Special Sub-Topic: "Edward II" - Marlowe's Classic History Play
|From whom has Gaveston received a letter that he reads aloud at the beginning of the play?|
Edward II. The letter is from the newly-crowned king who invites his old "favourite" Gaveston to "share the kingdom" with him. We soon learn that Gaveston had been banished from the country by Edward I for being a bad influence on his son. The word "share" is not used lightly by Edward II as he soon demonstrates.
|Which sorts of men does Gaveston plan to use to make the "pliant" king do anything that he (Gaveston) wants?|
poets and musicians. From his first long speech we learn that Gaveston has a deep understanding of what pleases the king and he intends to arrange these things to maintain and develop his influence with Edward. Included on the list of what Edward will like are nearly naked boys carrying olive branches to hide their private parts.
|What relation are the Younger Mortimer and the Elder Mortimer to each other?|
nephew and uncle. The Younger Mortimer proves to be the most formidable of the nobles at Edward's court. This does not mirror history for at the beginning of Edward's reign the real Younger Mortimer was of no importance. Marlowe deliberately made him important early on so that his later actions should spring from a well-established background.
|What pet-name for the King does Gaveston use in his aside to the audience?|
Ned. "Well done, Ned" is what Gaveston says when he secretly applauds Edward for the way in which he argues with the nobles. In an age when ritual, ceremony and respect were a part of the "awe" that surrounded a monarch that one word "Ned" would reveal to the audience the extent of the two men's intimacy.
|Who is the only noble to speak out on the King's side in this first confrontation at the beginning of the play?|
Edmund of Kent, Edward's half-brother. Kent is a very important character in this play. Again historically he (and the Prince of Wales) would be too young to take part in such a scene. Marlowe invests him with age and authority so that the audience can watch his several changes of allegiance during the course of the play. For the audience he often represents "the good of the country".
|Lancaster leaves the court in defiance telling Edward he must either change his mind or expect to see something floating in blood. What is it that will "float in blood"?|
the throne. In reality Thomas of Lancaster was the greatest of Edward's opponents. He was the greatest landowner in the country and had a strong power base in the north. Marlowe makes full use of these historical facts but sometimes falsely transfers the leadership of the nobles to the Younger Mortimer.
|Which clergyman do Gaveston and the King throw into the gutter?|
Bishop of Coventry. This produces a tremendous piece of onstage violence. Not only do they knock him to the ground they also go through a mock christening with gutter water. To attack a priest in this way would be regarded as not just violent but also sacrilegious. The Bishop of Coventry was one of the men who had urged that Gaveston should be banished.
|Amongst the titles that Edward II showers on Gaveston are Lord High Chamberlain, Chief Secretary to the State, King and Lord of Man. Which important earldom does he also give to Gaveston?|
Cornwall. A lot of a medieval king's power lay in the patronage that he controlled. Lands and titles were his to bestow in order to build up support. In his eagerness to give presents to his friend Edward ignores common sense and erodes his own power base. Kent points out that Gaveston doesn't really deserve such honours.
|With which of the nobles does the Queen seem to find the most sympathy?|
Mortimer. From the very beginning of her complaints against Gaveston it is to the Younger Mortimer that Queen Isabella first turns. Marlowe obviously wanted to develop the idea of their illicit relationship beginning gradually very early on in Edward's reign.
|How does Edward try to influence the nobles into a position where they won't support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his petition to have Gaveston exiled again?|
He tries to bribe them with titles.. So besotted is he with Gaveston that he offers them the whole kingdom to be shared equally amongst them all...
"So I may have some nook or corner left
To frolic with my dearest Gaveston."
|Which power base does he threaten to destroy after the nobles have left and he has signed the paper banishing Gaveston?|
The power of the Pope in Rome. He threatens the church in Rome. He talks of burning down its buildings and of filling the Tiber with slaughtered priests. It is all really a pointless rant brought on by the grief he feels because he is about to be parted from Gaveston.
|What does Edward call Isabella just before he says farewell to Gaveston?|
French strumpet. Though the name of "she-wolf" was applied to Isabella after her later affair with Mortimer this is not the term used by Marlowe. Here Edward calls her a "strumpet" or prostitute. It foreshadows what is to happen in hinting at her adultery with Mortimer but at this stage of the play Edward has no grounds for such an accusation. His own behaviour with Gaveston would not bear a close scrutiny.
|What is the main argument that Mortimer puts to the other nobles to suggest that Gaveston should be brought back from banishment?|
Once back in the country a hired assassin could easily kill him.. It is never made clear whether it is Mortimer or the Queen who comes up with the plan to have Gaveston killed by a "base slave". The Queen does want to win back the love of the King and the nobles are indeed rewarded but the assassination of the man they despise is the principal motive. Overseas Gaveston is safe and has lots of Edward's money.
