King Lear is the only tragedy by Shakespeare where a fool is presented. The fool is one of the essential sources of comedy in Shakespeare’s (156-161) play. In King Lear, Fool entertains the king and court with his quip and riddles. In the play, fool represents the foolishness of King Lear, the old lord of Britain.
More Notes: King Lear
Introduce of the fool:
The Fool is someone who is so far outside the realms of political and social power. He gets the opportunity to make comments on his superiors in witty and amusing ways. In King Lear, the Fool sings songs and speaks in puns and riddles that are often difficult to understand.
Fool as a source of comedy in King Lear
The fool is one of the devoted servants of the king. He possesses true insight. When King Lear decides to divide his realm among his three daughters named Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia. Before parting his kingdom, Lear tells his daughters to express their love for him. Regan and Goneril, Lear’s eldest daughters, both express their pretentious love for their father. But Lear’s youngest and most adored daughter Cordelia says she can never describe her depth of love in words for her dad. Lear doesn’t get what she is attempting to say, and angrily, Lear banishes Cordelia from his kingdom. Now, Lear stays with his two cunning daughters after dividing his all reign. Food does not agree with Lear’s decision.
Observing all incidence, the Fool says that if Lear gave him an egg, he would give him two crowns. When Lear asks him to explain how he will give him two crowns, the Fool tells him that he will cut the egg into the middle, eat the eatable portion inside and give him the two shells which are the two crowns of the egg. Here, The Fool points out that Lear dividing his crown between his first two daughters is the wrong decision and a foolish act. By dividing his crown, he becomes a person under the command of his daughter and he submits himself at their mercy. It proves he is a person of very little intelligence. The presence of the fool indicates a matter of sense or self-knowledge not for a professional Fool. Besides disappearance of the fool is another source of comedy. Thus, the fool is a source of comedy in King Lear.
More Notes: William Shakespeare
The Fool plays a vital role in instructing King Lear to “see” better. He tries to tell him through witty and amusing ways that king Lear needs to open his inner eyes to see his mistake. Under the fool’s guidance, king Lear is able to realize his own folly and errors at end of the play.