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And then he busted into tears, and so did everybody. Then somebody sings out, "Take up a collection for him, take up a collection!" Well, a half a dozen made a jump to do it, but somebody sings out, "Let HIM pass the hat around!" Then everybody said it, the preacher too. (20.35)
The religious crowd is presented as foolish when they are conned out of over $80.
Well, that night we had OUR show; but there warn't only about twelve people there – just enough to pay expenses. And they laughed all the time, and that made the duke mad; and everybody left, anyway, before the show was over, but one boy which was asleep. So the duke said these Arkansaw lunkheads couldn't come up to Shakespeare; what they wanted was low comedy – and maybe something ruther worse than low comedy, he reckoned. He said he could size their style. So next morning he got some big sheets of wrapping paper and some black paint, and drawed off some handbills, and stuck them up all over the village. (22.16)
The duke and king claim that the townspeople are too ignorant to understand Shakespeare, and yet they are made foolish by their inability to comprehend the Shakespearian quality of Sherburn’s speech. We give more insight into Sherburn in his "Character Analysis."
…and at last when he'd got everybody's expectations up high enough, he rolled up the curtain, and the next minute the king come a-prancing out on all fours, naked; and he was painted all over, ring- streaked-and-striped, all sorts of colors, as splendid as a rainbow. And – but never mind the rest of his outfit; it was just wild, but it was awful funny. The people most killed themselves laughing; and when the king got done capering and capered off behind the scenes, they roared and clapped and stormed and haw-hawed till he come back and done it over again, and after that they made him do it another time. Well, it would make a cow laugh to see the shines that old idiot cut. (23.1)
The duke and the king claim that the townspeople are stupid, but the king makes an utter fool of himself on stage. This is a prime example of the king’s inflated sense of self (besides the obvious fact that he calls himself "the king"). These actions show the king's inability to apply his judgmental eye to his own shortcomings.