Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




David Young


Shakespeare, Fool


In his essay "Jacobean Shakespeare," Maynard Mack explains the system of "mirroring" that produces Shakespeare's depth and unity. A "mirror" is an element that creates a dialogue with other elements, and weaves the thematic fabric of the play. This process takes place between motifs, parallel scenes, and characters who echo each other or "speak each other's minds." Very often, the mirroring character or catalyst is the licensed fool. with dramatic permission to say anything, and a reputation and tradition of madness, the fool both reveals the truth and obscures it with his inverted, debased, or metaphoric language. Just as an event can perpetuate the plot's development, an encounter with the fool can advance a character's development and our understanding of the play. The wise fool is provisional in the sense that his behavior is dependent on the demands the play places on him.