So far in reading King Lear, I am struggling to understand the role of the Fool in terms of the play's narrative. It seems odd to me that a character could so blatantly taunt King Lear. I understand that part of what the Fool says and does it meant to be comic relief and that other things he says are meant to provide an alternate perspective on Lear's behavior, but knowing King Lear's temper and lack of stability, it doesn't make sense to me that the Fool would be able to so openly insult him.
Particularly, there is an exchange at the end of Act I that does not seem to be consistent with the relationship King Lear has with most people. The Fool says, "If thou wert my Fool, nuncle, I'd have thee beaten for bieng old before my time." To which Lear says, "How's that," and the Fool replies, "Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise."
In effect, the Fool just blasted Lear's perception of himself as an old, aged, knowledgeable King who is admired by his people, and instead asserts that Lear is unwise. It seems to me that Lear would get angry at this in the same way that he got angry when the Earl of Kent undermined his authority, but I guess that is part of the Fool's role that makes him unique to all other characters. He is able to speak his mind to the King possibly because the King does not take him as seriously, or because the Fool is not one of the people that directly supports his power. Either way, the Fool is oddly able to be more critical of the King than other characters and adds a different perspective to the play because of that reason.