"Better a witty fool than a foolish wit."
- Feste in Twelth Night, Shakespeare
This April Fool's Day, learn about the Wise Fool!
The Shakespearen Fool is perhaps the most canonical fool figure in English Literature. In Shakespeare’s plays, the fool plays an extremely important role that is contrary to their superficial act as entertainers and court jesters. In fact, they are the only characters who are given agency to speak off the top of their minds — unlike the ponderous and brooding characters we otherwise encounter. Not only do they provide social commentary, very often, they also take on the role of revealing the truth of situations and/by mocking the foolishness and hypocrisy of those ranked hierarchically above them.
The truths and wisdom uttered by these Fools are often under the facade of comic relief, which turns the table on those who choose to dismiss them. This is why many refer to them as the Wise Fools.
Can you think of any modern day wise fool equivalent?