Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: The Fool in Shakespeare's Plays

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    2

    The Fool in Shakespeare's Plays

    I'm currently doing a project at college in which you pick a topic of your choice, research it and produce an essay and presentation on the subject. I chose to research the character of the fool in Shakespeare's plays and as part of the research process I am asking people with an interest in Shakespeare the following questions to gain some opinions and in turn a greater understanding of the fool's purpose, importance etc..

    1. How does the depiction of the fool enhance the dramatization of the Shakespearean play?
    2. Would you consider the fool as generally an important character, or a character that could be easily left out of the original text, with no detrimental affect?
    3. Do you consider the fool's role as anything more than for comedic purposes?
    4. Leading on from the previous question, if the fool's role is more than comedic, what do you believe are the different types of fool, and what purposes do they serve?
    5. Have you seen any modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays which involve the fool, and if so, what was your opinion on their continued inclusion?
    6. Conversely, have you seen any modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays which do not involve the fool, where the fool was included in the original text? If so, what was your opinion of this choice by the director?

    I would be grateful is some people could answer the questions above; it will be interesting to hear different opinions on the matter! As this is part of my research, I would also quote your username and the message you have posted in my essay or presentation, so by replying you will be giving your consent that you are happy for me do this. If you are not comfortable with this, please do not reply. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    23
    I don't know how qualified I am to answer this but I'll have a go.
    Quote Originally Posted by juniper1 View Post
    1. How does the depiction of the fool enhance the dramatization of the Shakespearean play?
    3. Do you consider the fool's role as anything more than for comedic purposes?
    I think fools, both in drama and in real life, are there to say the things that the kings can't for fear of offending people, thus they often provide a satirical commentary on the events of the play (as well as being funny). Even their jokes often emphasise the themes of the play. Shakespeare being a master of characterisation, his fools are often character studies in themselves as they are often in unique (and precarious) professions. For example Lear's fool is used to vent the king's frustration on and is not treated very well yet at the same time he and Lear have a peculiarly intimate relationship; note his private lamentation "I had rather be any kind o' thing than a fool".

    Quote Originally Posted by juniper1 View Post
    2. Would you consider the fool as generally an important character, or a character that could be easily left out of the original text, with no detrimental affect?
    Often the fool can be easily left out of the plot without extensive changes being made but that is not to say it wouldn't be detrimental to the piece. His thematic role is often (but not always) to complement more important characters and to add to what their actions and speeches are saying about certain themes. Through jokes they will make points about suicide or kingship or whatever to back up the main message of the play.

    Quote Originally Posted by juniper1 View Post
    4. Leading on from the previous question, if the fool's role is more than comedic, what do you believe are the different types of fool, and what purposes do they serve?
    I think that on the whole all of Shakespeare's "fools" have roughly the same purpose (see above), though some may have more of a direct impact on events. However I think that it's debatable what is meant by a "fool"; you can say only those whose profession is being a fool (such as the Fool in 'King Lear') or any comic character in an otherwise serious play (such as the Gravedigger in 'Hamlet' or even perhaps Falstaff in 'Henry IV').

    Quote Originally Posted by juniper1 View Post
    5. Have you seen any modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays which involve the fool, and if so, what was your opinion on their continued inclusion?
    I have seen the RSC 'King Lear' with Ian McKellen a couple of times, in which Sylvestor McCoy plays the Fool. I thought his clownery interspersed with pitiful melancholy worked well with the play and the use of an older actor, while it limits the character in some ways, gave him a sense of world-weariness. The trouble with keeping these characters is that a lot of their purpose is providing deep questions or meanings through comedy and it is sometimes hard to make Shakespeare funny to modern audiences. McCoy did admirably in making the Fool believably amusing, and David Tennant and Catherine Tate's version of 'Much Ado' is hilarious, but without intelligent directing and competent acting a fool's "jokes" just sound like recitations, rendering the character impotent.

    I can't think of any adaptations without the fool. Sorry.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    2
    Thank you so much! You've been really helpful!

Similar Threads

  1. Rank Shakespeare's plays
    By Jackson Richardson in forum Shakespeare, William
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 07-10-2015, 12:32 AM
  2. Did Shakespeare write the plays?
    By Emil Miller in forum Shakespeare, William
    Replies: 141
    Last Post: 11-14-2011, 05:37 PM
  3. Where to Begin in Shakespeare's Plays
    By Vladimir777 in forum Shakespeare, William
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: 10-23-2009, 12:16 PM
  4. What Shakespeare plays have you seen performed?
    By IWilKikU in forum Shakespeare, William
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 09-16-2005, 12:22 AM
  5. Shakespeare Plays
    By leagunner in forum The Literature Network
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-25-2003, 10:14 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •