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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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