The Most Important Character Archetype

Pop quiz: what is one character archetype that appears in almost every Shakespeare play AND Disney movie?

I’ll give you a hint by listing some characters: Bottom, Puck, the Iguana in Tangled, Dori in Finding Nemo, the Clown in All’s Well That Ends Well, the Carpet in Aladdin. Got it yet?

Second hint: it’s not a Disney princess.

The answer is the Clown or the Fool. If you use this archetype in your writing, you could dramatically transform your storytelling. Understanding it will also give you a much deeper understanding of the way story works, as the fool is a ubiquitous presence in both classic and contemporary storytelling.

The Fool The Clown Archetype

Photo by Sergio Piquer Costea

The fool is not necessarily a clown or an idiot. They are a general “low” character. Disney makes this easy by making the fool smaller than everyone else. The fool becomes a talking monkey or cricket or meerkat.

In A Midsummer Nights Dream the fool is literally named Bottom and becomes a literal ass in the second act.

However, in non-animated modern stories, the fool might just be a klutz like Ben Stiller in every movie he’s in.

General Observations and Examples

The fool is the classic sidekick. The Lone Ranger took this archetype quite literally, naming the hero’s sidekick Tonto. However, modern comedies love to employ the fool as the main character. I mentioned Ben Stiller above, but Ashton Kutcher, Adam Sandler, Jim Carey, and, of course, Will Ferrell are a few other examples. Nearly every film they are in, they play the fool.

The fool is usually male. However, there are a few exceptions, for example, Dori in Finding Nemo and Melissa McCarthy’s character, Megan, in Bridesmaids (but you’ll notice Megan dressed as a man most of that movie).

In medieval plays, they often wore masks. In animated films, they are a mask. Think of the Iguana in Tangled.

The fool also plays several important functions in a storyline.

1. Comic Relief

The fool provides comic relief by crossing cultural norms.

Often they do this by being free to express more of their emotions than is culturally acceptable. For example, Will Ferrell’s character Buddy in Elf, can say, “I love you,” to his father in public even though it’s not culturally acceptable because he is completely innocent.

2. Characterization

Fools efficiently characterize every character who comes into contact with them. The truest test of character is how you treat those who are beneath you.

The character is a good guy if they treat the fool like a best friend, as Rapunzel treats her little Iguana in Tangled. They’re a bad guy if they treat him like a tool for their own ends, as Jafar treats Iago in Aladdin.

Often, a bad guy who is pretending to be good will reveal their true character by mistreating the fool.

3. Conscience

The fool acts as the hero’s conscience. I realized this when I remembered Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio. “Remember, Pinocchio,” says the Wish Upon A Star Lady, “be a good boy, and always let your conscience be your guide.”

Since the fool is already unfashionable, they have the freedom to always speak the truth, even when it is awkward or even dangerous to do so.

However, he also understands it’s often his humor that allows him to speak truth. As Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

4.An Invitation to Freedom

Last, the fool often acts as an explicit or implicit challenge to experience the kind of innocence and joy we had as children. We are all fools, and we all wear masks. The fool invites us—ironically, since they wear them—to take off our masks and live free. As J. Phillip Newell says in his Shakespeare and the Human Mystery:

The fool is calling us to be truly ourselves and points out the falseness of what we have become. He is not, however, over and against his hearers. Rather he invites them to discover the fool within themselves. In All’s Well That Ends Well, when Paroles says that he has found he fool, the Clown replies, ‘Did you find me in yourself, sir?’

What are some of your favorite examples of the fool in literature and film? What foolish characteristics do they reveal?

PRACTICE

Your main character is doing something they shouldn’t. Practice using the fool by writing about how they try to get him or her to stop.

Write for fifteen minutes. Post your practice in the comments.

And if you do submit something, be a good critique partner and comment on someone else’s practice.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • Ruth

    how practical. appreciate this.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Ruth!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Ruth!

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    really love this, Joe. this is where you excel, in my opinion – in your profound analysis of literary elements… like the ass. ;) (excellent use of “literally” and “ironically” by the way.)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Jeff. Yes, the ass is literally the most important archetype there is. It’s really ironic. :)

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        hah!

      • Jen Schwab

        Jack lumbered sleepily across the kitchen floor and toward the blinding fluorescence of the living room. He wanted a snack. He was so hungry that his little stomach seemed to quiver with the thought of sweet graham cracker goodness. It wasn’t his fault he had been sent to his nap without lunch.

        It was that pesky Marcus. Marcus, the child who could do no wrong. His every dribble commanded an adoring audience. One would have thought his diaper smelled of sunshine and daisies the way people mimicked his sad, desperate attempts at speaking.

        He wanted a snack. Would Mom give him one? Would she tell him the proverbial “in just a minute,” only to forget his request in light of virtual agriculture? He couldn’t risk that kind of neglect.

        Jack slowly inched the stepstool towards the snack cupboard. He knew exactly where she kept the goods, feebly hidden behind the dried apricots.

        As he climbed up the first step, he heard the quiet shuffle of knees behind him. Marcus stared quietly up at him from the floor.
        “You’re too little to understand how this works, Marcus. Don’t look at me like that.” Marcus sat back on his diaper and raised his left eyebrow.
        “You’re not the boss of me, Marcus.”
        Marcus turned back and headed for the living room.
        “Oh sure, go and tattle on me, why don’t you?”

        Jack ascended the next step and expertly opened the cupboard door.

        “Oh Marcus, you stink! Let’s go change your diaper.”

        “Jack, what are you doing?”

        Busted.

        • Marianne

          This is not even starting to be finished and I’ve written for about forty-five minutes. I’m having trouble not making it sound like a fairy tale with a pat ending. Maybe more description and a longer format might help.

          It was the end of a long night. She had taken back two filet mignons because they weren’t rare enough and one salmon with dill sauce because the customer had said “This smells fishy”.

          The cook was okay with the filets but he blew up over the salmon. He banged pots and pans and talked about how the customers at Le Fromage had more money than sense, and how they spent enough on one meal to pay all his bills for a month. He said lots of other things while he banged pans and threw cooking utensils into the sink, but most of that was not in English and Camille didn’t understand.

