Shakespearean Fools Through the Ages Sample Essay

Shakspere is considered to be many things—including many people— but one thing that Shakespeare is non considered is a sap. Yet this would non be as great an abuse as it sounds. Shakespeare wrote many “fools” into his dramas. most of whom were treated respectfully. A few even had major functions in his plants. Differentiations must be made within the class of saps. nevertheless: buffoons. who turn travesty into a precise scientific discipline ( believe “pie in the face ) ; dunderheads. who turn their deficiency of intelligence into a medium for wit ; and eventually the princes of fooling. the tribunal fools. who turn gulling into a respectable profession. The fool is the reticent buffoon. the educated dunderhead. He has earned a topographic point near the male monarch or queen and has earned an every bit esteemed topographic point in the literature of Shakespeare: Standard in AsYou Like It. Feste in Twelfth Night. and the Fool in King Lear. Many contribute to the visual aspect of Shakespeare’s tribunal fools.

Standard. Feste. and Lear’s Fool are merchandises of history. consequences of personal influences on Shakespeare. built-in parts of their dramas. and characters that deserve a closer expression. Shakespeare was ever seemingly sensitive to history. whether in his ain readings in his history dramas or his inclination to take old. established narratives and do them his ain. Shakespeare so must hold been cognizant of the fool in earlier embodiments. There was the amusing chorus of ancient Greek dramas. which commented on the idiosyncrasies of human nature. Beatrice Otto. an authorization on tribunal fools. found grounds of fourteenth-century Chinese plays that have conversations between fools and their emperors ( 188 ) .

Closer to Shakespeare’s clip. the medieval ages produced a great many morality dramas. whose Vice characters—characters that represent the “vices” in human nature—speak and act as fools. But the visual aspect of tribunal fools as tribunal fools on the English phase was rare until Shakespeare took up the pen himself. The tribunal fools portrayed in Shakespeare’s work are largely based on the theoretical account of fools in his ain clip. Elizabethan England was home to many interesting characters. including the tribunal fool. The fool was a specialised sap. the buffoon to the Crown. placed one measure below the queen—literally. since he usually sat at the queen’s pess. Though some fools were simply simple fools—singled out for their interesting physical abnormalcies or bawdy wit that a male monarch or queen found amusing—most tribunal fools were chosen for their humor and trickeries. Those chosen fools are an mystery in ways: valued for their gags and cockamamie nature. and yet they still had the ear of the queen.

In many ways. the tribunal fool was one of the few people allowed to talk honestly to a sovereign without fright of penalty. Protected behind a mask of stupidity and personal appeal. the intelligent fool possessed a relationship with royalty that few others could equal. One individual. before Shakespeare. helped set up the tribunal fool as a character and did so through his phase and real-life portraiture of the fool. He was Richard Tarlton. histrion and favourite fool of Queen Elizabeth. Though Tarlton may non be a familiar name today. he enjoyed much celebrity in Elizabethan England. Richard Tarlton served as Elizabeth’s favored fool from about 1579 to his decease in 1588. Tarlton was known to talk out to the queen on juncture. In one case. noted by Beatrice Otto. Tarlton told the queen that he believed she was falling excessively much under the sway of Walter Raleigh. For this abuse. Tarlton received merely a royal sulk ( 203 ) . Therefore. Shakespeare’s theoretical account of fools talking out to their several sovereign has precedency.

Tarlton’s jesterdom would supply Shakespeare a historically-accessible theoretical account for his fool characters. But Tarlton’s influence on Shakespeare was non confined to his function as a fool entirely. Tarlton was besides an histrion. largely portraying ( what else? ) fools on phase. Another facet of Tarlton’s popularity and influence was his celebrity as an histrion. Otto claims that Tarlton became “a family name in tap houses. theatres and the tribunal. welcomed at the castle. recognized in the street” ( 203 ) . Tarlton was frequently noted as a gifted histrion. but he specialized in the function of the sap. Most likely. his real-life experience as a tribunal fool fed into his moving endowments. Many of his lines were improvised or changed as he saw fit to do a gag.

Shakespeare is frequently credited with making the literary figure of the tribunal fool. but Tarlton’s influence is good deserving admiting. Though Tarlton died before Shakespeare wrote the functions of Feste. Touchstone. and the Fool. each character shows some of Tarlton’s influence. Another individual partially responsible for the creative activity of Shakespeare’s tribunal fools was Robert Armin. a pupil of Tarlton and an histrion well-suited to the assortment coat. Armin was the boy of a seamster and became an learner to a goldworker ( Gray 676 ) . but fortuitously he was saved from this calling by Tarlton. He trained under the actor-jester for the last four old ages of Tarlton’s life. Soon after Tarlton’s instructions. Armin became a member of Shakespeare’s company sometime between 1599 and 1600. Tarlton may hold trained Armin. but the pupil made a name for himself. Even before Tarlton’s influence. Armin appeared to hold a deep involvement in the saps and lunatics of the universe. He felt certain empathy toward monsters and “naturals. ” those born with a lower intelligence or mental unwellness.

