The Wisdom of the Fool
In a story of a king's treacherous demise by his unfaithful, scheming daughters, Shakespeare leaves little room for lightheartedness, laughter, or even reason. Family turns on each other as sisters plot out of jealousy, a truly dedicated daughter is executed, and the king dies of despair. The kingdom is left in the novice hands of the surviving characters, and the Shakespearean tragedy succeeds again in achieving ultimate sorrow and despair. In review of the play, however, one seemingly insignificant character stands alone as a figure of comic relief and a voice of reason. The fool is the sole predictor of this tragic fate and is the one man who calls out the king's idiotic decisions. As a man with no social standing and no reputation to guard, he is free to truthfully counsel Lear, without living in fear of banishment or chastisement. Shakespeare then incorporates the concept of a fool's wisdom in other characters throughout the play, creating a juxtaposition of all values as reason and honor make way for greed.
King Lear makes a mockery of himself as he puts his kingdom into the unable hands of his two scheming daughters. As king, his decision is supreme, and all those who question his authority will be immediately...
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