What Defines a Fool?

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I just finished The Fool’s Tale by Nicole Galland and it was pretty good, besides trying to get into and understanding the politics of it, but it made me wonder what makes someone defined as a “fool”. In the book the character Gwirion is the “fool” of the story. When I try to pinpoint why exactly he was the “fool” my mind ends up jumping back and forth between one thing and the next that might have made him defined as that. The problem is that I caught myself asking many times, “Ok, I’m sure this is why he was a fool to the society, but does that really make him a fool?” or “Well, I see why he is a fool in a general sense, but with the reasoning behind why he was acting that way is he really a fool?”.

One of the examples that showed me that he was a general fool for the kingdom was that Gwirion was the kingdom’s entertainer. He made crude awful jokes and set up pranks constantly that no one else would have been allowed or dared to do for they would have been sentenced to death. So yes, that made him a fool although in that time era in the book in those parts of the world the “fool” or jester wasn’t a part of society or the kingdom, and when the king was told that there were people who did what Gwirion did as a job title, he thought that very interesting and entertaining. Now, the whole reasoning behind why Gwirion did the things he did is what makes him opposite of a “fool” in my mind. The reason he made horrible pranks and acted ridiculous a majority of the time was because the king who he had grown up with needed him to. The king depended on Gwirion’s sense of humor to help him relax and get through the horrible politics of being a king. So, Gwirion was willing to make a fool of himself for his best friend/his king and live a life in complete servitude with no freedom for his kingdom.

With that being said, after many years of no real freedom and only servitude Gwirion ended up craving freedom and the want to live for himself. In that desire he ended up acting on a very foolish yearning when he fell in love with the queen. Although, the queen’s marriage to the king was only treated as a political gain and the king often mistreated their marriage by straying, falling in love with a married queen is a very foolish thing to do, but as we know as humans a lot of times falling in love can’t be helped. So, looking at it without knowing the full story I don’t think that him falling in love is what made him a fool, but the fact that he acted on it did. Now, the full story is that the queen fell in love with him too and kept advancing on him and as hard as he tried to stay away his desires in the end conquered his conscious.

In my personal opinion a fool would be someone who does something idiotic without thinking which in turn would make life harder than it already was on himself. The problem with that is that we all see idiotic in different ways and we all don’t know the full story behind why someone might have made the choices that they did. Some people think that falling in love with certain people is a foolish and idiotic act. Some people understand that falling in love can’t be helped most of the time. Some people think that doing drugs is idiotic, but others believe that that might have been their only escape from what they were going through. You just don’t fully know unless you are that person if what you are doing is entirely foolish. Even if you are that person making the decisions, you still might not know if what you are doing is entirely foolish because we are all very complex creatures who second-guess ourselves constantly. The only thing that I can think of that makes sense to me in trying to put all of this together is that we are all fools or no one is a fool at all. The author herself made the “fool” of the story’s name, Gwirion, to mean both mean innocent and foolish, meaning that the writer herself knew that he was innocent the entire time while he was doing the foolish things that he did, and although everyone saw him as the “fool” he really wasn’t. So how many people do we see as fools who really aren’t, or are we all just fools because as humans we make mistakes all the time that others view as stupid?

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