He claimed one such “natural. ” John O’ the Hospital. as an “old acquaintance” ( Gray 682 ) and purportedly pulled much of his moving from this friend. The bulk of his plants. Nest of Ninnies and particularly Fooles Upon Fooles. trade with his observation of these “naturals. ” Just like his instructor. Armin seemed to hold gained his ability to move as a sap through survey of real-life saps. Armin’s moving. though. was a little more reserved than Tarlton’s manner. As a consequence. Armin stuck to his lines much more than Tarlton of all time did. This fact more than anything might hold pushed Shakespeare to make better functions for his saps. as he knew that Armin would adhere more closely to the function. Austin Gray claims that Armin really played the functions of Touchstone. Feste. and the Fool ( 676 ) . What is non known for certain is the sum of influence Armin had on the creative activity of these functions. There is a clear displacement in the character of Shakespeare’s “fools” at the same clip as Armin’s reaching in Shakespeare’s company.

Otto believes that Armin at least influenced the creative activity of Touchstone. which can about be proven by day of the months ( 205 ) . No tribunal fool appeared in Shakespeare’s plants before AsYou Like It. which was written in the same twelvemonth that Armin joined The Chamberlain’s Men. Gray goes much further in his appraisal of Armin’s influence. Gray provinces. “ [ Shakespeare ] allowed [ Armin ] the fullest self-expression in his dramas. ” proposing that Armin is more responsible for the functions than Shakespeare. a possibility made easier to believe by Shakespeare’s nature. As stated above. “The Bard” was sensitive to the universe around him and would do full usage of a endowment like Armin. Shakespeare must hold seen a “fresher. more sympathetic” fool in Armin. due in portion to Armin’s understanding for naturals. which helped impact the alteration in his word picture of the tribunal fools ( Gray 683 ) . Another hint to Armin’s influence is the sum of singing attributed to the characters of Feste. Touchstone. and the Fool. The most obvious illustration of this is in the vocals of Twelfth Night.

Armin was known to hold a beautiful vocalizing voice and to be a author of laies ; it is really likely that Feste. who sings multiple times in the drama and is besides complimented upon his voice. was created with Armin in head for the function. Gray assumes that the function was created for Armin. and his lone uncertainty is as to whether or non Armin wrote the vocals ( 684 ) . Likewise. King Lear points to an Armin influence. in that non merely the Fool but besides Lear and “Tom O’ Bedlam” are touched by a spot of lunacy and yet treated sympathetically. Once once more Grey points out that this evidently shows Armin’s persuasion: “Here is Armin’s ain wit of lunacy run riot” ( 684 ) . Armin’s captivation with naturals and his endowment at singing are commonalties that point to his influence in these plants. but he was non Shakespeare’s merely motive for making the functions of the Fool. Feste. and Touchstone.

Shakespeare was no uncertainty influenced in many different ways to make his tribunal fools. including historic theoretical accounts and new moving endowments. but most likely the greatest factor behind the creative activity of the characters lies within the plants. Shakespeare could non make cookie-cutter theoretical accounts of tribunal fools and merely glue them into his shows. He had to make fully-fleshed characters. and they must be understood as characters. Each serves a distinguishable intent in their several plants. which can be derived from their character traits. interactions. and how they compliment the intent of the work. AsYou Like It’s Touchstone. chronologically Shakespeare’s foremost fool. serves his function as less of a tribunal fool and more of a observer on all human being. Indeed. he is the lone fool to abandon his maestro. Duke Ferdinand. get awaying to the forests of Arden. It can be argued. though. that he is simply following the orders of his kept woman. Celia. In many ways. it appears that Shakespeare is experiencing out a usage for the tribunal fool in AsYou Like It.

At first glimpse. Standard may look to be a ailing written. or at the least. unsympathetic character. largely because of his coarseness and the intervention he receives from his higher-ups. Evidence back uping this position can be found early in the drama. His first visual aspect is non really impressive. He is easy overrun by Celia after a brief exchange of humor. Gray. who believes that Touchstone was Armin’s greatest function. asserts that it could be the effort to conceal his marbless in Fredrick’s tribunal that keeps the fool from demoing as much of his intelligence as he could ( 885 ) . Another account for the absence of Touchstone’s seize with teething humor in the beginning of the drama is that Armin joined the drama after Shakespeare had started composing it.

It is wholly possible that the beginning is a apparatus for the more physical saps of Shakespeare’s earlier works before he had Armin in head ( Gray 884 ) . Touchstone’s ailments upon his reaching in Arden seem to turn out his “physical” failing: Rosalind. O Jupiter. how weary are my liquors! Standard. I care non for my liquors. if my legs were non weary. ( II. four. 1-3 ) And a small subsequently Touchstone once more complains: “Ay. now am I in Ardenne ; the more fool I. / When I was at place I was in a better topographic point ; but / travellers must be content” ( II. four. 14-16 ) . This sense of failing farther supports the possibility that Shakespeare was experimenting and had non yet perfected his tribunal fool characters and the degree of humor that appears in the ulterior characters of Feste and the Fool. Harold Bloom argues that Touchstone is a character full of largely “indeliberate travesties” and calls him “truly rancid” ( 218 ) . Bloom besides makes many mentions to Rosalind’s besting of Touchstone. declaring that she is superior in humor and the ways of the universe.

