The essay addresses the critical topic of surrogate parenting in Renaissance England. Despite much criticism on various "reconstituted" families in Shakespeare and Renaissance literature, I argue that literary critics have neglected the significant topic of adoption/surrogate parenting that is so central in the play All's Well That Ends Well. Three models of single surrogate parenthood—the Countess of Roussillon as adoptive mother, the guardian King, and the advisor Lafeu—provide a unique perspective diverging from normative cultural conception of surrogacy. Surrogacy seems to have greater force than biology at times in the play. The essay explores why Shakespeare offers such a positive view of surrogacy over biology, given the often-expressed fear of nonbiological parenting, and raises the question of heredity as the basis for social organization


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pp. 337-355
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