King lear

Essay by blazziniUniversity, Bachelor'sA, June 2004

download word file, 27 pages 4.3


Lear´s Shadow.

The Omnipresence of Foolishness

and the Thin Line between Foolishness and Kingship

in Shakespeare´s King Lear.

"Ask him his purposes, why he appears upon this call o´th´trumpet."


Introduction Page 2

The Fool Outside 3

The Omnipresence of Foolishness 7

1. The Centrality of Marginality 7

2. The Mask of Folly 9

Lear´s Shadow 12

1. Type and Anti-type 12

2. The Loyal Fool 14

3. The Royal Fool 16

The Bitter Fool and the Cassandra Tragedy 18

Bibliography 21

"O that I were a fool! I am ambitious for a motley coat [...] I must have liberty withal, as large a charter as the wind, to blow on who I please, for so fools have"

"[Der Narr] war eine wandelnde Warnung und erinnerte seinen Herrscher daran, wie klein die Spanne zwischen dem mächtigen König und dem verlachten Toren war."


The Fool in William Shakespeare´s King Lear - strange and nameless as a character, without fundamental dramatical indispensability as a figure, and seemingly without any tragical qualities as a jester.

And though, with all that he seems to lack if taken by his face value, Lear´s Fool plays a significant part in the tragedy. "Does Shakespeare violate the canon of decorum or seemliness when he introduces the Fool as companion to the King?" Is a fool in the right place when set into a tragedy, and is Lear´s Fool an adequate "companion", or is he more than just that? Then what is his relationship to his master like? What is the Fool´s function in the play, be it on the dramatical level or the symbolical?

Within this paper, I will try and find some possible and plausible, though certainly not final answers to the questions above. Therefore, I will firstly explain the Fool´s general...