The Fool is Lear’s jester.
The one person in court who can speak the truth to Lear without needing to fear too much, he still hides his criticisms in riddles, paradoxes and puns, and is threatened with whipping for coming too close to the mark. Others at court, especially Goneril and Regan, simply find him insolent and disapprove mightily of his presence, especially when he follows Lear to their houses. After Kent, he is the first to point out to Lear how much the King has diminished himself, a theme he harps on constantly. He is depressed when Cordelia is banished, and needles the King on the subject. A singer, he begins to sing more and more often with enigmatic songs after Cordelia’s departure. Still, he is loyal, and follows Lear into the storm, trying to get the King to take shelter. He is the first one Lear takes pity on other than himself. Sheltering in the hovel with the disguised Edgar, the Fool finds himself one of three madmen on stage, the real, the pretend and the professional (himself). As Kent begins to lead Lear towards Dover, the Fool vanishes.