Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Lear and the Fool

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1. How does William Shakespeare use changes in the Fool’s dialogue to mirror changes in Lear’s own perspective? Choose quotes from the sheet that support your argument. 2. How does William Shakespeare use the Fool to reflect Lear’s own thoughts and fears? Use a quote from the sheet to support your argument. The Fool’s dialogue is like a mockery of King Lear – he speaks pure honesty of Lear but adds hints of comedy to balance out the rudeness implied. The Fool re-enacts King Lear’s life by acting out his choices and proves how much of an oblivious and naive fool King Lear was before.

The Fool creates a figure – much like King Lear, to act out the foolish behaviour that Lear had behaved earlier such as giving his kingdom to his two daughters, Regan and Goneril because he had trusted them. Now that the true figure of his daughters have been revealed, showing their dishonesty and evil nature, King Lear is upset that he had held that much trust in them and the Fool is represented in there to show Lear’s failure as a King. The quote, ‘if thou wert my fool, nuncle, I’d have thee beaten for being old before thy time’ represents that now the Fool believes that King Lear is now the real fool.

Why did William Shakespeare include mockery and obscene humour in such tragic play? Which part of the audience would appreciate this the most? Give examples from the quotes supplied. The mockery used by the Fool is to balance out the tragic honesty and brutality with comedy to ease and balance it out so that the play is not all tragedy. The audience that were the closest to the stage were given direct jokes from the Fool about the protagonist, this is usually done to the closest to the stage – which were usually the poor people since they would not be able to receive any seats higher.

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