"the more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wisemen do foolishly"-EXPLAIN THIS LINE WITH SUITABLE CONTEXT

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coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare’s play ‘As You Like It’ the girls (Rosalind and Celia) enjoy the garden of the Duke's palace, but are disturbed by The Fool (named Touchstone) who is on an errand from Celia’s father, to say he needs to see her. She wonders why he has been chosen to bear the message especially when he finishes by saying ‘by mine honor.’ She means thgat he is not sufficiently aristocratic to use that refined language and he tells her he learnt it from a knight who told him a story about pancakes. Perceiving his trivialising the issue, the girls get catty as it’s possible they think he’s mocking them.

He then intimates that the story is about her father’s friend and Celia threatens to have him whipped for his cheekiness and he is ready with a witty response  

"The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely when wise men do foolishly."

He means that she is suggesting it’s okay for clever men to talk rubbish, but not for jesters to speak the truth. Shakespeare is showing us how fools can ask relevant but impertinent and possibly treasonable questions because they are protected under their role of clownish jester.

Read the study guide:
As You Like It

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