-10-2009 at 06:00 PM. Reason: Acolyte

  14. #14
    Another interesting connection between the Fool and Cordelia is that it is thought that the same actor played both parts. It is certainly true that they are never on stage at the same time. It seems strange to think that Shakespeare had to kill the Fool off because he needed the actor to play Cordelia at the end, the practicalities of Shakespeare's theatre.

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