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Fool's language tricks

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Introduction

Agnieszka Zgajewska Fool's language tricks When the Fool enters the stage he seems to be completely free in telling the truth but he does not have a complete immunity from punishment. First proof of it comes when Lear warns him with the whip: LEAR: Take heed sirrah, the whip. (II.4.111) When he goes too far in his impudent commentaries he could be turned away from Lear's household. Who would then stay with Lear and point out the truth to him? Fool has the awareness of that and from the moment of Lear's first warning he is more careful in how he expresses his criticism. He knows how to extricate himself from risky situations and escape an eventual punishment. He starts to use his tricks and verbal shifts which for a while distract Lear's attention and let him continue revealing the truth to his master. ...read more.

Middle

He alleviates the acuteness of his comments "by a flight into the ridiculous", namely, he slips into words that act like apparent nonsense: FOOL: ...Have more than thou showest Speak less than thou knowest Lend less than thou owest, Ride more than thou goest ... (I.4.118-121) The Fool also uses this defense when he taunts both Lear and Goneril. He wants to demonstrate Lear's plight and Goneril's rapacity. In demonstrating that he provides a speech with an image of 'the hedge - sparrow who fed the cuckoo so long / That it's had it head bit off by it young' (I.4.233-234) and again slips into senseless words which in his intention should not match with the earlier lines: FOOL: "So out went the candle, and we were left darkling' (I.4.235). ...read more.

Conclusion

LEAR: Why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing. FOOL:[ To Kent] Prithee tell him, so much to rent of his land comes to; he will not believe a Fool. (I.4.143-147) A little further the Fool provides a line in which he confirms that again. He says: "... if I speak like myself in this..."(I.4.175). He has the awareness that he may not be believed and makes clever use of it. He interlaces his barbed comments and raillery with babblings that help him prevent Lear's irritation to turn into fury. He wants to stay with his master and push him towards the truth but this is a difficult and risky task to tell the truth to such a choleric master. Needless to say he must be careful in how he reveals the truth but all of those evasions and verbal shifts help him remain with the king. ...read more.

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