Bloom states that Touchstone’s chief intent is to function as his namesake—a standard is one who can find pure gold from assorted alloys—proving the “true gold of Rosalind’s spirit” ( 218 ) . Did Shakespeare make the character of Touchstone. his first tribunal fool. merely to do others look better by comparing? It is improbable. sing that there are many defences to Touchstone’s looking lower status. Many of Touchstone’s qualities. such as his coarseness and inclination to kick. may conceal a greater intent. Shakespeare most probably created Touchstone to function as a lampooner. Robert Hillis Goldsmith supports Touchstone’s early ailments and coarse nature as an onslaught on the pastoral tradition. Many of the characters make mention to the beauty of the pastoral. a common subject in Elizabethan England. Duke Senior speaks of his expatriate like a holiday to bask the beauty of nature: Hath non old usage made this life more sweet Than that of painted gaudery? Are non these forests More free from hazard than the covetous tribunal?

And this our life. relieve from public hangout. Discoveries linguas in trees. books in the running Brooks. Sermons in rocks. and good in everything. ( II. I. 2-5. 15-20 ) Touchstone destroys this romantic ideal by kicking of walking through the wood and want he were back in the tribunal. Touchstone farther shows his humor and disdain for Arden—sometimes suggested to stand for Eden—when Corin asks what he thinks of the wood: Corin. And how like you this shepherd’s life. Master Touchstone? Touch. Truly. shepherd. in regard of itself. it is a good life ; but in regard that it is a shepherd’s life. it is naught. In regard that it is a lone. I like it really good ; but in regard that it is private. it is a really despicable life. Now in regard it is in the Fieldss. it pleaseth me good ; but in regard it is non in the tribunal. it is boring. As it is a trim life. look you. It fits my temper good ; but as there is no more enough in it. it goes much against my tummy. ( III. two. 11-21 ) The jester’s ailments are transformed to lampoon. express joying off the romantic ideals of Arden. Touchstone’s true ability is to screen through the inferior “alloy” of pastoral life to happen the “gold” of world. But the pastoral tradition is non the lone Elizabethan ideal that withers from Touchstone’s mastermind.

Another topic that dances upon Touchstone’s seize with teething lingua is romanticism. Standard reveals his disdain for love affair about every bit shortly as he enters Arden. Standard and Rosalind come upon the shepherd Silvius and hear him complain of the stabs of love in melodramatic mode. Rosalind responds as the Renaissance romantic: “Alas. hapless shepherd. searching of thy lesion. / I have by difficult escapade found mine own” ( II. four. 41-42 ) . to which Touchstone counters in a much less romantic set: “We that are true lovers / run into unusual capers. But as all is mortal in nature. / so is all nature in love person in folly” ( II. four. 50-52 ) . And when Rosalind declares that she is in love with this pastoral romance— “Jove. Jove. this shepherd’s passion / is much upon my fashion” ( II. four. 56-57 ) — Touchstone complains of boredom—“it grows something stale with / me” ( II. four. 58 ) .

Touchstone’s societal sarcasm touches upon the more general facet of matrimony toward the terminal. Shakespeare is utilizing Touchstone’s coarseness and sarcastic nature to reflect upon society. Gray believes that in the “sardonic philosopher” of Touchstone. Shakespeare created the “household fool in excelsis” ( 683 ) . The coarse buffoon of Bloom’s description is alternatively a sap who is excessively cognizant of the folly around him to talk so lightly of it. Another facet of Touchstone’s character is revealed through the intervention he receives from the other characters. He is degraded by Rosalind and Celia. while besides being extolled by Jacques. Touchstone’s gags and mode invariably earn him dismissals and baning from Rosalind and Celia. This can be explained easy as the tribunal jester’s acquiescence to his higher-ups. a inquiry of hierarchy. non intelligence.

Goldsmith declares this behaviour to be the responsibility of the fool: “Fools served a dual map ; to entertain their Masterss or kept womans and at the same clip to curate to their sense of ego importance” ( 885 ) . Merely as with Tarlton. Touchstone frequently goes against his mistress’s wants. but Touchstone is rapidly silenced. particularly at the beginning of the drama. This is non to state that Touchstone is a weak character ; instead. it is cogent evidence of his wisdom to cognize when to be soundless. Standard makes mention to this when he describes the “degrees of the prevarication.

”Touchstone tells Jacques that he was willing to reason with a courtier about the cut of his face fungus through the first six phases of the argument—“the Retort Courteous. ” “the Quip Modest. ” “the Reply Churlish. ” “The Reproof Valiant. ” “the Countercheck Quarrelsome. ” and “the Lie Circumstantial”—but he stopped before “the Lie Direct. ” and they were able to portion in peace ( V. iv. 71-80 ) . Shakspere shows that the tribunal jester’s freedom to talk is non complete in the presence of royalty. Yet Touchstone has more freedom to talk of others’ follies than anyone else in the drama. His power is amplified through the motley-worshipping Jacques. If Rosalind and Celia work against Touchstone’s influence. it is Jacques who invariably restores the clown’s clout. The melancholy Jacques has few minutes of elation in the drama. most of which come from his conversations with Touchstone.

Jacques relates his first meeting to the Duke with hardly checked emotion. evident in his repeat of “A sap. a sap. I met a sap i’th’ wood. / A assortment fool” ( II. seven. 12-13 ) . Jacques dotes upon the life of a sap. going “ambitious for a assortment coat” ( II. seven. 43 ) . He even suggests that a fool could salvage the universe from itself: “Invest me in my assortment. Give me go forth / To talk my head. and I will through and through / Cleanse the foul organic structure of th’infected world” ( II. seven. 58-60 ) . Jacques is reflecting upon the power and licence of the tribunal fool. Under the pretense of feigned lunacy or merely in the name of wit. the fool can convey the mistakes of any adult male. high or low. into inquiry and therefore one measure closer to repairing. The fool enjoys another added protection from requital because anyone who speaks against the sap is admiting his gags for truth. As Jacques provinces: And they that are most chafed with my folly. They most must express joy He that a sap doth really sagely hit Doth really unwisely. although he smart. Seem aught but senseless of the British shilling. If non. The wise man’s folly is anatomized Even by the wasting glimpses of the sap. ( II. seven. 50-51. 53-57 ) Jacques is non the merely 1 to praise Touchstone’s humor.