          To top it off the customer with the fishy salmon didn’t leave much of a tip, and Camille was working station six which meant that her chore for the end of the evening was cleaning the bathrooms. She went to smoke a cigarette in the alley behind Le Fromage before starting on the bathrooms. Her friend a big fat, golden-eyed, black and white cat waited in the alley. He came running when he saw Camille. She slipped him a bit of cheese and told him about her night.

          “I hate it. I wish I had stayed in school”.

          The cat looked sympathetically at her and then began cleaning his whiskers.

          “I know I should try to save up and go back, but I just don’t make enough”.

          The cat nudged her arm with his head.

          “Maybe I’ll get lucky and win the lottery.”

          The cat jumped down and disappeared behind the crates that cabbages had arrived in earlier that morning, like he knew talking about the winning the lottery was nonsensical.

          In the ladies room, Camille was almost finished cleaning, was refilling the toilet paper dispenser, when she noticed a wallet on the floor just behind the trash can. It was a big purple wallet, probably a designer piece, she thought. When she picked it up, she felt it’s bulk. It was stuffed with cash and cards, like a ripe pomegranate full of seeds.

          She was looking inside to check out the amount of cash when she heard someone at the window. She jumped and looked up to see the cat. It was staring in, it’s eyes showing that luminous green-blue light that come from animals eyes in the dark. He rubbed his face against the window and meowed.

          “It’s a lot. It might pay for two classes”, she said to the cat. He meowed loudly and continued to star at her with his eerie eyes. He didn’t look like her friend now. He looked like an evil omen, a black cat.

          Just tired she thought. He’s only a cat. He must want more cheese. She shut herself in the stall and tried to think about what to do with the wallet. Finally she took the cash out, wiped the wallet off, and put it back behind the toilet.

          She got ready to leave and took a bit of cheese out to the alley before walking to the bus stop. She called her friend, but he didn’t come so she left the cheese on the cabbage crates and headed for the bus stop. She fell asleep on the way home and only the kindness of the bus driver who knew where she got off saved her from going all the way to the end of the line.

          The next night at work she didn’t see the cat. He was gone and she felt that it had to do with the stolen money.

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            45 minutes well spent Marianne. I don’t think it’s cheesy (although the cat did have a penchant for cheese, didn’t he). I do think there are a few small sections that are cheesy, but they’re very fixable.

            For example the last line, “He was gone and she felt that it had to do with the stolen money.” I like the fact that the cat left, but it would have been better if you didn’t talk about about what she felt and told us about an action she did that showed how she missed him and felt guilty. Like this, “He was gone, gone, she felt, forever. She smoked her cigarette. When she was finished, she reached into her purse and tossed the empty wallet into the dumpster in that cold dark alley that didn’t have a name.” Just spitballing, but do you get what I’m saying?.

            I love your creative use of the fool, the conscience who is a cat. I don’t think it seems fairy tail-ish. This line is the best one, “He looked like an evil omen, a black cat.” Thanks Marianne!

          • Marianne

            Thank you Joe!

          • Steph

            I like your cat fool! What a good idea! One thought hit me (and of course it is not my story so this may not make any sense in the greater context of things), but what about the chef tossing out the fishy salmon and the cat coming to chew on it in the alley? Or your MC saving a chunk for the cat? Or maybe this kitty only likes cheese :-) .

          • Anonymous

            I think a “friend” cat was a good idea, too. It sounds as if they had been pals for a while. I wonder if the cat looking like a evil omen is a good description though? unless something happens after their friendship ends that warrants the feeling of ill portents.

            Anyway, the cat’s reaction to Camille’s dishonesty makes me feel ashamed for Camille. That cat would have been a good friend to have.

          • Marianne

            I am sort of ashamed for Camille too. I may just finish it and have her return the money and the wallet. Maybe she will get a reward. Thanks for reading and commenting.

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            NO! I love the fact that she does the wrong thing. Tragedy is always more instructive than comedy.

            Perhaps a way to do both would be to have the cat appear in the distance, but not reveal itself, as if it is watching her but not getting too close, waiting for her to do the right thing?

          • Marianne

            I think I’ve got it now. I’m going to finish it today. I might put it in the contest. But I had another idea too.

            I think writers are the best artist for helping each other. Everyday we remind each other create. Commitment to a group like this makes me go forward and I’m sure it helps many others. Joe you are really a gift and I know you must get tired of hearing that and saying thank-you, but the time you spend on this is, I can’t think of a word, just kind, and giving, and happy and all that good stuff. What a great group everyone and especially Joe.

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            Ha, I’m so glad you’re getting so much out of this group, Marianne. Thank you.

          • http://marieloughin.com/ Marie Loughin

            Huh. Reading this, I suddenly realized that one of my characters plays the part of the fool. he performs nearly all of the functions you’ve listed. I must have absorbed a lot through all those Disney movies I watched with my kids :)

            Nice article!

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            That’s excellent, Marie! Most of the best art, I’m convinced, is done by intuition.

        • Marianne

          Fun reading. Marcus told on him without even talking. I like how his stomach quivers with thoughts of graham crackers.

          • Jen Schwab

            Glad you liked it! Thanks!

          • http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/ August McLaughlin

            Great post, Joe. I hate to say it, but many “fools” in American films drive me NUTS, particularly when they’re thrown in gratuitously. Fools in Shakespeare, thriller novels and foreign films, on the other hand, I dig. (There’s an audience for everything, right?) I also find that writing foolery can help keep the darkness of heavy topics less daunting. My bro says he puts humorous images into his art to “cheer” himself up. :)

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            Yes. Agreed. I can’t watch most films where a “fool” is the hero because I feel so much empathetic shame.

            Yeah, the fool certainly lightens up King Lear, makes the whole awful thing into something of a grotesque comedy. Great point.

            Your brother’s art is such a great example of the grotesque (which Hugo associated with the fool). It would be an interesting exercise to compare the fool in literature and art.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          Ha! Poor Jack.

          Very creative, Jen. I love how Jack has an argument with a mute infant, as if his very presence incriminates him.

          Also, this is hilarious, “One would have thought his diaper smelled of sunshine and daisies…” and disgusting!

          One thing to watch for, the fool and the protagonist at some point have to get along. If they don’t, then the protagonist is actually a villain. As I told Jeremy, whoever the fool likes, the audience likes. And this works vice versa. The fool is the moral center of the story, and at some point in your story, the protagonist has to be on the right side of morality or we won’t like him. Does that make sense?

