The Fool and the Derelict
Dancing through life, the fool lives without a care in the world. He exists between the world of adults and the world of children. All of life is simple, light and amazing to him. He wanders from place to place looking for a new playmate – whether it be a person, a dog or a game doesn’t matter to him. His heart is full of love and laughter. He is the most playful of all the gods and often acts as a messenger between humans and the gods as he loves adventures and travel.
The Fool is a man who is still a boy inside. He won’t grow up and doesn’t feel inferior to others; he thinks they’re somewhat blind to their own boring and shallow existences. People often flock around him after work because they know he’ll lead them to the party where they can unwind.
He enjoys playing around and not acting his age. He thinks stressed-out businessmen are just plain crazy. He believes life should be fun and he’s determined to enjoy himself. And he doesn’t need a big fancy house with an expensive car in the driveway to do it.
He avoids commitments and romantic entanglements. The women in his life must respect this if they want to be around him.
He loves to be the go-between, circulating through many social cliques. He doesn’t care if what he’s doing is legal or not. The consequences of his actions aren’t important to him because he lives in the moment as a free spirit. He won’t go as far as to hurt someone, but that’s his only moral code. He’ll try anything once, and the more people present to witness his actions the better. He’d make a great salesman or actor because he loves to be the center of attention and doesn’t want to be tied down to a nine-to-five job. He’s a wanderer at heart and makes new friends wherever he goes.
What Does the Fool Care About?
- The Fool cares about his freedom. He loves to come and go as he pleases and often disappears for days or weeks at a time. He’s always looking for the next adventure. The newness of the experience gets to him.
- He enjoys a challenge in all areas of his life and has no trouble being alone.
- He cares about remaining youthful and carefree no matter what his age.
- He cares about children and will risk life to save them because he identifies with their innocence.
What Does the Fool Fear?
- The Fool fears losing his freedom. Being stuck in bed or in a prison would be devastating for him, and he’d do anything to avoid it; he’d risk death to escape it.
- He also fears boredom; he’ll come up with a way to amuse himself with a rubber band if that’s all he has. He’s the first one to talk his friends into cutting school to go hang out.
- He loves to be risky. Hang gliding off the Twin Towers is his idea of fun. His young attitude makes him feel invincible, and he’s addicted to the rush of adrenaline.
- He never makes commitments, at least not ones he can’t walk away from easily.
- He loves to help children and fears not being able to save them when they’re in trouble. He’s still a child himself no matter what his age is. He understands children and their capacity to play, create and inspire.
What Motivates the Fool?
- His biggest motivator is the need to know and understand. He keeps his mind working as well as his body. His inquisitiveness drives his adventures forward and offers variety and spice to his life.
How Do Other Characters See the Fool?
- Others see him as either unpredictable and fascinating or childish and flighty. He has energy that never seems to stop and exudes an enthusiasm that can drive others crazy as he comes up with yet another new idea. No one can remember what his latest project is because he changes it so often.
- He’s often dressed in casual clothes or the latest teen fad regardless of his age.
- His imagination always seems to be working, and he often has a distant look on his face when others fall into deep serious conversations near him.
Developing the Character Arc
Look at your character’s main goal in the story and then at the fears you’ve selected to use against him. What does he need to learn to help him overcome his fear? Does he need to find a job to support a relative? Does he need to deal with a terminal illness? Has he been drafted? Was he accused of a crime he didn’t commit?
Very often the Fool needs to learn to set limits on his behavior. He doesn’t realize how much pain he can cause people in his wake. He needs to consider their feelings if he is to have any relationships at all, especially with his family. He also needs to learn how to take care of himself and accept some responsibility for his behavior. He must learn to respect the authority of the King or he’ll suffer the consequences.
What happened to him at an early age to make this archetype dominate his personality? Did his parents fight all the time and he tried to lighten things up by being the comedian? Was he glorified for being the class clown or the derelict? Did his father yell all the time and he had to learn how to talk his way out of trouble? Were his parents adventurous?
To grow, this archetype is best paired with one of the following:
- The Businessman – can teach the Fool responsibility and about how to take care of himself as adults do.
- The Abuser – a father could take all the fun out of the Fool’s life by pushing him to grow up and take care of himself so he can leave home.
- The Matriarch – would teach him about family and commitment. He’d learn that to be totally without roots is to be totally alone.
- The Destroyer – would change his life and make him wake up to the fact that he can be an adult and still have fun.
- Loves to play practical jokes.
- Is easygoing.
- Is adventurous and inquisitive.
- Can go on adventures alone.
- Is charming and playful.
- Has a strong imagination and is always full of ideas.
- Acts and dresses young for his age.
- Hates to plan things ahead of time and is very spontaneous.
- Can be a wonderful friend, focused on only you when he’s around.
- Loves children because he’s youthful himself.
- Is impulsive and reckless, without limits.
- Is terrified of commitment.
- Can pick up and disappear for long stretches of time.
- Takes extreme risks because he feels invincible.
- Can’t handle responsibility or a traditional job.
The Villainous Side of the Fool: The Derelict
As a Villain the Fool becomes the Derelict. He often will be found among the con men on city streets hustling for cash. He has great charm and charisma that draws people to his games. His smile makes him appear to be trustworthy as he engages them in conversation.
He does everything in excess and causes his parents and family a lot of misery and shame. He doesn’t consider the consequences of his actions and may be arrested for his actions. Every parent dreads the late-night phone call, but for his parents it’s a common occurrence. If his parents are well-off socially this can be a huge problem, and they may disown him. This only gives him more reason to feel slighted and abandoned and begin acting out even more for attention.
He has a pattern of irresponsible behavior that lacks morals and ethics. He’s self-centered when it comes to his problems. “No one else matters but me” is his mantra. He believes others he views as unique and special. He can be arrogant and can lack empathy toward others.
He doesn’t understand why he should have to listen to authority figures. He feels they have no right to boss him around. He thinks of his father as purely a sperm donor with a checkbook. He wants to be his own man. He thinks, “Just because their lives are boring doesn’t mean mine has to be. I want to have fun and make my own rules.”
- Is like an expert con man, hustling for a quick buck.
- Hates authority figures and views his father as a checkbook.
- Doesn’t care about other people’s feelings.
- Is an embarrassment to his family.
- Is self-centered.
- Is irresponsible and lacks ethics.
- Feels above the law.
- Lacks empathy.
- Is arrogant and confrontational.
- Easily succumbs to addictions.
- Expects others to bail him out of a crisis.
- Runs when the going gets tough.
Hermes in Action
Fool/Derelict TV Heroes
Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) in Friends
Gilligan (Bob Denver) in Gilligan’s Island
Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) in Seinfeld
Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Lou Costello in Abbot and Costello
Warren “Potsie” Weber (Anson Williams) and Ralph Malph (Don Most) in Happy Days
Fool/Derelict Film Heroes
Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) in Risky Business
Jay (Will Smith) in Men in Black
Austin Danger Powers (Mike Myers) in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) in Shanghai Noon
Buck Russell (John Candy) in Uncle Buck
Fool/Derelict Literary Heroes
Uncle Remus in The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris
Don Quixote in Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes
Peter Pan in Peter Pan by James Barrie
Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
the Fool in King Lear by William Shakespeare