Characterise the Fool in King Lear.

Expert Answers
shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare used the fool characters in various way in his plays.  It is interesting that in the case of the Fool in King Lear, he is not named.  He is the only fool in his plays without a name.  Perhaps by naming him, it would reduce him whereas being called the Fool gives the character a universality.

Lear's fool has been with the old king a very long time judging from their relationship.  He is the only character who can get away with telling Lear the truth.  Watching the old man deteriorate is painful for the Fool and often times he seems to babble nonsense.  As Lear goes mad, he believes the Fool is a wise man until he turns to Tom o' Bedlam.

The character just disappears in the play.  The only reference is when at the end of the play Lear appears with the dead Cordelia and says, "And my poor fool is hanged..."  Is this a reference to the Fool or Cordelia?

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Fool in King Lear, unlike other clowns or fools in Shakespeare's plays, has a depth of perception and character that that serves to increase the dramatic tension in the play and heighten the eventual tragedy.  For various expert opinions and details about the Fool, see below:

 ('That, of course, is the great secret of the successful fool - that he is no fool at all.' Isaac Asimov, Guide to Shakespeare )