          • Jen Schwab

            It was fun to create an imaginary dialogue between my two sons. :)
            Good point on the villain part. Hadn’t caught that nuance, but it makes sense. Thanks!

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            That IS fun.

        • Anonymous

          I like to see stories from the point of view of a misunderstood child. You did a good job with Jack.

          • Jen Schwab

            Thanks, kinelta! Jack is my son, so I was having a little fun writing a voice for him.

          • Jen Schwab

            Thanks, kinelta! Jack is my son, so I was having a little fun writing a voice for him.

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    really love this, Joe. this is where you excel, in my opinion – in your profound analysis of literary elements… like the ass. ;) (excellent use of “literally” and “ironically” by the way.)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Jeff. Yes, the ass is literally the most important archetype there is. It’s really ironic. :)

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        hah!

  • Jen Schwab

    Jack lumbered sleepily across the kitchen floor and toward the blinding fluorescence of the living room. He wanted a snack. He was so hungry that his little stomach seemed to quiver with the thought of sweet graham cracker goodness. It wasn’t his fault he had been sent to his nap without lunch.

    It was that pesky Marcus. Marcus, the child who could do no wrong. His every dribble commanded an adoring audience. One would have thought his diaper smelled of sunshine and daisies the way people mimicked his sad, desperate attempts at speaking.

    He wanted a snack. Would Mom give him one? Would she tell him the proverbial “in just a minute,” only to forget his request in light of virtual agriculture? He couldn’t risk that kind of neglect.

    Jack slowly inched the stepstool towards the snack cupboard. He knew exactly where she kept the goods, feebly hidden behind the dried apricots.

    As he climbed up the first step, he heard the quiet shuffle of knees behind him. Marcus stared quietly up at him from the floor.
    “You’re too little to understand how this works, Marcus. Don’t look at me like that.” Marcus sat back on his diaper and raised his left eyebrow.
    “You’re not the boss of me, Marcus.”
    Marcus turned back and headed for the living room.
    “Oh sure, go and tattle on me, why don’t you?”

    Jack ascended the next step and expertly opened the cupboard door.

    “Oh Marcus, you stink! Let’s go change your diaper.”

    “Jack, what are you doing?”

    Busted.

    • Mariaanne

      Fun reading. Marcus told on him without even talking. I like how his stomach quivers with thoughts of graham crackers.

      • Jen Schwab

        Glad you liked it! Thanks!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Ha! Poor Jack.

      Very creative, Jen. I love how Jack has an argument with a mute infant, as if his very presence incriminates him.

      Also, this is hilarious, “One would have thought his diaper smelled of sunshine and daisies…” and disgusting!

      One thing to watch for, the fool and the protagonist at some point have to get along. If they don’t, then the protagonist is actually a villain. As I told Jeremy, whoever the fool likes, the audience likes. And this works vice versa. The fool is the moral center of the story, and at some point in your story, the protagonist has to be on the right side of morality or we won’t like him. Does that make sense?

      • Jen Schwab

        It was fun to create an imaginary dialogue between my two sons. :)
        Good point on the villain part. Hadn’t caught that nuance, but it makes sense. Thanks!

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          That IS fun.

  • Mariaanne

    This is not even starting to be finished and I’ve written for about forty-five minutes. I’m having trouble not making it sound like a fairy tale with a pat ending. Maybe more description and a longer format might help.

    It was the end of a long night. She had taken back two filet mignons because they weren’t rare enough and one salmon with dill sauce because the customer had said “This smells fishy”.

    The cook was okay with the filets but he blew up over the salmon. He banged pots and pans and talked about how the customers at Le Fromage had more money than sense, and how they spent enough on one meal to pay all his bills for a month. He said lots of other things while he banged pans and threw cooking utensils into the sink, but most of that was not in English and Camille didn’t understand.

    To top it off the customer with the fishy salmon didn’t leave much of a tip, and Camille was working station six which meant that her chore for the end of the evening was cleaning the bathrooms. She went to smoke a cigarette in the alley behind Le Fromage before starting on the bathrooms. Her friend a big fat, golden-eyed, black and white cat waited in the alley. He came running when he saw Camille. She slipped him a bit of cheese and told him about her night.

    “I hate it. I wish I had stayed in school”.

    The cat looked sympathetically at her and then began cleaning his whiskers.

    “I know I should try to save up and go back, but I just don’t make enough”.

    The cat nudged her arm with his head.

    “Maybe I’ll get lucky and win the lottery.”

    The cat jumped down and disappeared behind the crates that cabbages had arrived in earlier that morning, like he knew talking about the winning the lottery was nonsensical.

    In the ladies room, Camille was almost finished cleaning, was refilling the toilet paper dispenser, when she noticed a wallet on the floor just behind the trash can. It was a big purple wallet, probably a designer piece, she thought. When she picked it up, she felt it’s bulk. It was stuffed with cash and cards, like a ripe pomegranate full of seeds.

    She was looking inside to check out the amount of cash when she heard someone at the window. She jumped and looked up to see the cat. It was staring in, it’s eyes showing that luminous green-blue light that come from animals eyes in the dark. He rubbed his face against the window and meowed.

    “It’s a lot. It might pay for two classes”, she said to the cat. He meowed loudly and continued to star at her with his eerie eyes. He didn’t look like her friend now. He looked like an evil omen, a black cat.

    Just tired she thought. He’s only a cat. He must want more cheese. She shut herself in the stall and tried to think about what to do with the wallet. Finally she took the cash out, wiped the wallet off, and put it back behind the toilet.

    She got ready to leave and took a bit of cheese out to the alley before walking to the bus stop. She called her friend, but he didn’t come so she left the cheese on the cabbage crates and headed for the bus stop. She fell asleep on the way home and only the kindness of the bus driver who knew where she got off saved her from going all the way to the end of the line.

    The next night at work she didn’t see the cat. He was gone and she felt that it had to do with the stolen money.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      45 minutes well spent Marianne. I don’t think it’s cheesy (although the cat did have a penchant for cheese, didn’t he). I do think there are a few small sections that are cheesy, but they’re very fixable.

