Recently I’ve been taking a lot of random Shakespeare quizzes online (yes, I know I am a bit strange). While I may not have mentioned this previously, I am a huge fan of Shakespeare’s plays. It seems like a weird topic for someone in her twenties to be interested in, but I relate to his characters more than I do to many modern characters. In fact, I loved his plays so much that I took an extra class in high school and another in college just devoted to his plays. But today I did not want to gush about how awesome he is (which would be much more than a daily thought). Instead, taking those quizzes made me think about one Shakespearean type of character (a.k.a., character trope).
That is, the fool.
The most obvious function of a clown is comic relief. However, to me there is some deeper function. That is, they are capable of showing the humanity and weaknesses of the king/ruler without being condemned (because, after all, it is all humor, right?). The fool is there to speak the truth in a humorous way so it is a bit easier to hear.
In many ways, comedians do this today as well.
One of my favorite quotes by a fool is one of Shakespeare’s plays is spoken by Feste in Twelth Night. “Marry, sir, they praise me, and make an ass of me; now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass: so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself: and by my friends I am abused: so that, conclusions to be as kisses, if your four negatives make your two affirmatives, why, then, the worse for my friends, and the better for my foes.”