It seems that apart from Rosalind and Celia. Touchstone enjoys a consentaneous consent to his superior humor. Corin. another shepherd. declares Touchstone to hold “too courtly a humor for me” ( III. two. 68 ) . William. Touchstone’s brief challenger to his married woman. Audrey. is rapidly and wholly defeated by Touchstone’s crisp lingua. Even the good Duke Senior compliments the sap. naming him “swift and sententious” ( V. four. 62 ) . The bulk of characters—discounting the weight of a chief character like Rosalind—accept the position of Touchstone’s possessing an intelligent. though petroleum. humor. In Touchstone. there is a clear displacement from the bawdry. physical comedy of Shakespeare’s early saps to the clever. weighty humor of the newer tribunal fools. Shakespeare merely expanded upon the utilizations of the fool as he continued composing. Twelfth Night’s Feste. the 2nd of Shakespeare’s fools. seems to be an betterment upon the humor of Touchstone and the word picture of the tribunal fool every bit good.

Feste possesses many of the same qualities as his literary male parent. Standard. and yet has his ain alone traits and intents. Whereas Touchstone’s map seems to be chiefly that of a lampooner and cosmopolitan observer on the human status. Feste is a character more concerned with exposing single folly for the improvement of his loved 1s. One of the first differences presented in the character of Feste is his trueness. Standard was more kindred to the rolling sap. while Feste remains with the girl of his maestro. Feste besides appears to be looking after the well-being of Olivia. He is a sap that makes full usage of his licence to talk his head. talking out for Olivia. Yet his humors have a intent in the drama. unlike Touchstone’s. whose service largely as go throughing remarks. Feste appears to be the most mature and reasonable character in the drama. an knowing sarcasm on Shakespeare’s portion in that he is the “fool” of the drama. At the gap of the drama. Feste has fallen out of his mistress’s favour.

Feste rapidly and calmly brings himself back into Olivia’s good graces while besides uncovering her folly. Almost childishly Feste responds to the instructions “Take the sap away” with the simplistic “Do you non hear. chaps? Take away the lady” ( I. v. 3536 ) . Yet this proves to be portion of a more luxuriant humor. Feste asks for a opportunity to gain his right to stay by turn outing Olivia to be the sap: Feste. Good Madonna. why mournest 1000? Olivia. Good sap. for my brother’s decease. Feste. I think his psyche is in snake pit. Madonna. Olivia. I know his psyche is in Eden. sap. Feste. The more sap. Mary. to mourn for your brother’s psyche. being in Eden. Take away the sap. gentlemen. ( I. v. 62-68 ) In this manner. Feste displays his humor. repossess his mistress’s favour. and shows her melancholy to be unneeded. Olivia even defends Feste’s right to talk in such a manner—“There is no / slander in an allowed sap. though he make nil but / rail” ( I. v. 89-91 ) .

Though this freedom is a common subject with Shakespeare’s fools. Feste seems to do most constructive usage of the licence. which is another difference between Feste and Touchstone. Feste’s wit is bright compared to Touchstone’s sardonic humor ; he relieves melancholy every bit certainly as Touchstone produces it. There is none of the coarseness or aggressive nature of Touchstone. Bloom describes Feste as “the most charming of all Shakespeare’s fools” ( 244 ) . Even in the one scene of the drama where Feste uses his humor deceptively—tricking Malvolio into believing he is Sir Topaz—Feste shows his affability by allowing the captive Malvolio his want for pen and paper. The vocals of Feste besides prove his merry nature. Touchstone sings briefly. while Feste has many chances to sing and even closes the drama in vocal. Feste is even able to finely admonish Duke Orsino’s love-sickness in vocal.

When asked for a love vocal. he sings a vocal about deceasing from unanswered love. Alan S. Downer believes the vocal to be “mocking. indirectly. the Duke’s passion” ( 263 ) . Feste once more appears to seek to deliver a character from “the melancholy god” with common sense. Feste’s humor is gentler than Touchstone’s. but it is no less crisp. Feste’s cheerful humor possesses all the power of Touchstone’s sarcastic wit. despite the deficiency of aggression. The cogent evidence of Feste’s genius—as with most things—is in the pudding or. instead. the wordplay. Olivia breaks out of her melancholy and manages to impact the swooning Orsino. Possibly his greatest mastermind is in his playful raillery with Viola: Viola. Dost thou unrecorded by thy tabour? Feste. No. sir. I live by the church. Viola. Art thou a cleric? Feste. No such affair. sir. I do unrecorded by the church. for I do live at my house. and my house doth stand by the church. ( III. I. 2-7 ) Feste so examines his ain humor. doing the observation that “A sentence is / but a cheveril baseball mitt to a good humor. How rapidly the / incorrect side may be turned outward! ” ( III. I. 11-13 ) .

