The Fool in King Lear

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The Fool is a tremendously substantial character in William Shakespeare's tragedy, King Lear. Traditionally, fools were the equivalent of court jesters and were thought to be insane. They were customarily physically and sometimes even mentally impaired. Persons became fools as the result of an aristocratic individual's compassion or boredom. Often times, fools were taken in by kings and given room and board in exchange for their tomfoolery. Fools such as Lear's were never held accountable …

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…the Fool provides Lear with insightful observations and anecdotes concerning Lear's family and the world at large. Most importantly, as Lear's conscience, the Fool displays Lear's true thoughts and feelings through the Fool's own words and conduct. The Fool is most definitely an instrumental part of the tragedy of King Lear. Based on the pivotal roles that he plays, it is apparent that King Lear without the Fool would be like peanut butter without jelly.