In what sense are the Fool's assertions true or false in act 3, scene 2, of King Lear?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
In King Lear, the Fool is often wiser than the king. The Fool points this out in act I when he threatens the king's displeasure by implying that Lear is a bigger fool than he is for giving away his kingdom and spurning his youngest daughter.
In act III, the Fool's assertions are true in a commonsensical way. He would like Lear to get out of the raging storm and tells him so, saying it would be better to ask his daughters to let him in, even if it means swallowing his pride, than to stay out in a merciless downpour. The violent weather, however, expresses Lear's fury and grief, and comforts him on a psychic level.
Later in the scene, the Fool sings a song:
He that has and a little tiny wit—
With heigh-ho, the wind and the rain—
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.
By this, the Fool means that people who don't have the brains to exercise common sense must adjust themselves to their circumstances and make the best of them. This too is true—so true that even Lear agrees and says they should find a hovel to shelter in.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This scene is of course famous for the way that the enraged Lear wanders around the heath during the tempestuous storm. We already begin to see signs of Lear's madness as he addresses the storm itself, finding a fitting parallel in its fury with his own emotions. However, it is the Fool that oddly tries to make his master see reason, and shows himself to be immensely wise in his suggestion. Note what he says to Lear:

O nuncle, court holy water in a dry house is better than this rainwater out o'door. Good nuncle, in, ask thy daughters blessing. Here's a night pities neither wise men nor fools.

The Fool thus is oddly shown to be the wiser of the two characters. He recognises that the storm makes it dangerous for them to be outside, and so he urges Lear to seek the blessing and forgiveness of his daughters, humbling himself before them, so at least they can enjoy the benefits of a "dry house." However, it is King Lear who rejects his fool's wise advice and clings on to his anger and rage. Thus, there is great truth in what the Fool says in this scene.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team