Jester vs. Harlequin

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Jester and Harlequin is that the Jester is a historical entertainer and Harlequin is a character from the Commedia dell’arte.

  • Jester

    A jester, court jester, or fool, was historically an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras who was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch employed to entertain him and his guests. A jester was also an itinerant performer who entertained common folk at fairs and markets. Jesters are also modern-day entertainers who resemble their historical counterparts.

    Jesters in medieval times are often thought to have worn brightly coloured clothes and eccentric hats in a motley pattern and their modern counterparts usually mimic this costume. Jesters entertained with a wide variety of skills: principal among them were song, music, and storytelling, but many also employed acrobatics, juggling, telling jokes, and magic tricks. Much of the entertainment was performed in a comic style and many jesters made contemporary jokes in word or song about people or events well known to their audiences.

  • Harlequin

    Harlequin (; French: Arlequin [aʁləkɛ̃], Italian: Arlecchino [arlekˈkiːno]) is the best-known of the zanni or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell’arte. The role is traditionally believed to have been introduced by Zan Ganassa in the late 16th century, was definitively popularized by the Italian actor Tristano Martinelli in Paris in 1584–1585, and became a stock character after Martinelli’s death in 1630.

    The Harlequin is characterized by his chequered costume. His role is that of a light-hearted, nimble, and astute servant, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, and pursuing his own love interest, Columbina, with wit and resourcefulness, often competing with the sterner and melancholic Pierrot. He later develops into a prototype of the romantic hero. Harlequin inherits his physical agility and his trickster qualities, as well as his name, from a mischievous “devil” character in medieval passion plays.

    The Harlequin character first appeared in England early in the 17th century and took centre stage in the derived genre of the Harlequinade, developed in the early 18th century by John Rich. As the Harlequinade portion of English dramatic genre pantomime developed, Harlequin was routinely paired with the character Clown. As developed by Joseph Grimaldi around 1800, Clown became the mischievous and brutish foil for the more sophisticated Harlequin, who became more of a romantic character. The most influential such in Victorian England were William Payne and his sons the Payne Brothers, the latter active during the 1860s and 1870s.

  • Jester (noun)

    One who jests, jokes or mocks.

  • Jester (noun)

    A person in colourful garb and fool’s cap who amused a medieval and early modern royal or noble court.

  • Harlequin (noun)

    A pantomime fool, typically dressed in checkered colorful clothes.

  • Harlequin (noun)

    A greenish-chartreuse color.

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  • Harlequin (noun)

    A harlequin duck.

  • Harlequin (noun)

    Any of various Taxila and Praetaxila.

  • Harlequin (adjective)

    Brightly colored, especially in a pattern like that of a harlequin clown’s clothes.

  • Harlequin (adjective)

    Of a greenish-chartreuse color.

  • Harlequin (verb)

    To remove or conjure away, as if by a harlequin’s trick.

  • Harlequin (verb)

    To make sport by playing ludicrous tricks.

  • Jester (noun)

    a professional joker or ‘fool’ at a medieval court, typically wearing a cap with bells on it and carrying a mock sceptre.

  • Jester (noun)

    a person who habitually plays the fool.

Oxford Dictionary

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