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Shakespeares treatment of illegitimacy in the play King Lear can be interpreted in many ways depending on the audience The situation of illegitimacy is portrayed through the relationships of the characters the Earl Of Gloucester and his two sons Edgar and Edmund Edmund is the illegitimate son while Edgar was born within the law We learn of Edmunds illegitimacy in the opening scene in the first act where The Earl of Gloucester is holding a conversation with Kent while Edmund is nearby Gloucester speaks flippantly and lightly of the way his illegitimate son came into the world while introducing him to Kent saying Though this knave came something saucily into the world before he was sent for yet his mother was fair there was good sport at his making and the whoreson must be acknowledged Act I Scene I Lines 19-24 There are several peculiar things about this dialogue One of the interesting aspects of Gloucester and Kents discussion is the readiness of Glou cester to admit he has fathered a child out of wedlock This may be influenced by the fact that Edmund had obviously grown into a son that a father would be proud to have At first meeting he seems polite courteous and loyal Perhaps these admirable character traits are cause for Gloucesters willingness to publicly claim Edmund as his own Another unusual occurrence in the opening dialogue is that Gloucester calls Edmund a whoreson and a knave while he is close by and probably in hearing distance This seems odd because Gloucester professes to feel only love for his son and no shame but he seems to almost mock him in this situation One explanation for this behavior may be that deep down Gloucester still harbors some discomfort about the relationship between himself and his son despite his verbal proclamations of shamelessness This could be inferred from Gloucesters statement His breeding sir hath been at my charge I have so
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