Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Fool

Four types of fools are important in fantasy.

1. The court Jester who traditionally, as in the plays of William Shakespeare, utters wisdom.

2. The usage associated with the Perceval motif: a naive innocent fails to ask the questions which would resolve a situation – in Perceval's instance the wounds of the Fisher King – and who subsequently Learns Better and redeems himself and the Land. By extension, fools in this category may fail to answer Riddles, or may ask or answer questions in a wrong spirit or context.

3. The figure whose preparedness to diverge from the Quest to assist (e.g.) wounded animals is often seen by the rest as a fool; Androcles is an Underlier. This is a frequent Christian-Fantasy motif in which worldly folly becomes seen as heavenly wisdom.

4. The fool of the Tarot pack. [RK]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.