Wednesday, 31 March 2010

King Lear

The Fool in King Lear gives counsel in the form of banter with Lear throughout the whole play. Although he is a mere jester to Lear, the Fool is able to mock Lear’s actions without any repercussion.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 his death. By doing this unnaturally, Lear must face many adverse consequences, such as losing his identity, self-worth, and respect from his daughters. .
So I like to share with some significant words said by the fool.

Mark, it nuncle.
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest,
Learn more than thou trowest,
Set less than thou throwest;
Leave thy than drink and thy whore,
And keep in-a-door,
And thou shalt have more
Than two tens to a score.

I hope that it can be useful.
Many Thanks.


  1. Of course it is v.useful..
    Thnx so much reham 4 ur nice post..

  2. The Fool in Shakespeare's King Lear, by giving advice, proper criticism, and having the intuition to sense when things are going wrong, is not a fool at all, and is a closer link to sanity than foolishness.

    Have more than thou showest.

    (Do not flaunt your power - it is better to let people think you are helpless and prove it otherwise when the time calls.)

    Lear's Fool is no ordinary Fool, and Shakespeare shows this to us immediately in several ways. The first time the audience is introduced to the Fool gives insight to the relationship the King and he share. Upon being summoned, the Fool does not appear immediately, and Lear has to call for "[his] knave, [his] fool (I.iv.40)" unsuccessfully many times. Most Elizabethan Kings would consider this disrespectful, and the Fool should have rightly been punished. However, once the Fool did finally appear, he did not amuse the King as is customary of a Fool, but instead criticized the King's decision to banish Cordelia from the kingdom. Yet even after this treatment, the king does nothing to his follower, giving the impression that the two are closer than just King and Jester, and more like friends.

    Speak less than thou knowest.

    ( Be aware of things around you, and always keep certain secrets to yourself )

    The Fool is much more blunt and straight with the King than others in his position would be with their own kings. He is not afraid to voice what he thinks, as he knows "they'll have [him] whipped for speaking true, [they will] have [him] whipped for lying, and sometimes [he will be] whipped for holding [his] peace." For example, the Fool openly states to Kent in front of Lear "If thou follow him, thou must needs wear my coxcomb (I.iii.96)." In voicing these opinions, it shows that he is not the normal court fool (normally a humourous madman taken from a nuthouse), but rather a true member of the courts who is fully aware of what is going on around him. He is so much aware, in fact, that he even truthfully tells Lear:

    " FOOL: The sweet and bitter fool

    Will presently appear

    The one in motley here

    The other found out there.

    LEAR: Dost thou call me fool, boy?

    FOOL: All thy other titles thou hast given away,

    That thou wast born with. (I.iv.134)"

    Where the Fool is a sweet fool, one that amuses and is happy with where they are, Lear would be a bitter fool, one that does not admire being called such. This presumption that the King, Kent, and all of Lear's followers are fools who should wear coxcombs is stating that the real fool is in the presence of what he deems to be fools - a hint to the chaos and insanity to follow later in the play. The Fool calls people who are not like him "foppish ... know[ing] not how their wits to wear, their manners are so apish (I.iv.156)." This critical analysis of all those who are more powerful than him gives the Fool a defining character - knowing much more than the average man, least of all the average fool.

    Ride more than thou goest, learn more than thou trowest.

    (You do not need to act to be important - gathering information and biding your time will be more beneficial.)

    The Fool is not a central character in the play as much as he is a comic relief, and a critic.

  3. Hi Manar! This critical analysis is very useful. In addition to what you've kindly said about the fool and his function, I can say two other things: Personally, I think that the Fool in this play does the same function/job that was being done by the chorus in Greek drama (Have you already studied King Oedipus?). He comments on events trying to highlight some aspects that might be unclear for King Lear. He also tries to summarise the situation and give the wisdome that should be abstracted out of it.

    Besides, I see the Fool as a clear representative of the inner human conciousness. He reveals internal (and hidden) struggles commong to human kind and the feelings that go inside man.

    Hope that this is reasonable!
    Best wishes