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Updated: Apr 24, 2022

The Jester Archetype

There are twelve main literary archetypes derived from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung's findings. The Jester is one of the twelve:

The Jester is usually employed in literary works for comic relief as well as to articulate harsh truths without fear or favour. Often being the wise fool as can be seen in Shakespeare's plays they get away with the bitterest of truths. In Twelfth Night OR What You Will Feste is a key voice, providing not just comic relief while speaking harsh truths but also is the one who takes the story forward. Feste, the clown's name is mentioned only once in the whole play and in The Twelfth Night he is labelled Clown in stage directions. Feste could lose his position for not being in service at his lady Olivia's. He roams freely and is warned by Maria, Countess Olivia's gentlelady for being absent, when he quips [aside]:

Wit, an't be thy will, put me into good fooling! Those wits, that think they have thee, do very oft prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man: for what says Quinapalus? 'Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.' Enter OLIVIA with MALVOLIO God bless thee, lady! OLIVIA Take the fool away. Clown Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.


The popular line, 'better a witty fool, than a foolish wit' is delivered by Feste in the play and he is one of the critical characters of the play.



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