      For example the last line, “He was gone and she felt that it had to do with the stolen money.” I like the fact that the cat left, but it would have been better if you didn’t talk about about what she felt and told us about an action she did that showed how she missed him and felt guilty. Like this, “He was gone, gone, she felt, forever. She smoked her cigarette. When she was finished, she reached into her purse and tossed the empty wallet into the dumpster in that cold dark alley that didn’t have a name.” Just spitballing, but do you get what I’m saying?.

      I love your creative use of the fool, the conscience who is a cat. I don’t think it seems fairy tail-ish. This line is the best one, “He looked like an evil omen, a black cat.” Thanks Marianne!

      • Mariaanne

        Thank you Joe!

    • Steph

      I like your cat fool! What a good idea! One thought hit me (and of course it is not my story so this may not make any sense in the greater context of things), but what about the chef tossing out the fishy salmon and the cat coming to chew on it in the alley? Or your MC saving a chunk for the cat? Or maybe this kitty only likes cheese :-) .

    • http://kinswomans-pursuit.blogspot.com/ Casey

      I think a “friend” cat was a good idea, too. It sounds as if they had been pals for a while. I wonder if the cat looking like a evil omen is a good description though? unless something happens after their friendship ends that warrants the feeling of ill portents.

      Anyway, the cat’s reaction to Camille’s dishonesty makes me feel ashamed for Camille. That cat would have been a good friend to have.

      • Mariaanne

        I am sort of ashamed for Camille too. I may just finish it and have her return the money and the wallet. Maybe she will get a reward. Thanks for reading and commenting.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          NO! I love the fact that she does the wrong thing. Tragedy is always more instructive than comedy.

          Perhaps a way to do both would be to have the cat appear in the distance, but not reveal itself, as if it is watching her but not getting too close, waiting for her to do the right thing?

          • Mariaanne

            I think I’ve got it now. I’m going to finish it today. I might put it in the contest. But I had another idea too.

            I think writers are the best artist for helping each other. Everyday we remind each other create. Commitment to a group like this makes me go forward and I’m sure it helps many others. Joe you are really a gift and I know you must get tired of hearing that and saying thank-you, but the time you spend on this is, I can’t think of a word, just kind, and giving, and happy and all that good stuff. What a great group everyone and especially Joe.

          • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

            Ha, I’m so glad you’re getting so much out of this group, Marianne. Thank you.

  • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

    I like how the “fool” can play a 3rd role in a story. He is almost like an innocent bystander who add commentary to what is going and offer the reader a different perspective.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Yeah! One of the roles I didn’t mention is that he is a surrogate for the audience (not that the audience is foolish). We step into his place and can observe, as you say, as a bystander who adds commentary. Generally, whoever the fool likes, we will like.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Yeah! One of the roles I didn’t mention is that he is a surrogate for the audience (not that the audience is foolish). We step into his place and can observe, as you say, as a bystander who adds commentary. Generally, whoever the fool likes, we will like.

    • Anonymous

      Like a chorus in a Greek play, perhaps?

      • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

        I don’t know much about Greek theater. Tell me more.

    • http://kinswomans-pursuit.blogspot.com/ Casey

      Like a chorus in a Greek play, perhaps?

      • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

        I don’t know much about Greek theater. Tell me more.

  • Steph

    My 15 minutes magically turned into 38, so I don’t feel quite right about posting my effort. But I do want to thank you for such a timely and thought-provoking post. I read it this morning and spent the day dwelling on how to apply it to my “sidekick.” I’m quite pleased with the result! Looking forward to reading some of your other responses…

    • kati

      Hi Steph! Kati here, one of the “regulars”. just wanted to let you know, we all bend the “15 minutes” a bit…we see it more as a guideline than a requirement :-) myself, i use it as a motivator to just get started (what can it hurt, just a few minutes!) but if it gets me on a roll, hey, i just roll with it!! welcome, and can’t wait for whatever you send our way! happy new year.

    • Marianne

      I almost always go over. I try but I get carried away. It helps to think for a while about what the story is going to be like first. Then when you start to type or write you have it laid out in your mind.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      That’s great, Steph.

      Yes, we do all go over. I think that’s a good thing. It means you are writing. I appreciate that you respect our time, but we can always only read a portion of your post. I say post away :)

      • Steph

        OK, thanks!:

        Rex pulled the Evinrude’s cord. The line went briefly taught before snaking its way back into the housing. The motor merely snarled, as though Rex had been nothing more than an annoyance, and settled back to sleep. Rex wanted to do the same; the near midnight sun of early summer on the lake took its toll after a couple weeks of long, hard days.

        “What’s the matter, Girlie? Can’t get her started? Now don’t go getting your apron all in a bunch. I’ll take care of it, for you.”

        Rex looked up to see the lanky form of Mags silhouetted in the sunrise, headed down the boardwalk toward the dock.

        Rex was wearing an old plaid overshirt against the early chill of morning. With a laugh, he rolled up the sleeves, ready for a fight. “Who’re you calling a girl, Maggie May?”

        “That’s Magnusson to you, young man.” Mags hopped into the boat and tweaked Rex’s ear. “And if you’re thinking about getting smart about it, remember it’s Mags, Mags like a .357 Magnum.” He dropped Rex’s earlobe and took aim across the lake with an imaginary revolver.

        Rex firmly lowered Mags’ shooting arm, guiding it instead to the pull cord on the motor. It was much too early in the day to lose his best man to the shellshock. “Put down the gun and show me how to start a boat.”
        He watched with relief as a mighty rip of the cord jerked both Mags and the motor back to present. The Evinrude roared and settled quickly into a contented purr.

        “Thanks, man. Now get outta here. I’m headed up to the feldspar mine to see if Hector knows anything about Doc’s missing prospector,” Rex said.

        Mags scrambled out of the boat and onto the dock. He looked down at Rex, a glint in his eye. “You think you can start the Rudy up all on your own on the way home?”

        Rex grabbed his leg. “I said get lost, eh? Before I pitch you into the lake.”

        Mags laughed, wrenched his ankle free, and headed toward shore. Rex started to untie the dock rope when he noticed that Mags had stopped just before stepping onto the land.

        “Trying to come up with one last jab at me before you go, eh?” Rex said.

        But when Mags turned to face him, he was no longer grinning. “I’m heading back up to the lodge. I’ll send RJ down to join you.”

        “Naw. He’s sleeping. Don’t wake him up. I’ll be back before lunch.”

        “A boy should be with his dad right now. We still don’t know who hooked that girl in there.” Mags squinted across the water as though he expected the murderous fiend to appear like a mirage on the waves.

