In Erasmus', Praise of Folly, Folly represents a mask Erasmus wears to portray society's madness. He takes on this mask in order to satirize aspects of society that even he represents. He attacks humanity as a whole and not any one person, therefore, no one can escape Folly's mockery and madness. Folly depicts an inverted world where things normally seen as good are bad and bad are good. Folly portrays this inversion throughout the text using irony to reveal a meaning behind her so called madness.
Throughout the text, Erasmus makes comparisons between a wise man and a fool. In this comparison, Folly inverts their inherent meaning and behaviors to reflect an important insight on the importance of Folly. Folly reveals the idea that a wise man does not take chances due to fear, whereas, a fool who is undeterred by danger will. She states that the fool deserves prudence because of their willingness to experience things without modesty and without fear. Folly shows us that common sense is derived from life's experiences. In the eyes of Folly, being a wise man does not correlate to having common sense. On the contrary, an uninhibited fool will bear more prudence than a wise man. Erasmus continues to say,
"The man of learning hides behind the volumes of the ancients, and derives nothing from them but empty verbal formulas. The fool approaching the problem directly and venturing upon it boldly, acquires true prudence from this experience..." (27).
In essence, Folly creates the inversion that the accumulation of knowledge does not necessarily mean intelligence because it is learned and not necessarily understood. Regurgitating information and facts does not imply a true understanding behind the knowledge obtained, whereas, a fool acquires his common sense through experiencing life without inhibition. Granted a fool may make what looks like mistakes to the wise man, however, the fool's mistakes is what earns him the desirable attribute, prudence....