This essay investigates Lydgate's Order of Fools, specifically his allusion to Marcolf and use of proverbs, which resembles Marcolf's own deployment of concrete, rustic images in contrast to Solomon's abstract sententiousness. By denigrating Marcolf at the poem's outset, Lydgate disassociates his proverbs from Marcolf's churlish character to validate their underlying wisdom. Although the poem has typically been read as satirizing foolish peasant behaviors, I argue that Lydgate instead foregrounds commonplace proverbs as essential advice for the work's aristocratic audience. As a result, the poem offers a contrast to Lydgate's frequently sententious style and emphasizes the necessity of modifying a ruler's perspective with proverbs derived from everyday activities.

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