|What advice does the Elder Mortimer give to the Younger Mortimer before he departs to fight in Scotland?|
Leave well alone for plenty of kings have had lovers and favourites.. The Elder Mortimer believes that Edward may grow out of his infatuation for Gaveston.He lists Alexander and Achilles as great men who have had male lovers. The Younger Mortimer knows it isn't the sexual question that is important but the wilful neglect of the country and the overturning of all the normal rules of good government.
|From whom does the King's niece receive a love letter?|
Gaveston. The King's niece appears to be deeply in love with Gaveston who seems to have an equal appeal to both men and women. This would not necessarily cause a conflict for Edward for he seeks any way he can to please his "minion". Marrying Gaveston off to a rich heiress is entirely consistent with his character. The two men may enjoy a sexual relationship but we must remember that Edward himself was the father of four children via Isabella.
|Where does Gaveston land on his second return from exile?|
Tynemouth. Either Marlowe got his history mixed up or this must have been an extraordinary voyage. He was reported as being in exile in Ireland yet he lands not on the west coast of Britain but on the east.
|The symbolic device that Mortimer describes to the King as they wait for Gaveston to land is of a cedar tree with eagles on the top branches. What symbolises Gaveston in the rest of this device?|
a canker or cancer. The cedar tree represents England (and thus Edward as well), the nobles are the eagles and Gaveston is the cancer that eats away at the tree from within and eventually gets into the highest branch of all. In Lancaster's heraldic device Gaveston is a fish hated by all the other fishes and eventually swallowed.
|Which of the nobles attacks and wounds Gaveston when he offers each of them insults on his return to England?|
Younger Mortimer. This is a splendid example of Mortimer being unable to contain his hotheadness. He was the one that had arranged the plot to have Gaveston privately killed by an assassin yet he loses his temper under provocation and ensures that Gaveston is likely to be very closely guarded. The Queen is dismayed at this action of his.
|What complaint do Lancaster and Mortimer make against Edward when they decide to "speak their minds"?|
All of these points (He let England be humiliated at Bannockburn, He is not stopping the rebellion in Ireland, He is allowing the Danes to rule the seas in the Channel). These are just some of the charges in the catalogue of complaints they make against Edward. Neglect of the kingdom is the underlying accusation. Lancaster's complaint about Bannockburn does not accord well with historical fact because it was that Earl's refusal to send soldiers that made the English so vulnerable to Robert the Bruce's clever battle plan. Also by the time of Bannockburn Gaveston was already dead.
|When Kent decides to throw in his lot with the rebels who is the nobleman who immediately decides to trust him?|
Younger Mortimer. "never was Plantagenet
False of his word and therefore trust we thee."
is what the Younger Mortimer says in greeting. At this point in the play Mortimer appears chivalrous but also commanding. He overturns the suspicions of Lancaster and Warwick who in reality were much more important than he.
|After they have captured Gaveston which two men amongst the nobles want to give Edward one last chance of seeing his favourite?|
Pembroke and Arundel. Pembroke is often regarded by historians as adopting a middle ground between the tyranny of the King and the worst ambitions of the rebels. Marlowe reduces his role in this play to that of mediator on this occasion.
|Which of the rebels is in the end directly responsible for Gaveston's death?|
Warwick. Warwick manages to ambush Pembroke's men and take control of their prisoner. Gaveston is thrown into a ditch and his head is cut off. Inevitably when the King and the Spencers win the battle of Borougbridge Warwick is one of the ones executed.
|To which foreign nobleman does Isabella turn when her brother, the King of France, refuses to help her?|
Sir John of Hainault. Edward, Prince of Wales, (later Edward III) is married to Philippa of Hainault and she bears him many children whose descendants complicate the royal inheritance for centuries to come. Queen Isabella gets the army she needs to invade England and rid the realm of the Spencers, Edward's new favourites.
|After the Earl of Leicester and Sir Thomas Berkeley Edward II is placed with his final set of gaolers. What are their names?|
Matrevis and Gurney. Matrevis and Gurney keep Edward in the sewer of the castle and torture him by continual noise. In the end they admit Mortimer's assassin, Lightborn, and then "clean up" the crime by killing Lightborn himself.
|In the play "Edward II" how does Marlowe arrange the King's death on stage?|
The murderers stamp him to death using a table on top of him in bed.. Using a red-hot poker on stage was not a viable option yet most of the audience of Marlowe's play would know this traditional story of the punishment of the homosexual. So he hints at it by Lightborn asking for "a spit" which is red-hot and then devises the horrible stamping on the table option as an only slightly less shocking alternative.
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