Shakespeare, Music, Fool, King Lear, Twelfth Night, Hip-hop
This paper explores Shakespeare’s fools and their use of music. Throughout Shakespeare’s plays, he developed two different styles of fools: the “natural fool” based on the acting style of Will Kemp, and the “artificial fool” based on the acting style and personality of Robert Armin. Armin also helped influence Shakespeare’s increased use of music through his career. Artificial fools use music for two main purposes; either as a shield from the negative repercussions of their words, or as a weapon to more effectively persuade their audience to something. As a shield, the fools make use of the cultural connection between music and madness to “play the fool” when their truths cut the listeners too deep (as exemplified by the fool in King Lear). As a weapon, fools prove that music can be more persuasive than words alone. Within this argument, this paper explores Shaina Taub’s 2016 musical arrangement of Twelfth Night. It also parallels this type of musical persuasion with the modern political hip-hop movement, briefly comparing Donald Glover to Robert Armin as a modern “artificial fool.”
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Conder, Noelle M., "“And Those That Are Fools, Let Them Use Their Talents”: Looking at the Power of Music in the Hands of Shakespeare’s Wise Fools" (2019). Student Publications. 277.
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