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The Irony of Kingship - Edward II Character

            Marlowe's Edward-II, which derives its sources from the chronicles by Holinshed and Stowe, centres around the tragedy of misrule in a complex and intriguing manner. Marlowe accentuates the follies of kingship involving a misunderstanding of the role of a king in English history. The play begins at a critical point of English history, marking the passage from the supposedly stable reign of Edward-I to a chaotic one of his son, who unfortunately could match neither the valour nor the statesmanship of his predecessor. Edward is guided by the impulses of a royal position that is in perpetual conflict with his individual needs. King Edward's private and public life is constantly under scrutiny in the eyes of the rebellious barons, who refuse to acknowledge his homoerotic involvement with Gaveston. Marlowe effectively presents an almost transvestite monarch given to the sensuous pleasures of hedonistic indulgences. Edward is no Tamburlaine or Doctor Faustus to run after power. Rather, his hedonism makes him too weak to properly dispose power.
             The very beginning of the play gives us a hint to the character of Edward, his irresponsibility towards his kingdom, as he writes in a letter to Gaveston, "My father is deceased; come Gaveston, and share the kingdom with thy dearest friend." This is not the only instance, where Edward's casual approach to his kingdom is evident, but also when he says to his nobles, "Make several kingdoms of this monarchy, and share it equally amongst you all." Such disregard for the kingdom is a mere blasphemy of a king. He is the head of the state who is supposed to safeguard his kingdom and not spend all his time and money merry-making. Edward-II is introduced to the audience as a pliant king, a pleasure seeker, who prefers to divide his kingdom than have his lover exiled. The king's position is a solitary one, but Edward could not comprehend the importance and responsibilities of his position.

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