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Touchstone is a fictional character in Shakespeare's play As You Like It. Touchstone is a natural fool in the court of Duke Frederick. Throughout the play he comments on the other characters and thus, contributes to a better understanding of the play. Touchstone falls in love with a dull-witted goat girl named Audrey. William, an oafish country boy, makes clumsy attempts to woo her as well, but is driven off by Touchstone, who threatens to kill him "a hundred and fifty ways." Eventually Touchstone marries Audrey, but a prediction is made that the relationship will not last.
Touchstone is often anachronistically thought to be a witty or clever fool. However, it is referenced often in the text that he is a "natural" fool ("Fortune makes Nature's natural the cutter-off of Nature's wit", "hath sent this natural for our whetstone").
In Shakespeare's Clown, David Wiles suggests that Robert Armin played the part of Touchstone in the first productions of As You Like It (145). The addition of Armin to the Chamberlain's Men in 1599 and the character of Touchstone marked the beginning of a series of court fool characters; these characters differed greatly from earlier Shakespearean fools because their humour is mainly derived from the fool's wit and intellect. The earlier fools of this period were often nothing but stooges.
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