King Lear - Discuss the role of the fool in King Lear and his function in the unfolding of the plot.

Essay by sexybombaA-, February 2004

download word file, 3 pages 3.8

In 'King Lear', the Fool is a character of dramatic importance in the play. The Fool helps the reader, and in Shakespeare's time would help the audience, to understand what lies beneath the surface of certain actions or verses. He equally strives to make Lear 'see'. The Fool may be a very intriguing character and very often a complicated one but his role is necessary in 'King Lear'.

The Fool plays three major roles; one of these roles is that of an 'inner-conscience' of Lear. The Fool provides basic wisdom and reasoning for the King at much needed times. The Fool also works as amusement for Lear in times of sadness; often making Lear laugh at himself! He is one of the only people besides the Duke of Kent and Cordelia who are willing to stand up to the King.

Right from the very first appearance we realize that he is a very ironic character and that he makes fun of Kent as well as of the situation.

With his sarcastic remarks and phrases he is simply telling Kent, "..thou must needs wear my coxcomb," telling him that he is a Fool for; "...taking one's part that's out of favour," because Lear has given everything away and is not worth following.

The role of he Fool is to help Lear "...see better...", making him aware of what his daughters really are and trying to make him understand how wrong his deed of giving them everything was. He acts like Lear's 'inner-conscience' and does this in the best of ways by being a "...bitter fool..." because the truth hurts; "Thou hadst little wit in thy bald crown when thou gav'st thy golden one away". (Act 1 Scene 4) He is straight forward and direct, "...I had rather...