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Meanwhile, the subplot involving Cymbeline's missing sons, promised so early in the play, finally emerges in full with the appearance of Belarius and his adopted sons. They are introduced to us by Belarius' extended speech on the corruption of city life, which a number of critics have seen as an expression of the aging Shakespeare's own dissatisfaction with years spent wading in the politics of London's theatrical world. It should be noted, however, that as Guiderius points out, it is easy for the world-weary Belarius to talk about the wickedness of the world, but for his young and energetic sons, the wilderness life represents "a cell of ignorance (III.iii.33)." But whatever the playwright's own feelings, Guiderius and Arviragus ultimately win the debate and, over Belarius' cautious objections, escape from rural obscurity into the wider world--and the play rewards them for it: In doing so, they regain their birthright.
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