I find it ironic that characters who are called fools and jesters, or are otherwise dismissed due to their lower class standing, are often the wittiest and most insightful. In King Lear, the fool is not even given a proper name, yet he can get away with saying a lot more than Kent or Cordelia can.
The fool’s lower social status and roundabout way of speaking work to his advantage. Since he is not a nobleman, he is seen as less of a threat and is therefore not taken as seriously. This is in contrast to Kent, who is punished by King Lear when he tries to offer counsel. Kent advises the king, “Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow/ Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;/ Or, whilst I can vent clamor from my throat,/ I’ll tell thee thou dost evil,” (1.1.164-167). The king, taking personal offense and sensing a challenge, decides to banish Kent.
In 1.1, when Cordelia refuses to proclaim complete love for her father, he punishes her as well. He demands, “…what can you say to draw/ A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak,” to which Cordelia replies, “Nothing, my lord,” (1.1.84-86). Shocked at this defiance, the king essentially disowns her: “Here I disclaim all my paternal care/ Propinquity. and property of blood…” (1.1.113-114). Meanwhile, the fool says something similar to the king later on, but he doesn’t seem to notice or take offense since the fool speaks in riddles. In 1.4.168-169, the fool proclaims, “…thou art an O without a figure. I am better than thou art now; I am a fool; thou art nothing,” to which the king does not respond.
Playing a fool in Shakespeare’s time, it seems you can be much more free with individuality and opinions without the fear of being punished.