This intelligent. blithe humor is appreciated by all of the characters in the drama and yet still allows Feste to finish his map in the drama. which. harmonizing to Downer. is to expose the “artificial. foolish attitudes of the chief figures” ( 264 ) . Unlike Goldsmith’s description of Touchstone. who panders to his higher-ups. Feste uses his less aggressive jesting to convey out their mistakes. Feste. in joke. is merely every bit effectual as Standard. But the mistakes of the Lords in Twelfth Night and the follies of adult male in AsYou Like It can non compare to the weaknesss of the characters in King Lear ; Lear’s fool. in bend. must hold a much stronger presence and greater humor to cover with the insufficiencies of that universe. The Fool of King Lear can certainly be seen as a apogee of Shakespeare’s saps.

Lear’s Fool expands upon the already-explored avenues of place. wit. and purpose. In comparing with the old fools. the Fool seems to be a more sedate character. which could be due to the terrible difference between the genres of Shakespeare’s comedies and calamities. Yet the characters of the fools still have similarities that traverse that spread. As with Feste. Lear’s Fool is loyal to his maestro. but the Fool’s trueness seems stronger than Feste’s. The Fool portions a strong bond with Lear. Whereas both Feste and Touchstone seem unwelcome in their first visual aspect. the Fool is decidedly sought after at the start of King Lear. The Fool and King Lear portion a relationship non seen before in the other fools and their Masterss. Lear is cognizant plenty of his fool’s emotions that he knows that the Fool girls Cordelia ( I. iv. 71-74 ) . Often Lear uses the phrase “boy” and even “my reasonably knave” to mention to his sap. and Fool answers with “nuncle. ” making a sense of a foster father-child relationship. Yet the relationship is about backwards at most points of the drama.

The relationship is more like that of an impatient pupil and a witty instructor. with Lear playing the portion of the pupil. When Lear dispassionately responds to his sap. “Teach me. ” he assumes the function of pupil but non the responsibilities. for he ne’er genuinely listens ( I. four. 136 ) . The instructor so begins to mock the pupil. arousing some of Lear’s choler and possibly insanity. In this. the Fool exercises the most thorough licence to talk out of any of Shakespeare’s fools. Though Lear may go enraged by his sap. he ne’er stops caring for him. This is apparent at the terminal of the drama. where Lear evokes the presence of the absent sap as he remarks on Cordelia’s dead organic structure: “And my hapless sap is hanged” ( V. three. 281 ) . The Fool proves to be merely as loyal. remaining with Lear throughout his expatriate and being the first one to inquire him to come out of the storm.

The lone exclusion is the Fool’s unusual disappearing after Act III. This relationship besides makes the Fool the tribunal fool who speaks out the most to his maestro. The Fool does non O.K. of Lear’s determination to give his land to Regan and Goneril and reiterate his warnings. despite the choler it causes Lear: Fool. How now. nuncle? Would I had two cockscombs and two girls. Lear. Why. my male child? Fool. If I gave them all my life. I’d maintain my cockscomb myself. There’s mine ; beg another of thy girls. Lear. Take attentiveness. sirrah—the whip. Fool. Truth’s a Canis familiaris must to kennel. He must be whipped out when the Lady Brach may stand by th’ fire and malodor.

Lear. A pestilent saddle sore to me! ( I. iv. 106-115 ) The Fool does non fear the whip and speaks ( as Goneril titles him ) as the “alllicensed fool” ( I. four. 183 ) . Yet he does this out of love for his male monarch. and it may merely be the king’s returned love that holds back the whip. Equally much as Lear attentions for his rogue. the other characters show small love for the king’s sap. The Fool suffers everything from straight-out maltreatment to finish neglect at from the other characters in King Lear. Regan and Goneril turn out the Fool as an extension of their male parent. Goneril uses her father’s fool as portion of an alibi to convert Lear to abandon most of his attenders: “Not merely. sir. this your alllicensed sap. / But other of your insolent cortege / Do hourly cavil and dispute. interrupting forth / In rank and not-to-be endured riots” ( I. iv. 198-201 ) . Goneril uses the rubric “all-licensed” to reprobate Lear for leting his sap excessively much privilege. Regan does non even acknowledge the Fool when she turns Lear off. Kent seems to simply digest the Fool. And Edgar. as Tom O’ Bedlam. competes with the sap in both humor and madness. That touch of madness separates the Fool from the other two fools.

King Lear nowadayss a universe gone huffy ; it is suiting that the fool should be touched by that lunacy. if non so much as other characters. His random outbursts into song support the sense that the Fool is non believing in a additive. rational manner. Another case of his lunacy is in the unusual prognostication in Act III. where the Fool makes mention to Albion and Merlin. It is a harangue that appears out of topographic point in the remainder of the drama. Yet for all his seeming lunacy. the Fool seems more rational than Lear toward the center of the drama. Shakespeare once more captures the sarcasm of a “fool” being saner than the taking characters. But sarcasm is non the merely intent behind the Fool’s comparative saneness. Another intent for the Fool’s “voice of reason” in a huffy universe is interpreting Lear and the drama to the audience. Bloom calls the Fool a “surrogate” who voices the audience’s true feelings ( 494 ) . The Fool invariably reinforces Lear’s self-accusation with assorted images and catechisms. baring his foolishness to the audience: “Thou hast pared thy humor o’ both sides and left / nil i’th’ middle” ( I. iv. 168-169 ) ; “Thou shouldst non hold been old boulder clay thou hadst / been wise” ( I. v. 43-44 ) ; and “May non an buttocks know when the cart draws the / Equus caballus? ” ( I. iv. 206-207 ) .

