[In this excerpt from her classic study of the social and literary tradition of the Fool figure, Welsford describes Lear's Fool as both a commentator on dramatic events and a tragic figure in his own right. He is a "sage-fool" who intuitively knows the truth and doesn't hesitate to speak it, the critic observes, and his focus on the connection between a wise man and a fool underscores Lear's tragedy. In Welsford's judgment, the Fool disappears from the play when the king, in his madness, becomes a "wise fool" himself. Having lost his rational wits, she...
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