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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 310

has been well likened to Horatio. But Horatio is not old; nor is he hot-headed; and though he is stoical he is also religious. Kent, as compared with him and with Edgar, is not so. He has not Edgar's ever-present faith in the 'clearest gods.' He refers to them, in fact, less often than to fortune or the stars. He lives mainly by the love in his own heart.1


     The theatrical fool or clown (we need not distinguish them here) was a sore trial to the cultured poet and spectator in Shakespeare's day. He came down from the Morality plays, and was beloved of the groundlings. His antics, his songs, his dances, his jests, too often unclean, delighted them, and did something to make the drama, what the vulgar, poor or rich, like it to be, a variety entertainment. Even if he confined himself to what was set down for him, he often disturbed the dramatic unity of the piece; and the temptation to 'gag' was too strong for him to resist. Shakespeare makes Hamlet object to it in emphatic terms. The more learned critics and poets went further and would have abolished the fool altogether. His part declines as the drama advances, diminishing markedly at the end of the sixteenth century. Jonson and Massinger exclude him. Shakespeare used him -- we know to what effect -- as he used all the other popular elements of the drama; but he abstained from introducing him into the Roman plays,2 and

   1This difference, however, must not be pressed too far; nor must we take Kent's retort,

Now by Apollo, king,
Thou swear'st thy gods in vain,

for a sign of disbelief He twice speaks of the gods in another manner (I. i. 185, III. vi. 5), and he was accustomed to think of Lear in his 'prayers' (I. i. 144).
   2The 'clown' in Antony and Cleopatra is merely an old peasant. There is a fool in Timon of Athens, however, and he appears in a scene (II. ii.) generally attributed to Shakespeare. His talk sometimes reminds one of Lear's fool; and Kent's remark, 'This is not altogether fool, my lord,' is repeated in Timon, II. ii. 122, 'Thou art not altogether a fool.'

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