When Lear rails against the storm. it is the Fool who begs the male monarch to come inside: “He that has a house to set ‘s caput in has a good / headplace” ( III. two. 25-26 ) . The Fool besides has minutes that seem beyond the appreciation of a simple sap: deep contemplations upon Lear. Before his cryptic going. the Fool predicts his king’s descent to madness: “This cold dark will turn us all to saps and madmen” ( III. four. 73 ) . The Fool does so state the king the blunt truth every bit frequently as he covers it with conundrums. In one of the most affecting exchanges of the drama. the Fool delivers to his king an reply that is both truth and conundrum. Lear begs of anyone. “Who is it that can state me who I am? ” to which the Fool replies compactly. “Lear’s shadow” ( I. iv. 212-213 ) . This seems to be portion of a unusual bond shared by the Fool and Lear. Whether it is merely a long friendly relationship that allows them to understand each other or Lear’s touching upon the lunacy normally associated with a sap. the Fool and Lear comprehend one another so good that they about speak as one individual.

About all of Lear’s interior workings of his head are addressed to the Fool. Indeed. Lear’s first cognition of his daughter’s treachery is conveyed through the Fool. After Goneril reveals her purposes to turn away Lear’s attenders. there is a brief intermission. into which the Fool sings: “‘The hedge-sparrow fed the fathead so long / That it had its caput spot off by its immature. ’ / So. out went the taper. and we were left darkling” ( I. iv. 213-5 ) . The Fool is stating Lear that it is the king’s ain mistake for being turned away: “Thou mad’st thy / girls thy mothers” ( I. iv. 169-70 ) . Though the Fool is concealing the truth in the pretense of metaphor. Lear seems to understand the words of his Fool better than the apparent 1s of his girl. The jester’s words are non ever so weighty. though. Unlike the other two tribunal fools. the Fool resides in the universe of calamity. and his wit serves a different intent than that of the fool in a comedy. Humor is frequently employed in a calamity to alleviate the earnestness created by the nature of a dramatic state of affairs. but in King Lear. the Fool’s wit has a different consequence. Otto believes that the Fool’s wit really leads into greater agony ( 207 ) .

Is a calamity non heightened by minutes of levity? The Fool certainly plays a dual function in that case. He creates non merely the wit but frequently the tragic component every bit good. Most of his gags are abuses to Lear. doing his wit sound bitter. If he alleviates the male monarch of his concerns for a minute. it is “only to so convey him back down to earth with a thump of truth” ( Otto 208 ) . Lear’s Fool serves both Gray’s and Downer’s definition of the sap ; he both entertains his maestro and makes his mistakes glaringly obvious. Of the three saps. it is impossible to keep one as the criterion or to find which source—Tarlton. Armin. or Shakespeare—was more accountable. Does one fool come closer to the historic theoretical account presented by Tarlton?

Standard seems the more reticent ( in the sense of non talking out against the royalty ) and credible of the fools in this regard. yet Feste shows more of the support and existent traffics within the political relations of tribunal expected of a higher fool. The Fool appears to be excessively strong a character to hold genuinely existed and survived the disposition of a true male monarch. Besides. Otto claims it is non possible to pull the line between the historical and literary sap: It is impossible that the literary and stage sap would non be influenced by the historical fool. or exert influence on him. like two circles. one historical and one literary. that would ne’er overlap…history and literature are non enclosed in impermeable membranes. ( 203-204 ) Shakespeare’s fools could be representations of true tribunal fools or simply literary contemplations used to foster the dramatic state of affairss of his dramas ; it is impossible to find which is more accurate. and it is unneeded. While it is interesting to prosecute the historicity of Shakespeare’s saps. it is improbable that Shakespeare’s chief ground for composing the characters stemmed from their existent being.

He was a adult male given to imaginativeness and is improbable to hold been content with simply reiterating precisely what he saw. The historical fool was non the lone inspiration for integrating tribunal fools into the dramas of Shakespeare. Tarlton thrived for many old ages before Shakespeare wrote the dramas Twelfth Night. AsYou Like It. and King Lear. He had plentifulness of chance to determine an earlier fool character from the historical cast. It must hold been another influence outside history that prompted the creative activity of Shakespeare’s “roynish” buffoons. Possibly it was Armin who created the functions of Feste. Touchstone. and Lear’s Fool ; certainly his presence is felt in each. Feste displays many qualities associated with Armin’s reading of the tribunal fool: intelligence. clean humor. and a love of wordplaies. Feste has an intelligent humor that does non trust on doing any vulgar gags.

Feste’s greatest gags come from his ability to writhe words. which Armin was merely every bit wont as Shakespeare to make. The sap of Twelfth Night is besides the most musical of the saps. Feste sings for the company of Toby. and he is asked to sing for Orsino because of his “mellifluous” voice. The other fools of Shakespeare engage in song—Lear’s Fool explosion into vocal spontaneously and repeatedly—but merely Feste is praised for his vocalizing. The lone trait that Feste does non hold in common with what is known about Armin is his concern with “naturals” and lunatics. It is Lear’s Fool that most expose the features of the lunatics that Armin studied. The king’s sap tortures his maestro without looking to recognize the consequence it has. driving Lear more insane alternatively of assisting continue his saneness. The Fool’s random vocals and sometimes self-generated effusions besides seem to be indexs that he is non in his right head. The Fool’s lunacy must hold come from Armin’s compulsion with his survey of naturals.

