• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In Shakespeare's King Lear, the Fools main function is to play three major roles. Discuss

Extracts from this document...


In Shakespeare's, King Lear, the Fools main function is to play three major roles. The first of these roles is to play King Lear's "inner-conscience". The fool provides basic wisdom and reasoning for the King at much needed times. His second role as the Fool is to work as amusement for Lear in times of sadness and his third role as one of the only people besides the Duke of Kent and Cordelia with the ability to stand up to King Lear. I plan to use these roles and other functions of the fool to examine their effect on other characters in the play and how they develop with the plot. I will use my own knowledge and that of: Arnold Kettle, Kathleen McLuskie and ... to support my thoughts on his functions. The fool works as the "inner conscience" of Lear throughout the play quote . He informs him of his mistakes (follies) . quote . The fool shows Lear the side of reasoning and tries to persuade Lear that it was wrong to banish Cordelia. The fool first appearance is in Act 1, scene four, after Cordelia had moved away with the King of France, due to the bad judgement of King Lear. The fool knows that King Lear has done wrong by giving all his land away to his 2 other daughters, Goneril and Regan, and tells him so in act one, scene four, when he says, "All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with." ...read more.


Cordelia, Kent and the Fool. During the play Lear threatens to have the Fool whipped for what he says, when Cordelia and Kent get banished from the Kingdom for speaking their minds. This just shows the special relationship the Fool and Lear have during the play. This point is emphasised later in the play when Lear shows concern and compassion towards the Fool, "Come on, my boy. How dost my boy, art thou cold?" All the characters in King Lear, apart from the Fool, are interconnected and of great importance to the story of King Lear and his daughters and the story of Edmund, Edgar and Gloucester. The character of the Fool did not have influence over Lear's decision to divide the kingdom, nor did the Fool have any connection with the subplot. Perhaps, for this reason many directors argue over the importance of his character. One should be able to realize that the presence of the Fool did not influence the overall impact of the play and that the two major plots would have occurred with him or without him. Shakespeare gives the most unlikely character, The Fool, the greatest amount of wisdom and insight. This device works well because The Fool is a peripheral character, as such, he acts as a sought of narrator pointing out the foolishness and folly going on around him. ...read more.


Perhaps, this final exit is due to Lear's madness. The Fool's character jumps into the play at the end of Act 1, and in the same manner disappears out of the play at the end of Act 3. Subsequently, the presence of the Fool did not change the rules of the game and his disappearance did not affect the consequences of the war and death that followed. Thus, the Fool's character had no influence over the final impact of the play. Since the Fool's character had no influence over King's actions and no connections with the subplot of the play, his removal would therefore not influence the overall impact of the play. However, through his bewildering statements the Fool adds an intriguing essence to the play in foreshadowing coming events and in amusing the King and the audience. When directing his own plays, Shakespeare made sure to include the character of the Fool, as in this way, he managed to bring his tragedy to equilibrium and his play to appeal to all the socio-economic groups of the audience. Also, there aren't many plays or movies that suggest the connection between the King and the jester in his court. I believe that this play reveals much of that friendly connection that the audience is asking for. Therefore, for all these reasons, I believe that the character of the Fool should not be taken out of the play even though it doesn't have a role in the two major plots of the play ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level King Lear essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How effectively does Shakespeare present Lear's loss of power in the play?

    4 star(s)

    In the opening scene all attention was on him as he asked his daughters to declare their love for him. Now however he averts their attention to his daughter, a stark contrast emphasising the change Lear has undergone. Thus Lear's loss of power is clearly shown by Shakespeare through his

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Consider the role of the Fool in King Lear. How important is he ...

    4 star(s)

    The notion of the Fool providing comic relief can be difficult to see in the darkness of King Lear, but such relief does occur. An example of this is his flippant remark about poor Tom's clothing, "Nay, he reserved a blanket; else we had been all shamed."

  1. Marked by a teacher

    King Lear. The seeds of tragedy are sewn in Act 1 scene 1. To ...

    3 star(s)

    This also further highlights his fatal flaw as a tragic hero. Michael Elliott, however, presents the storm as a form of justice. With a medium low- angle shot, It seems as though Lear brings the storm himself and nature is angry with the way Lear has been treated.

  2. Explore the presentation of Edmund in 'King Lear'

    old doth fall' Edmund plays off Goneril and Regan to his advantage; and they two sisters love him passionately, his handsomeness and his evilness. Edmund turns to the audience with another of his flagrant addresses, his difference to Goneril and Regan is made clear.

  1. How does Shakespeare present Edmund in King Lear?

    After being a strong character who showed no signs of irregularity, Edmund is soon shown to be more regretful. When discussing the harm he caused to Regan and Goneril he fluctuates between nine, ten and eleven syllables per line. This constant switch suggests that Edmund is scathed by his heinous

  2. To What Extent Can King Lear Be Described as the Tragic Hero of Shakespeares ...

    Does Lear's punishment exceed his crime? He certainly seems to think so: 'I am a man More sinned against than sinning.' In the events leading up to the end of the play, Shakespeare includes a number of devices to ensure the audience knows who the truly evil characters are compared to those, like Lear who just have their 'tragic flaw'.

  1. Betrayal in King Lear

    Foreseeing that their father possesses a possible threat to them, Goneril and Regan plot against their father so that he becomes helpless like a child. After the storm, when Lear's madness had taken its course, both he and Cordelia are taken prisoners by Albany's army.

  2. How does Shakespeare create a sense of unease in Act 1 Scene 1 of ...

    Gonerill and Regan?s two highly over-exaggerated comments of their unconditional and unmatched love of their father certainly makes it apparent that what is being said is not genuine- it is rather a feigned act only constructed to try to impress, and ?win?.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work