King Lear

Kyoami: Ran's Moral Fool

In Akira Kurosawa's transformation of King Lear into Ran, the flat character of the Lear's Fool has evolved into Hidetora's Kyoami, a character who exhibits a number of personal complexities absent from Shakespeare's Fool. Both characters have a significant and unique position in their respective dramas, yet where the Fool is a flat character with a relatively small effect on the Lear plot, Kyoami is larger, more fleshed-out figure in Ran, one whose relationship with his Great Lord offers more personal complexities than the more familiar relationship between a Western king and his jester. Ultimately, Kyoami is a more human character than the Fool, one whose crises of conscience in remaining loyal to Hidetora are a significant aspect of the film's morality.

In Lear, the Fool occupies a position in the Lear's court which would have been familiar to Shakespeare's audience. The Fool has a greater license than any other character to criticize Lear, and indeed the Fool spends much of Act I excoriating a bemused Lear, in spite of the vaguely jocular threat of a whipping. Moreover, the Fool enjoys a position of prominence in the Court with Lear as his benefactor; Lear indeed is said to have struck a gentleman...

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