And as Grey provinces: Shakspere could hold easy studied such characters for himself. but was most likely drawn to them by Armin ( 685 ) . Whether Armin or Tarlton had a bigger influence in the functions is about a moot point because Shakespeare had his ain intents within the dramas for his tribunal fools. The functions of the fools have single intents to their several dramas. though it may non be readily evident. In AsYou Like It. Touchstone’s function seems easy dismissed because he has little to make with the narrative line. unless his narrative and character are considered as foils for the others. Touchstone finds love more easy than do any other characters in the drama. Audrey all of a sudden appears and instantly accepts his proposal to marriage. Even though a rival suer. William. appears at the terminal. he is no competition for Touchstone. particularly in the brief conflict of marbless that ensues. from which William retires rapidly and without reproof: “God remainder you merry. sir” ( V. I. 57 ) . In fact. Audrey does non even return hapless William’s feelings. doing the competition moot.

This is an interesting foil to Silvius’s about hopeless chase of Phoebe and Rosalind’s careful maneuvering ( which includes privacy ) if non to capture. so to develop her love. Touchstone besides figures small into the ostracism and reinstatement of the Duke. He is simply following the wants of Celia in get awaying to Arden. and from his ailments he doesn’t even desire to be at that place. Soon after making the wood. he leaves the company of his kept woman ; it appears improbable that he will rejoin their services. The tribunal life that is a secondary focal point to the play—ironically enough—has nil to make with the tribunal fool. In Twelfth Night. Feste seems even more staccato from the secret plan than Touchstone was in his drama. Feste does non even have a love involvement to function as foil to any of the characters. At first glimpse. he appears to be a courier and amusement for the tribunal. with small else commending him. Yet as Downer suggests. the secret plan would non hold missed him but that there would still hold been a certain component losing from the drama ( 261 ) .

Without Feste. it is possible that Orsino and Olivia would hold been stuck in a acrimonious melancholy with no 1 to uncover the absurdness of their pining. Feste uses wit to arouse the two out of their melancholy. Downer states that his intent is to “perceive and declare the true province of personal businesss in the face of contempt. menaces. and disheartenment from the self-deluded” ( 262 ) . Feste does look to be the one character in the drama non given to psychotic beliefs. He reflects upon self-delusion even before he encounters it in the other characters: “Those marbless that think they have [ humor ] do really / oft prove fools” ( I. v. 30-31 ) . Feste is besides the last talker of the full drama. completing the narrative with a vocal: “With hey. Ho. the air current and the rain…for the rain it raineth every twenty-four hours. ” Feste is noticing on the drama and the existent universe ( V. i. 385-404 ) . The chorus of his song—“the rain it raineth every day”—echoes after the stopping point of the drama to state that no affair what foolish lives persons live. nature and life continue unaffected.

The Fool in King Lear plays a function similar to that of Feste in that the Fool affects little in manner of the plot line but has an consequence upon the characters. Lear seems to be driven closer and closer to insanity ; the Fool quickens Lear’s disintegrating head by invariably reminding him of his foolish determination to manus his land over to Regan and Goneril. The Fool is non malicious. He is merely seeking to do Lear recognize his error. and he is the merely 1 to whom Lear will listen. The Fool serves as Lear’s one changeless comrade. and despite the fact that he seems to add to Lear’s descent into lunacy. the Fool’s presence provides the male monarch with some comfort. It is merely after the Fool’s disappearing that Lear goes mad. Each of these characters has a specialized intent. but they besides serve general intents as tribunal fools under the fictional employ of Shakespeare. Just as they portion common factors from their beginning. Shakespeare’s fools have common maps as characters. Otto points out one such cosmopolitan quality: “They amuse and entertain. stand on the out of boundss and observe. and act as a control against which to mensurate the foolishness of others” ( 187 ) .

The amusement facet is readily evident. William Shakespeare loved pun. apparent in all of his plants. It makes sense that he would be attracted to characters that turn puns into a profession. Court fools besides provided Shakespeare with an instant beginning of sarcasm. The tribunal fool is a character who is defined as a sap and yet can talk with intelligence. Shakespeare frequently plays on the word “fool. ” because with the presence of fools it becomes both a rubric and abuse. In King Lear. the Fool wisely warns Lear that people who are thought loyal frequently run off at the first mark of danger. Kent seems a spot taken aback by the Fool’s wisdom. naming it into inquiry: “Where learned you this. Fool? ”The Fool responds. mocking Kent’s current state of affairs. “Not i’ th’ stocks. fool” ( II. two. 259-260 ) . Feste likewise offers his rubric as abuse to the Lady Olivia: “I wear / non motley in my encephalon. Good Madonna. give me go forth / to turn out you a fool” ( I. v. 53-55 ) . He is stating his kept woman that though he is a sap by profession. she is the sap in fact.