        No chance, Rex thought. The bugger certainly hadn’t stuck around. He threw the throttle into reverse and backed away from the dock. He had no doubt that he was leaving his son in good hands.

        “You’re on launch duty all morning, and Doc’s around somewhere. RJ will be just fine.”

        • Marianne

          That was good like reading the beginning of a murder mystery but I can’t figure out who the fool is. I’m glad you mailed it. It didn’t take long to read at all. I’m also amazed that you can write that much in even 38 minutes. Thanks!

          • Steph

            The scene actually happens toward the middle of my WIP, which is, indeed, a mystery. Mags is the “fool.” Though I tried to drop a few clues about him, I was concerned that it would not be apparent in this snippet as you are missing half a book’s worth of character building. Thanks for wading through it, though! :-)

        • Jen Schwab

          Yeah, didn’t really catch the fool part in this excerpt, but the characters felt really well-developed and mature. Loved the imaginary gun imagery, as it showed a lot about their characters.

  • Steph

    My 15 minutes magically turned into 38, so I don’t feel quite right about posting my effort. But I do want to thank you for such a timely and thought-provoking post. I read it this morning and spent the day dwelling on how to apply it to my “sidekick.” I’m quite pleased with the result! Looking forward to reading some of your other responses…

    • Mariaanne

      I almost always go over. I try but I get carried away. It helps to think for a while about what the story is going to be like first. Then when you start to type or write you have it laid out in your mind.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      That’s great, Steph.

      Yes, we do all go over. I think that’s a good thing. It means you are writing. I appreciate that you respect our time, but we can always only read a portion of your post. I say post away :)

      • Steph

        OK, thanks!:

        Rex pulled the Evinrude’s cord. The line went briefly taught before snaking its way back into the housing. The motor merely snarled, as though Rex had been nothing more than an annoyance, and settled back to sleep. Rex wanted to do the same; the near midnight sun of early summer on the lake took its toll after a couple weeks of long, hard days.

        “What’s the matter, Girlie? Can’t get her started? Now don’t go getting your apron all in a bunch. I’ll take care of it, for you.”

        Rex looked up to see the lanky form of Mags silhouetted in the sunrise, headed down the boardwalk toward the dock.

        Rex was wearing an old plaid overshirt against the early chill of morning. With a laugh, he rolled up the sleeves, ready for a fight. “Who’re you calling a girl, Maggie May?”

        “That’s Magnusson to you, young man.” Mags hopped into the boat and tweaked Rex’s ear. “And if you’re thinking about getting smart about it, remember it’s Mags, Mags like a .357 Magnum.” He dropped Rex’s earlobe and took aim across the lake with an imaginary revolver.

        Rex firmly lowered Mags’ shooting arm, guiding it instead to the pull cord on the motor. It was much too early in the day to lose his best man to the shellshock. “Put down the gun and show me how to start a boat.”
        He watched with relief as a mighty rip of the cord jerked both Mags and the motor back to present. The Evinrude roared and settled quickly into a contented purr.

        “Thanks, man. Now get outta here. I’m headed up to the feldspar mine to see if Hector knows anything about Doc’s missing prospector,” Rex said.

        Mags scrambled out of the boat and onto the dock. He looked down at Rex, a glint in his eye. “You think you can start the Rudy up all on your own on the way home?”

        Rex grabbed his leg. “I said get lost, eh? Before I pitch you into the lake.”

        Mags laughed, wrenched his ankle free, and headed toward shore. Rex started to untie the dock rope when he noticed that Mags had stopped just before stepping onto the land.

        “Trying to come up with one last jab at me before you go, eh?” Rex said.

        But when Mags turned to face him, he was no longer grinning. “I’m heading back up to the lodge. I’ll send RJ down to join you.”

        “Naw. He’s sleeping. Don’t wake him up. I’ll be back before lunch.”

        “A boy should be with his dad right now. We still don’t know who hooked that girl in there.” Mags squinted across the water as though he expected the murderous fiend to appear like a mirage on the waves.

        No chance, Rex thought. The bugger certainly hadn’t stuck around. He threw the throttle into reverse and backed away from the dock. He had no doubt that he was leaving his son in good hands.

        “You’re on launch duty all morning, and Doc’s around somewhere. RJ will be just fine.”

        • Mariaanne

          That was good like reading the beginning of a murder mystery but I can’t figure out who the fool is. I’m glad you mailed it. It didn’t take long to read at all. I’m also amazed that you can write that much in even 38 minutes. Thanks!

        • Jen Schwab

          Yeah, didn’t really catch the fool part in this excerpt, but the characters felt really well-developed and mature. Loved the imaginary gun imagery, as it showed a lot about their characters.

  • Anonymous

    (I admit that I wasn’t timing myself…I’m afraid of waking the baby if I set the kitchen timer. I was doing this on the sly. :))

    Sy was rifling through his co-worker’s desk drawer. At first he had scanned the surface of the desk, hoping to find what he was looking for there, not really wanting to have to go through any of his drawers and filing cabinets. The problem was, was that he didn’t know what it was specifically he was looking for. He had the idea that he would know it if he found it.

    The desk was neat and meticulous. There wasn’t even a photograph, but then again, a cleaner like either Sy or Desmond wouldn’t have a significant other in their life that they wanted to remember. It was a against the rules. Desmond by all appearances was a ruler follower. Sy knew that he himself was a rule breaker, although he pretended that he followed the rules in his daytime life. No. There was nothing on the desk.

    The office door was closed. People on this floor usually didn’t come into the office that Desmond and Sy shared without some kind of warning or an appointment. The only person that could come and go through that door without warning was Desmond, and Sy was pretty sure that Desmond was across town on one of his cleaning assignments. They weren’t usually in the office on the same day, but that wasn’t always a hard and fast rule.

    Sy drummed his fingers on his own desk, watching the door, trying to decide what he was going to do. The parrot in the cage behind him let out a sharp squawk that startled Sy in his dishonest thoughts. He cursed the bird under his breath.

