The Tempest

I hope to argue that Stott’s definition of the constituent parts of a Shakespearean Fool is not fulfilled by an individual character in the play, The Tempest, but is corroborated by the combined traits of Trinculo, Stephano and, even, Caliban.

Slapstick replaces dramatic tension in Act Two, Scene Two when Trinculo, Stephano and Caliban meet. I believe that Trinculo complies with elements of Stott’s statement in Act 2 Scene 2. Shakespeare depicted him as a ‘jester’ whom we later learn wears “pied and patch,” the multi-coloured garment of a professional Fool. He is portrayed as a coarse, comical character whose name resembles, ‘trincone,’ the Italian for ‘drunkard.’ Given his penchant for alcohol, this is clearly not a coincidence. I consider that Trinculo’s ‘paradoxical character’ partly satisfies Stott’s summary because Shakespeare created him to be amusing but in an unpleasant and sarcastic manner. He is also a ‘symbol of contradictions’ because, despite his appearance, Shakespeare has not presented to the audience a merry minstrel but an avaricious and unkind individual who constantly compares Caliban to a fish, describes him as a deformed “moon-calf,” and talks of people paying large sums of money to, “see a dead Indian.” The vocabulary is unpleasant as Trinculo repeatedly describes Caliban as a “monster” with a tirade of disparaging adjectives such as “perfidious,” “most scurvy” and “abominable.” I think Shakespeare wanted to create Trinculo as an incongruous, malicious character. Perhaps he wished to surprise an audience, given the character’s role of court jester.

In my view, Shakespeare’s character of Stephano also partially conforms to Stott’s definition of a Fool, given that, mostly he behaves as a ‘clown (and a) buffoon.’ Clearly he is inebriated and his foolish behaviour is manifest in a farcical situation whereby he questions the, “monster of the isle’ with, “four legs and two voices.” One of the linguistic devices used by Shakespeare to create...