In all their dramas. Feste. Touchstone. and particularly Lear’s Fool frequently voice philosophical ( if non common ) sense. though they are “fools. ”The Fool attempts to take Lear aright. Standard rises above senseless love affair. and Feste deludes the self-deluded. There is rich sarcasm in a drama where the aristocracy are saps and the sap is baronial. Another map of the sap is as a societal observer. Bloom says that at least one of the fools. Feste. made remarks approximately society as “one of [ Shakespeare’s ] rare surrogates” ( 245 ) . He is talking non merely about society but for Shakespeare every bit good. One of the benefits of utilizing a tribunal fool as a societal critic is that merely a sap is allowed to do critical remarks about royalty. Queen Elizabeth was known to maintain dramas from the phase if they bespoke ailment of her. though she allowed it of Tarlton. Thus. Feste. Touchstone. and Lear’s Fool are non censored from speaking about royalty in the same manner as everyone else.

The jesters’ common commentary touches on certain topics more than others. One such topic is love and its frequent contingency. matrimony. Feste Muses in vocal that love is something to be enjoyed and non delayed: “What is love? ‘Tis non hereafter. / Present mirth hath present laughter” ( II. three. 46-47 ) . Feste is an older adult male talking from experience non to blow clip. as Olivia does by mourning and Orsino does by aching. He warns them. as he does the audience. “Youth’s a material will non endure” ( II. three. 51 ) . In AsYou Like It. Touchstone makes more acrimonious comments about love. He describes matrimony as a restricting responsibility ; adult male must be married as “the ox hath his bow. sir. the Equus caballus his / kerb. and the falcon her balls” ( III. three. 72-73 ) . Lear’s Fool is even more embittered by the idea of love. He appears to be the oldest of the fools and must talk from the most experience. yet one of his lone remarks is upon adult females in general: “There was ne’er yet just adult female but she made / oral cavities in the glass” ( III. two. 3536 ) . It is an old stating mentioning to a adult female practising a face in the mirror.

The Fool uses it to demo all adult females as con-artists. One other topic that all the fools speak to is the foolishness of adult male. particularly the adult male who believes himself to be intelligent. It is one of Shakespeare’s favourite sarcasms: the wise sap and the foolish wiseman. Touchstone declinations that the manner of the universe is backwards: “The more commiseration that saps may non talk sagely / what wise work forces make foolishly” ( I. i. 82-83 ) . Feste believes it better to believe one foolish than wise. He even is so modest as to recognition his ideas to another: “For what says Quinapalus? —‘Better a witty sap than a foolish wit’” ( I. v. 32-33 ) .

The saps know themselves to be what they are and seem to be merely waiting for the other characters to demo their ain foolish natures. Possibly they know themselves better than anyone can. Shakespeare may hold been inspired by outside influences to make the characters of Feste. Touchstone. and the Fool. but he fleshed out the historic theoretical account of the tribunal fools and transformed them into digesting literary figures. The gay Feste may be drawn chiefly from Armin’s moving ; the huffy Fool may be a consequence of analyzing “naturals” ; and the petroleum Touchstone may be Tarlton’s shade dressed in assortment. Most likely they are a combination of all those elements. filtered through the imaginativeness of a adult male with a endowment for authorship.

Plants Cited

Bloom. Harold. Shakspere: The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead. 1998. Cahn. Victor L. The Plays of Shakespeare: A Thematic Guide. Westport: Greenwood. 2001. Fallon. Robert Thomas. A Theatergoer’s Guide to Shakespeare’s Themes. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. 2002. Downer. Alan S. “Feste’s Night. ” College English. Feb. 1952: 13. JSTOR. Galileo. William & A ; Evelyn Banks Lib. . LaGrange. GA. 10 Apr. 2006. Goldsmith. Robert Hillis. “Touchstone: A Critic in Motley. ” PMLA. Sept. 1953: 68. JSTOR. Galileo. William & A ; Evelyn Banks Lib. . LaGrange. GA. 10 Apr. 2006. Gray. Austin K. “Robert Armin: The Fool. ” PMLA. Sept. 1927: 42. JSTOR. Galileo. William & A ; Evelyn Banks Lib. . LaGrange. GA. 10 Apr. 2006. Green. Lawrence D. “Where’s My Fool? : Some Consequences of the Omission of the Fool in Tate’s Lear. ” Studies in English Literature. Spring 1972: 12. JSTOR. Galileo. William & A ; Evelyn Banks Lib. . LaGrange. GA. Aug. 2005. Kaiser. Walter Jacob. Praisers of Folly: Erasmus. Rabelais. Shakespeare. Cambridge: Harvard UP. 1963. Klapp. Orrin E. “The Fool as a Social Type. ” The American Journal of Sociology. Sept. 1949: 55. JSTOR. Galileo. William & A ; Evelyn Banks Lib. . LaGrange. GA. Aug. 2005. —- . “Heroes. Villains and Fools. as Agents of Social Control. ” American Sociological Review. Feb. 1954: 19. JSTOR. Galileo. William & A ; Evelyn Banks Lib. . LaGrange. GA. 10 Apr. 2006. Martin. William F. The Insoluble Knot: King Lear as Ironic Drama. Lanham: UP of America. 1987. Otto. Beatrice K. Fools Are Everywhere. Chicago: Chicago UP. 2000. Reibetanz. John. The Lear World. Toronto: Toronto UP. 1997. Shakespeare. William. AsYou Like It. Eds. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. NewYork: Oxford UP. 1988. —- . King Lear. Eds. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. NewYork: Oxford UP. 1988. —- . Twelfth Night. Eds. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. NewYork: Oxford UP. 1988.