Byung-Eun Lee, The Aristocracy in Edward Ⅱ


Edward II's weakness is the subject of the play, but Marlowe neither
impugns his right to the throne nor offers any explanation for his appearance
in a line of strong and efficient kings. Marlowe even omits an interesting
history about a claimant to the throne: he asserted that he was the rightful
kingof England and Edward the son of a carter.
This paper argues that the play deals with many matters bearing on
Elizabethan concepts of the aristocratic family. The source of the chief conflict
between the king and the barons is based on the barons's aristocratic pride; the
chief complaint of the barons is that the king constantly associates with one
substantially his inferior in birth. Edward's lack of interest in his family is more
than incidental to his characterization as a weak and irresponsible king: for
examples, Edward addresses Gaveston, Spencer, and Baldock as "thou," the
young prince as "you"; in the same way, he addresses Gaveston as "brother,"
and banishes his real brother. However, young Edward, the ideal prince, is
dedicated to his family. The contrasts make a responsibility for family
relationships an important virtue in the play.

Key Words: Marlowe, Edward II, aristocracy, class-consciousness, Gaveston, homosexuality