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"Consider the dramatic functions ofthe fool in King Lear".

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Introduction

"Consider the dramatic functions of the fool in King Lear" Hannah veseli The fool's dramatic functions reach far further than is first obvious on the surface of his character. Although he is not without wit and humour, his usually gaiety has been soured to suit the high tragedy that is paramount to King Lear. His presence in King Lear, is not just to show the folly of the king (which is his actually job) as in other Shakespearean plays, but rather he has many other important dramatic functions. Having said that his gaiety is soured, he does provide a contrast to the otherwise perennial gloom that surrounds King Lear. This is used for a number of reasons; firstly if Shakespeare was to simply concentrate on the tragedy and not include any 'comical moments', the gloominess would become monotonous. However by adding contrast, almost by juxtaposition, it emphasises the depth and seriousness of the tragedy. This is especially true when one thinks that the fool's gaiety is less humorous than his predecessors, and in many cases simply common sense. ...read more.

Middle

One other way the fool is an apparatus for Lear's good side is the fact that he is the only person in the play that Lear will actually listen to, and may begrudgingly respect. Only the fool dares to confront Lear with the route of his folly and where Kent's quiet demur when criticising the King (about his rash treatment of Cordelia) results in immediate banishment, the fools criticisms are respected by Lear. This shows that Lear has the capability, if not the willingness, to listen and learn from others. Some critics have also suggested that Shakespeare created the fool to be seen as a profit figure, a wise-man that can foresee the future. There are two main parts of this in the play. The first is the Merlin like prophecy suggesting that when the everything is upside down, the world will be in confusion. This is a parody with the Kings situation "When every case in law is right; No squire in debt, nor no poor knight; When slanders do not live in tongues Nor cutpurses come to throngs; ...Then shall the realm of Albion Come to great confusion" The fool says that it is Merlin's prophecy. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Fool, as Kent is, is incredibly loyal to Lear, despite the treatment of Lear. Whereas others desert the now powerless king, the fool stays loyal. This shows two things, firstly the fool's own good character, but also that the King must have had some admirable qualities before he went mad, otherwise the fool would have also deserted him. To add to this admirable loyalty of the fool, he is doing it knowing that it is worthless, for he says to Kent, "All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men;..." This quotation from the Fool to Kent suggests that Kent is mad to be following this 'fading star'. Ironically the fact they both are only serves to greaten the loyalty that they are showing.: In conclusion the Fool is far from a fool. He is not responsible for any of the folly in play, nor is he as conceited (Edmund), as evil (Goneril, Regan) or ignorant (Gloucester, Edgar) as other characters. Although his time in the play, is relatively brief, he serves to show us many different dramatic functions of the play, and the play would be less rounded without this very human character. ...read more.

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