What is the dramatic significance of the fool in the play?

Expert Answers
coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

King Lear by William Shakespeare would be an almost impossible pit of depression to watch/read were it not for the presence of the fool. He adds a little light relief and holds the audience interest when things are bleak.This fool often seems different to all the other fools in Shakespeares plays, having the naive qualities of a what might unpolitely have been called 'the village idiot' in times gone by.He is still there to be the king's loyal supporter and devoted companion, but he is also there for the audience. He brings into sharp relief the tragic proceedings, as his bright humor becomes more and more bitter. The funny moments in the play give the drama a bittersweet poignant quality as we watch the anguish of Lear's distress and bereavement. His wisdom is diffrerent too - almost the innocence of a five year old who,on being told to hush about some contentious issue, then blurts it out like the honesty of the child in the Tale of The Emperor's New Clothes. He is also a very self-effacing,long suffering and loving fool and these qualities endear him, and importantly,his king and daughter to us the audience.

rosegarden | Student

The fool commonly conducts an interaction between himself and a person who society defines as wise by acting stupid and cunning at the same time, an interaction which would always end in the fool winning in this uneven matching of wits. The fool constantly questions our perceptions of wisdom and truth and their relationship to everyday experience.