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Our estimate of King Lear depends very much on the view we take of the Fool. Superficially
considered, his presence is a blemish in the work; but a close analysis of the characters proves
that he is necessary to the full development and right understanding of all the principal
characters and majorly of Lear.

 Highly intellectual, he uses his wit in urging his master to resume the shape he has cast off;
and so pointed and earnest are his reproaches, so acute is his perception of the wTongs done
to Cordelia, and which his master persists in doing to himself, that we cannot believe that he is
"altogether fool" in any speech.


The interaction between Lear and the fool is multi-dimensional. It is not limited to merely a jester-king
relationship. It is rather extended- when Cordelia, King Lear's only well-intentioned daughter, is exiled
from the kingdom, the Fool instantly takes on the role of Lear's defender and his child. This acts as a
persistent reminder of king’s folly in banishing Cordelia. They share a very warm relationship,
contradicting many other that turn sour and embittered. Lear handles the fool with affection, while at
the same time providing him with protection and care as if he were his own. He even manifests his
parental faculty in Act III scene II, "Come on my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold?" (III. II. 69).

The fool is the king's champion, truthful and sincere. Also, by exercising mockery, humor, wit and
sarcasm he is able to identify and address Lear's flaws. Moreover he could also be said to act as Lear's
conscience. As he is the sole character who is able to accost Lear directly without any fear of retribution
or damnation, he is able to regulate the king's behavior .

REGULATING INSANITY: During entire time the Fool attempts to delay Lear's
insanity and point out those reckless actions. Although he tries to prevent
Lear from madness, he does not directly tell him he is going insane, "[t]hen I
prithee by merry; thy wit shall not go slipspod" (I. V. 11-12). Rather, he
communicates in riddles and jokes to convey his messages to Lear.
REAL NATURE OF PEOPLE: Examinations of the Fool reveal his character
personifies truth and reasoning; the things Lear lack. He simply remarks the
truth of people around King Lear. When Goneril gives Lear a taunt to get rid
of his troops or to get out, Lear decides to head for shelter at his daughter,
Regan's residence. The Fool acts in response by saying, "Shalt see thy other
daughter will use the kindly; for though she's as like this as a crab's like an
apple, yet I can tell what I can tell" (I. V. 14-16), meaning Regan would also
treat you the same as Goneril- both of them sour crabapples.

Later in the play, the Fool foreshadows what may happen, "[f]or you know,
nuncle, the hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long that it's had it head bit off
by it young" (I. IV. 198-200). Also, the Fool attempts to open Lear's eyes for
him to be able to see for himself, "[t]hou shouldst have been old till thou
hadst been wise," (I. V. 42) and have insight as to why these events are


Ironically, the fool and the king begin to swap places. Fool has
always been quick to grant Lear helpful understanding of his
decisions; this establishes the question of which of the two is now
the real fool. Lear asks, “Dost thou call me a fool, boy?” to which
Fool replies, “All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou
wast born with”. The “king has been openly debased to the level
of the fool” (Willeford 218)

King Lear's fool is undoubtedly one of the wisest characters in the play.
He is not only able to accurately analyze a situation which many other
characters are blind to, but he is also able to foreshadow the actions of
many characters and many other incidents to come. The main
instruction the fool gives to the king is to beware of doing things that are
unnatural, such as giving his inheritance, (splitting his kingdom among
his daughters) to his daughters before he his dead. By doing this
unnaturally, Lear must face many adverse consequences, such as losing
his identity, self-worth, and respect from his daughters.
ON LEAVING: The Fool is fiercely loyal to the King.The
Fool never leaves the King's side even when Lear is
going to Regan's house he pleads. "Nuncle Lear,
Nuncle Lear, tarry take the fool with thee" (I. IV. 298-
299). However, when he leaves he never returns, He
leaves because Lear has gained the insight he needs
and is capable of seeing things for himself now; the
Fool's purpose is served.

LEAR’S COMPASSION:We can see that Lear understands how much

of a friend the Fool has been because at the beginning of the play
Lear treats the Fool with a certain amount of respect, but when
Lear finally begins to show any actually compassionate human
kindness it is towards his Fool. It can be seen clearly in Act 3
Scene 2 as Kent tries to make Lear take shelter, and he refuses
until he sees his fool shivering.
The Fool is a pivotal character, since he is paradoxically wise and
proves to possess the deepest intellect of all. In his role as a court
jester, he is privy to seeing what is going on from an outer
perspective and offers a unique view on the harsh reality that
confronts Lear. Lear’s relationship with his fool is one of
friendship and dependency.”He soon becomes Lear’s closest
friend, harshest critic, and most importantly the voice of the king’s
moral conscience. It is the Fool’s dual vantage point from inside
and outside the hierarchy that allows him to serve as a vessel of
truth and even a god-like visionary. From this, the Fool comes to
represent a symbol of truth and wisdom in a world of deception. 
In the midst of thE chaos, the Fool develops a father-son
relationship where he serves as a protector and moral conscience
to Lear. Nowhere in the play does the Fool hold such control over
Lear than in this particular scene. The Fool’s influence reveals
itself through his imparting of wisdom in the form of this rhyme: 

Mark it nuncle.

            Have more than thou showest,

            Speak less than thou knowest,

            Lend less than thou owest,

            Ride more than thou goest. (1.4.115-119).

These paternal instincts begin to truly flourish when the Fool calls
upon Lear as ‘nuncle’, a term of affection, but also solidifies him
as the king’s ethical teacher. The Fool also serves as a vigilant
guard as he attempts to protect the king from the raging storm.He
guides Lear away from the impeding danger as he advises, “O
nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this rain out
o’ door” (3.2.10-11). With this, the Fool continues his paternal
tone, imploring Lear to take shelter from the elements. It is
evident that the Fool is not only protecting the king from nature’s
ferocity but from Lear himself.

EXIT:The fool’s departure from the play at the crest of Lear’s madness
may suggest that he is now superfluous in the context of a kingdom in
which the king is a deranged lunatic. Another interpretation could be
when lear has gained all the insight that is needed and is capable of
seeing things for himself, the fool has served his purpose and therefore
he exits. Whatever the real reason for the Fool’s unexpected exeunt it
is clear that his departure marks the beginning of the end for Lear. The
beacon of goodness and loyalty in the play has left Lear to discover
what wisdom he can find in his own madness.

It would be impossible to label all the roles that Fool plays to his king. His only assigned brief –
an entertainer of the court – is most likely the fool’s least important. Fool acted far more
importantly than a mere source of entertainment, being Lear’s informative protector and friend.
By far his most significant role was that of a moral instructor to his king. Lear only has come to
realization of who people are and reality because of the Fool. The Fool sustained Lear's sanity as long as
he could in order to aid him to see the truth clearly. In the end, Lear appears as a father, a man that the
audience can feel pathos for. When the Fool accomplished his mission to helping Lear gain his insight he
vanishes. Lear may have gone insane much earlier if it was not for the Fool's influence. The fool is the
key factor to Lear's evolutional changes.