Silly Sunday: Witty Fools and Foolish Wits

Happy Sunday, good fool-lowers! Today’s post is just a teensy bit focused on Feste, the fool who graces the stage in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Fools are supposed to be silly so it works, I guess. Of course, Feste is probably one of the smartest people in Shakespeare’s “Whatever” comedy, and – like most of Shakespeare’s fools – he spends much of his time  providing commentary, wordplay, and witty repartee that puts the other characters to shame.

I’ve always had a special liking for Shakespeare’s fools: their words are measured, their digs are precisely timed and aimed, and they are really good at playing fools. That’s what I love most about them, I think… each of Shakespeare’s fools is smarter than the next and they know it. And they make sure the audience knows it. I like to think that Shakespeare’s fools are an insertion of the playwright himself; an embodiment of the man’s own beliefs and wisdom in the form of snide remark here or there that he just couldn’t keep to himself – especially if he was writing the kind of play that audiences and producers demanded of him that ended up with subtitles like “Or What You Will”.

Feste is a particularly brilliant fool, with characteristics that many critics have described as the personification of the holiday for which the play is named. Yes, Twelfth Night is an actual thing. It’s the holiday in the Christian calendar that marks the coming of the Epiphany. Learn all about it, here. Apparently Twelfth Night festivities are high on the revelry scale and a little bit anti-establishment. In any case, Feste pretty much spends the whole play acting beyond the control of any authority. And he has license to do so under Olivia’s service so Shakespeare basically wrote in a free pass for him to be as honest as possible. Nice.

Anyway, here‘s a fun listicle of the wisest lines as spoken by Shakespeare’s fools. You’ll note that Feste has managed to get two quotes up on the board. What are your favorites?

-A

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