Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.
-Feste, Twelfth Night, I.5.328
In 2019, I wrote:
In Elizabethan times, the twelfth night was a holiday known as the Feast of Fools. Feste represents the festive spirit of the play, and he makes an important contribution to the action.
Feste says, “Foolery sir, does walk about the orb like the sun, it shines everywhere.” He is pointing to the fact that he is surrounded by fools. The difference is that they are unaware. In the play, Feste seems to be the wisest of them all. His main job is to speak the truth.
The fool, the trickster, and the mischief-maker.
While our society celebrates the archetype of “the hero,” “the teacher,” “the princess,” “the king,” “the artist,” “the mother,” “the maiden,” “the crone,” and even “the victim” and “the villain,” rarely do I see “the fool” being awarded its rightful place among them.
This is the one who cracks jokes to break the tension and the seriousness of the situation, who plays pranks to dust out the dull. We laugh at the Fool and his antics because they cut through the facade of “the real.”
At home, I sometimes play the fool. I dust off the court jester bells. I prank and joke and badly perform karaoke when the atmosphere has been heavy too long – like a snow globe that hasn’t been shaken since last winter. A long face starts to twitch into a smirk. The lopsided grin turns into a full smile which ends in a belly laugh all at my expense sometimes. The glitter that settled is stirred up and the air sparkles again. (I still play the fool ALL THE TIME. One of my signature strengths is humour!)
There is a time and place for playing out this archetype but we need more of it. More fools to whisper asides with eye rolls. More fools with twinkles in their eyes that make mischief. More fools to reflect our silly seriousness.
Pick one or some…
- Copy quote above or any other “fool” quote by Shakespeare.
- Read Sif’s Golden Hair, How Coyote Brought Fire to the People, or Why Anansi has Eight Thin Legs
- Draw from the story or draw the Fool Tarot card
- Journal your experience with “The Fool.” How hard is it to play it? Or is it your major role and easy to play? What if we all played it more?