“He uses his folly like a stalking-horse and under the presentation of that he shoots his wit.”
This is one of the most important remarks in the whole play of “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare as it correctly describes the character of the fool in Shakespearean drama. Touchstone is a fool; that is, he is a court-jester who has the privilege to make all sorts of jokes at the cost of others. He is called a fool, but actually he is not a fool. Actually he is a shrewd and witty man. His “folly” is only a camouflage for his wit. In calling himself a fool and in letting others call him a fool, he is only throwing a veil upon his wit and wisdom. He is like a hunter who hides himself behind a real horse or a dummy horse to pursue his intended prey. And just as a hunter shoots his arrows at his prey, so Touchstone makes sarcastic remarks about other people. In short, Duke Senior means to say that under cover of his folly Touchstone talks much sense. Touchstone calls himself a fool only to hide his real purpose which is to make sharp verbal attacks upon other people.