    “Awk. Awk,” the bird continued, oblivious to Sy’s deprecations. With the bird’s noise interrupting his reservations, he went over to Desmond’s desk, and pulled open the top drawer, the rollers silent and smooth. “Desmond’s pens! Desmond’s pens,” the bird shrieked when Sy stuck a hand inside to lift a sheaf of papers and nose around. Sy stared at the bird, and the beady eye glared back at him. “Desmond’s pen, “ the bird repeated, not looking away. Sy fancied that the bird’s black eye saw all, and it might just inform Desmond of what he, Sy, was doing. The parrot still fixated him with a black stare. “Desmond,” it muttered, ruffling its feathers as if agitated. Sy closed the desk drawer and returned to the work on his own. If Sy wanted to find out what his co-worker knew about him, he would have to look elsewhere, at least as long as this little alarm was in residence.

    • Marianne

      I like the parrot as a fool. The black stare kind of reminds me of “The Raven”. It makes me wonder what he was looking for. Thanks!

      • Anonymous

        Thank you, Marianne. I’m kind of curious what he might find, too. But now that there is a parrot to contend with, it should be interesting.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      I can’t help but smiling at the end of each of these practices. Having a fool in your story just lightens the mood. Here you have a professional “cleaner,” which, while I’m not all up on my street terms, I believe is a pretty sinister occupation, betraying or seeing if he’s been betrayed by his coworker, and yet it’s made genuinely funny by a silly bird in a cage. Great job, Kinelta!

      I’ll say the same thing I said to Jen, though. If you want us to like the character, the fool and the character have to get along. They will usually have a falling out or a rift, as they do in Marianne’s story. A good example of this is Aladdin where at some point, Aladdin alienates the carpet and Abu, both “fools.” Maybe you don’t want us to like Sy though.

      This storyline sounds interesting though. Is it part of a longer work?

      • Anonymous

        Sy is a character that cropped up in a practice session a few weeks ago and I haven’t heard of him since, although I was curious about his profession. And here he was this time. At least I know something of his line of work now, so there might be more forthcoming. Thank you.

    • Steph

      I can’t help but wonder how many words this parrot knows and how deep his capacity for communication with humans runs. Lots of potential in that choice of critter!

  • http://kinswomans-pursuit.blogspot.com/ Casey

    (I admit that I wasn’t timing myself…I’m afraid of waking the baby if I set the kitchen timer. I was doing this on the sly. :))

    Sy was rifling through his co-worker’s desk drawer. At first he had scanned the surface of the desk, hoping to find what he was looking for there, not really wanting to have to go through any of his drawers and filing cabinets. The problem was, was that he didn’t know what it was specifically he was looking for. He had the idea that he would know it if he found it.

    The desk was neat and meticulous. There wasn’t even a photograph, but then again, a cleaner like either Sy or Desmond wouldn’t have a significant other in their life that they wanted to remember. It was a against the rules. Desmond by all appearances was a ruler follower. Sy knew that he himself was a rule breaker, although he pretended that he followed the rules in his daytime life. No. There was nothing on the desk.

    The office door was closed. People on this floor usually didn’t come into the office that Desmond and Sy shared without some kind of warning or an appointment. The only person that could come and go through that door without warning was Desmond, and Sy was pretty sure that Desmond was across town on one of his cleaning assignments. They weren’t usually in the office on the same day, but that wasn’t always a hard and fast rule.

    Sy drummed his fingers on his own desk, watching the door, trying to decide what he was going to do. The parrot in the cage behind him let out a sharp squawk that startled Sy in his dishonest thoughts. He cursed the bird under his breath.

    “Awk. Awk,” the bird continued, oblivious to Sy’s deprecations. With the bird’s noise interrupting his reservations, he went over to Desmond’s desk, and pulled open the top drawer, the rollers silent and smooth. “Desmond’s pens! Desmond’s pens,” the bird shrieked when Sy stuck a hand inside to lift a sheaf of papers and nose around. Sy stared at the bird, and the beady eye glared back at him. “Desmond’s pen, “ the bird repeated, not looking away. Sy fancied that the bird’s black eye saw all, and it might just inform Desmond of what he, Sy, was doing. The parrot still fixated him with a black stare. “Desmond,” it muttered, ruffling its feathers as if agitated. Sy closed the desk drawer and returned to the work on his own. If Sy wanted to find out what his co-worker knew about him, he would have to look elsewhere, at least as long as this little alarm was in residence.

    • Mariaanne

      I like the parrot as a fool. The black stare kind of reminds me of “The Raven”. It makes me wonder what he was looking for. Thanks!

      • http://kinswomans-pursuit.blogspot.com/ Casey

        Thank you, Marianne. I’m kind of curious what he might find, too. But now that there is a parrot to contend with, it should be interesting.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      I can’t help but smiling at the end of each of these practices. Having a fool in your story just lightens the mood. Here you have a professional “cleaner,” which, while I’m not all up on my street terms, I believe is a pretty sinister occupation, betraying or seeing if he’s been betrayed by his coworker, and yet it’s made genuinely funny by a silly bird in a cage. Great job, Kinelta!

      I’ll say the same thing I said to Jen, though. If you want us to like the character, the fool and the character have to get along. They will usually have a falling out or a rift, as they do in Marianne’s story. A good example of this is Aladdin where at some point, Aladdin alienates the carpet and Abu, both “fools.” Maybe you don’t want us to like Sy though.

      This storyline sounds interesting though. Is it part of a longer work?

      • http://kinswomans-pursuit.blogspot.com/ Casey

        Sy is a character that cropped up in a practice session a few weeks ago and I haven’t heard of him since, although I was curious about his profession. And here he was this time. At least I know something of his line of work now, so there might be more forthcoming. Thank you.

    • Steph

      I can’t help but wonder how many words this parrot knows and how deep his capacity for communication with humans runs. Lots of potential in that choice of critter!

  • http://FollowingJesusSucks.org Shon Ridenour

    I just came across your blog in December, and I’m loving it so far. This is a fantastic post! And not even for writing reasons, but because of what it reveals about life. By the end of the post I was thinking about all the “reality” TV we have now. The airwaves are filled with fools! Although I’m not sure that most of these new tv fools fit with in the archetype you describe. I think there’s definitely different types of fools. An innocent and/or humble fool is endearing. A prideful fool is sickening. Unfortunately, the latter make up most of what’s on the boob tube these days.

    One of my favorite fools has been Kramer on Seinfeld. He had an unfettered innocence that allowed him to be free – like the episode where he stops wearing underwear. Classic!

