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King Lear: The Fool

             In the play King Lear, Shakespeare makes use of his wide range of characters by including a somewhat odd one that is known as simply, the Fool. The Fool's role in the play was to counteract the King's mistakes in order to bring him to his senses. With his honesty, wit, and clever wordplay that combine foreshadowing and practical advice, the Fool entertains not only the King, but the readers as well, and brings light and humor into this play. All the characters in King Lear, besides the Fool, are interconnected and are important to the story of King Lear and his daughters and the story of Edmund, Edgar and Gloucester. The character of the Fool did not have influence over Lear's decision to divide the kingdom, nor did the Fool have any connection with the subplot. Perhaps, for this reason many readers argue over the importance of his character. One should be able to realize that the presence of the Fool did not influence the overall impact of the play and that the two major plots would have occurred with him or without him. Many people feel that the Fool should not be in this play at all. Then again many feel that the Fool is essential enough to the play that he should be included.
             The Fool is being loyal and honest to Lear no matter how painful the truth may sound. When The Fool is first brought into the play, he is playing with his hat and tells the king, " thou must needs wear my coxcomb," Which means that the king is a fool for dividing his kingdom in such a way after he asked his daughters how much they loved him (Act 1, Scene 4, line 101). In the same scene the Fool also mentions, "thou madest thy daughters thy mother," meaning that Lear has made his daughters his parents (line 168-169). One would think that in this first Act the Fool appears and speaks of reality to the King who was blinded by flatteries of his evil daughters. However, where was the Fool when the King made his decision to divide the kingdom? Obviously the King did not think it was important for the Fool to be employed in political or family matters.

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