Seat yourself on the log; and my life on it, he can soon make a natural fool
of you, and that well to your liking."
(2) In fact, the woodcut depicts Armin as the natural fool he returned to again and again, in print and in performance, John in the Hospital.
(5) Even though the play also contains the artificial fool Tutch, Armin emphasizes the natural fool John, whom he affectionately calls "my old acquaintance, lack, whose life I knew." And it was the natural fool John who was so popular with both Court and City that they wished to see Armin "shew him in priuate," in solo performances in their houses, as well as in public performances of the play.
Hornback maps the Q- and F-fools onto the distinction between the artificial and natural fool respectively, identifying the specifics of the Q-fools bitter and comic rationality in contrast to F's less amusing but pathos-infused character.
The first neglected clowning context (Yorick) to be unearthed is the tradition of black-faced natural fools. Here Hornback reminds us of the long association in Augustinian theology between blackness and foolery (stultitia).
(19) When Armin, who was not deformed (he was an artificial fool), played the well-known natural fool
Blue John in his own play Two Maids of More-clacke (pub.
My humour's my humour." (3) His experiment ends badly, but his pun on "naturals" lingers in the mind for the way it aligns narrow obedience to gender codes and "native"/national feeling with a natural fool
``It's difficult to teach people to become clowns but you seem a natural fool
Sometimes the more informal term natural, or natural fool
, is found.
Counter to common arguments, Hornback argues that the Fool of the Folio is a natural fool
and that the Fool of the Quarto is a bitter artificial fool.
After all, as Enid Welsford put it, the natural fool
's "mental deficiencies" often "deprived him both of rights and responsibilities." (25) Thus, the short-term license established through blacking up in comic, irrational contexts was, paradoxically, actually limiting over the long haul, perpetuating a stereotype of irresponsibility and irrationality that underwrote systematic slavery and the stubborn denial of meaningful freedom for African Americans until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Shakespeare's deployment of the troubling natural fool