    Oh, and I just thought of Joey and Phoebe on Friends. Both were endearing fools, which is pretty amazing, when you consider that Joey was a womanizing sex-addict!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Great examples, Shon. You’re right about reality TV. There are so many of them, and yes, some of them might be foolish but not fools. There is the Jester / Mocker archetype as well, which is the counterpart to the fool, and may be where some of those fit.

      Yep, Kramer, Phoebe, and Joey are all great examples.

      Thanks Shon!

    • Anonymous

      “The fool is the classic sidekick.”

      It’s funny you should post this. I just renamed my blog “SpiritualSidekick.com” last week. I think I have always played the sidekick. In childhood friendships, I was usually the guy who was friends with more “popular” guys, yet I was not considered popular in my own right. In my vocation, as Minister of Music, I have always been the sidekick to the Sr. Pastor. I think my personality and humor feeds that persona. I struggle with people taking me serious at times because I’ve spent so much energy trying to get them to laugh. I think I need to soak and simmer in this realization for awhile and see where it takes me. Thanks!

      • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

        Congratulations on the new name. I love it.

        Wow way to take it to such a deep level. Sidekicks are important. You have to have them. I guess the question you’re asking yourself is, are YOU supposed to be the sidekick or is it a crutch?

        • http://spiritualsidekick.com/ Tom Wideman

          A crutch? Hmm…

  • Guest

    I just came across your blog in December, and I’m loving it so far. This is a fantastic post! And not even for writing reasons, but because of what it reveals about life. By the end of the post I was thinking about all the “reality” TV we have now. The airwaves are filled with fools! Although I’m not sure that most of these new tv fools fit with in the archetype you describe. I think there’s definitely different types of fools. An innocent and/or humble fool is endearing. A prideful fool is sickening. Unfortunately, the latter make up most of what’s on the boob tube these days.

    One of my favorite fools has been Kramer on Seinfeld. He had an unfettered innocence that allowed him to be free – like the episode where he stops wearing underwear. Classic!

    Oh, and I just thought of Joey and Phoebe on Friends. Both were endearing fools, which is pretty amazing, when you consider that Joey was a womanizing sex-addict!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Great examples, Shon. You’re right about reality TV. There are so many of them, and yes, some of them might be foolish but not fools. There is the Jester / Mocker archetype as well, which is the counterpart to the fool, and may be where some of those fit.

      Yep, Kramer, Phoebe, and Joey are all great examples.

      Thanks Shon!

  • Guest

    “The fool is the classic sidekick.”

    It’s funny you should post this. I just renamed my blog “SpiritualSidekick.com” last week. I think I have always played the sidekick. In childhood friendships, I was usually the guy who was friends with more “popular” guys, yet I was not considered popular in my own right. In my vocation, as Minister of Music, I have always been the sidekick to the Sr. Pastor. I think my personality and humor feeds that persona. I struggle with people taking me serious at times because I’ve spent so much energy trying to get them to laugh. I think I need to soak and simmer in this realization for awhile and see where it takes me. Thanks!

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Congratulations on the new name. I love it.

      Wow way to take it to such a deep level. Sidekicks are important. You have to have them. I guess the question you’re asking yourself is, are YOU supposed to be the sidekick or is it a crutch?

      • joco

        A crutch? Hmm…

  • http://lauraplusthevoices.blogspot.com/ Laura W.

    +100 internet points for blogging about Shakespeare. *grin*

    Hamlet even plays what you could call the “fool” for a while, to get to the bottom of the mystery and to make fun of every other person onstage without repercussions.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Great point, Laura.

      I would love to blog more about Shakespeare, but since college, I haven’t had the opportunity to read much of his stuff. You should write a guest post about him :)

  • http://lauraplusthevoices.blogspot.com/ Laura W.

    +100 internet points for blogging about Shakespeare. *grin*

    Hamlet even plays what you could call the “fool” for a while, to get to the bottom of the mystery and to make fun of every other person onstage without repercussions.

  • http://augustmclaughlin.wordpress.com/ August McLaughlin

    Great post, Joe. I hate to say it, but many “fools” in American films drive me NUTS, particularly when they’re thrown in gratuitously. Fools in Shakespeare, thriller novels and foreign films, on the other hand, I dig. (There’s an audience for everything, right?) I also find that writing foolery can help keep the darkness of heavy topics less daunting. My bro says he puts humorous images into his art to “cheer” himself up. :)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Yes. Agreed. I can’t watch most films where a “fool” is the hero because I feel so much empathetic shame.

      Yeah, the fool certainly lightens up King Lear, makes the whole awful thing into something of a grotesque comedy. Great point.

      Your brother’s art is such a great example of the grotesque (which Hugo associated with the fool). It would be an interesting exercise to compare the fool in literature and art.

  • http://mjmonaghan.wordpress.com/ Michael Monaghan

    Joe, this is such good stuff. When I get further down the road, I might be able to participate. You all are over this novice’s head at this time. :)

    • kati

      Hi Michael, I am one of the “frequent flyers” here, and I like to get to know the new faces. I just checked out your blog…and I must say, you are NO novice! I just read your latest post, and your “festivus” post. Both have a wonderful voice, so warm and confident and familiar. I say, post away here at The Write Practice! You’ll be able to teach us all a thing or two :-) Happy New Year!

      • http://mjmonaghan.wordpress.com/ Michael Monaghan

        Thank you for your kind words, Kati. I do feel over my head when I read so many blogs, and in particular, one’s like Joe’s that go into the structure of writing. I have no training, other than basic composition and I just write what seems to make sense in my head. I love to learn, though, and I want to get better, so that I write correctly. Thanks for listening and reading.

        • kati

          i get overwhelmed with classic literature (perhaps we both missed something in high school! — i read only one during my 4 years, The Old Man and the Sea) so i feel like i have a lot to learn when i compare myself to literary thinkers here and elsewhere in my life. but i have read hundreds of business and leadership books. i noticed in your “guidance counselor” post that you have succeeded in business and the air force. perhaps these are the influences that have helped you create such a clear, non-rambling yet entertaining storytelling voice. i’ll have to meet up with you in your space from time to time and be an encouragement to you there! as well as anytime you take the plunge here. joe (and everyone else) is positive first, honest second. a nice combination for growth, i’d say :-)

      • Stephen M Swartz

        What’s really sad is when your protagonist discovers he is the clown.

        • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

          Very true. The fool often experiences a lot of shame. That’s why I can’t watch most movies where the protagonist is the fool. It’s too painful.

    • http://TeenLifeHope.org/ Kati Lane

      Hi Michael, I am one of the “frequent flyers” here, and I like to get to know the new faces. I just checked out your blog…and I must say, you are NO novice! I just read your latest post, and your “festivus” post. Both have a wonderful voice, so warm and confident and familiar. I say, post away here at The Write Practice! You’ll be able to teach us all a thing or two :-) Happy New Year!

      • http://mjmonaghan.wordpress.com/ Michael Monaghan

        Thank you for your kind words, Kati. I do feel over my head when I read so many blogs, and in particular, one’s like Joe’s that go into the structure of writing. I have no training, other than basic composition and I just write what seems to make sense in my head. I love to learn, though, and I want to get better, so that I write correctly. Thanks for listening and reading.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Michael. But I agree with Kati. You’re no novice. Besides it’s just practice.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by :)

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Thanks Michael. But I agree with Kati. You’re no novice. Besides it’s just practice.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by :)

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  • http://twitter.com/GregoryWrites Tristan Gregory

    Touchstone and Feste are my favorite Shakespearean fools – both play the perceptive fool, but Touchstone is much more ‘in’ the story than Feste, who resides more on the outside observing the action. However, both can ‘speak truth to power’ as it were, and love word play.

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    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Glad you mentioned these Tristan. While I’ve read As You Like It, I’ve never seen it, so I didn’t feel comfortable mentioning him. And I actually haven’t read Twelfth Night or seen it at all. Yes, I love the fool for their ability to be the conscience of the powerful.

  • http://twitter.com/GregoryWrites Tristan Gregory

    Touchstone and Feste are my favorite Shakespearean fools – both play the perceptive fool, but Touchstone is much more ‘in’ the story than Feste, who resides more on the outside observing the action. However, both can ‘speak truth to power’ as it were, and love word play.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Glad you mentioned these Tristan. While I’ve read As You Like It, I’ve never seen it, so I didn’t feel comfortable mentioning him. And I actually haven’t read Twelfth Night or seen it at all. Yes, I love the fool for their ability to be the conscience of the powerful.

  • http://marieloughin.com/ Marie Loughin

    Huh. Reading this, I suddenly realized that one of my characters plays the part of the fool. he performs nearly all of the functions you’ve listed. I must have absorbed a lot through all those Disney movies I watched with my kids :)

    Nice article!

  • Stephen M Swartz

    What’s really sad is when your protagonist discovers he is the clown.

  • http://www.unpublishedguy.com/ Unpublished Guy

    Baldrick in Black Adder.
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet.

  • http://www.unpublishedguy.com/ Unpublished Guy

    Baldrick in Black Adder.
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet.

  • http://www.unpublishedguy.com/ Unpublished Guy

    Used to be the wife.was the clown in sktcoms. (Edith Bunker, Ted Knight’s wife.) These days the husband gets the Honor’s.

  • http://www.unpublishedguy.com/ Unpublished Guy

    Working on my autobiography and realized this is a case of the protagonist being the clown.

  • http://www.unpublishedguy.com/ Unpublished Guy

    Working on my autobiography and realized this is a case of the protagonist being the clown.

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  • http://medicinemountain.blogspot.com/ Marti Fenton White Deer Song

    I’m thinking about the first card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot which is numbered zero and named the “Fool.” He is youthful innocence stepping into the unknown without judgement or wisdom. He is all new beginnings because he takes his bag of tricks over the edge (he is pictured stepping off a precipice) and sacrifices his past. He represents the only attitude that makes real learning possible.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Interesting, Marti. I know nothing about Tarot, but I love that image of stepping off the precipice of the present, as if only the fool can be fully immersed into the tragic beauty of the moment.

      • Denise Golinowski

        Thanks, Joe, for a reminder about this oft overlooked character. The Fool is too often taken at face value and dismissed. However, we need that small voice to keep us in touch with the reality of the situation in a way that won’t feel preachy. Thanks again.

  • http://medicinemountain.blogspot.com/ Marti Fenton White Deer Song

    I’m thinking about the first card in the Major Arcana of the Tarot which is numbered zero and named the “Fool.” He is youthful innocence stepping into the unknown without judgement or wisdom. He is all new beginnings because he takes his bag of tricks over the edge (he is pictured stepping off a precipice) and sacrifices his past. He represents the only attitude that makes real learning possible.

    • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

      Interesting, Marti. I know nothing about Tarot, but I love that image of stepping off the precipice of the present, as if only the fool can be fully immersed into the tragic beauty of the moment.

  • Denise Golinowski

    Thanks, Joe, for a reminder about this oft overlooked character. The Fool is too often taken at face value and dismissed. However, we need that small voice to keep us in touch with the reality of the situation in a way that won’t feel preachy. Thanks again.

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  • lilith

    papagieno in Die Zauberflote.

  • http://writingeekery.com/ MJ Bush

    In The Avengers, Tony Stark has a bit of the Fool in him. It’s interesting, because he’s respected for his abilities and knowledge, but there are times that the other characters almost forget it because of his antics.

    • http://www.independentbookworm.com/ Will Hahn

      Stark is close to a fool among others, it’s true. Not so much unintelligent of course, but a horizontal, unstructured thinker who doesn’t chain his impulses (in ANY way!) and thus comes up with brilliance along with whopper mistakes. His humor (which RDJ plays to perfection) is an excellent cover, again not the classic fool but causing folks to MISTAKE him for one- and in their underestimation of him,they reveal their true character just as Joe pointed out.
      What a most-excellent post, a great deal to think about here. In the Lands of Hope,there are a few fools… but they are too powerful for me to write about effectively yet.

    • Up All Night To Write

      He’s the smart one, but he has all his little quirks.

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  • Cindy

    In this lesson, I am reminded of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice”s Charles Bingley. He was led so easily by others, but in the end, his love for Jane, and Mr. Darcy’s encouragement to pursue it, influences Mr. Darcy to admit his feelings for Elizabeth and to put aside his own pride.

  • Up All Night To Write

    There is no iguana in Tangled. He’s a chameleon.

    • Up All Night To Write

      And Ron is the fool. I think.