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The Fool in King Lear and as You Like It

  • Date Submitted: 03/17/2010 10:21 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.9 
  • Words: 336
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“a rustic or otherwise uneducated individual whose dramatic purpose was to evoke laughter” how far does this statement fit in with the idea of the fool in the plays you have studied?

To understand the fool in “king Lear” and “as you like it” it is important to put the fools in historical context. The idea of a fool originates from ancient times when English courts employed fools as entertainment and by the middle ages a Jester in a well off household. By Renaissance times, Aristocratic houses employed licensed jesters. These jesters occasionally wore servant clothing but the norm was for them to wear a bright coat and a hood with ass’s ears, a Coxcomb and bells. These jesters or fools can be seen to be like a pet to their masters although the relationship between fool and master was often much more close then this, a fool would always be loyal to his master, such as the fool in king Lear. The fool also was a great mentor to his master passing on wisdom to his master and it was the fool’s job to criticize and mock their master, however it can go to far as in King Lear king Lear threatens to whip his fool. However the fools position in the court was not a low one, an example of this was Archie Armstrong who was the official fool to both King James VI/I and his son King Charles I, he was seen as both a gentleman groom and a source of humor and enjoyed many privileges such as a license to produce tobacco in a time when tobacco was banned and he was also granted citizenship to Aberdeen. A fool’s whit was what set him apart from merely being a idiot for the peoples amusement, the criticism and mockery the fool would express would be amusing but would also be clever and true, an example of this in king Lear is when to fool mocks his master “


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