Edward II - To What Extent Is Edward Responsible For His Own Fate?

This essay Edward II - To What Extent Is Edward Responsible For His Own Fate? has a total of 2138 words and 12 pages.

Edward II - To What Extent Is Edward Responsible For His Own Fate?

Gareth Wigg

?Edward II plantagenet King of England ,

Whose incompetence and distaste for government finally led to

His deposition and murder.?

The Elizabethan drama , Christopher Marlowe ?s, Edward the Second is, according to Aristotle?s definition of the word, a tragedy. That is to say it concerns the fall of a great man because of a mistake he has made or a flaw in his character. During this essay I will demonstrate how this definition of tragedy applies to Edward II.

Edward II was king of England, and reigned from 1307 to 1327, as a prince he had developed a close, possibly homosexual, relationship with a base commoner of very low social standing named Piers de Gaveston . The young prince?s father Edward I, also known as Edward the Longshanks due to the length of his legs, disapproved of the developing relationship and had Gaveston banished from the kingdom. Partly due to this and also due to differences in personality between the two men, the relationship between father and son was relatively hostile. The young prince had little respect for his father or his father?s wishes, illustrated by his act of immediately repealing of Gaveston?s banishment upon his father?s death,

?My father is deceased; come, Gaveston,

And share the kingdom with thy dearest friend .?

His father spent his life expanding and defending his young son?s future kingdom and in trying to educate his son in the art of war . The young prince however was totally uninterested in the art of war or in expanding or defending his kingdom, as is proved by the comments made to him when he is king,

?Look for rebellion, look to be deposed:

Thy garrisons are beaten out of France,

And, lame and poor, lie groaning at the gates;

The wild O?Neill with swarms of Irish kerns ,

Live uncontrolled within the English pale;

Unto the walls of York the Scots made road

And un-resisted, drave away rich spoils .?

?The haughty Dane commands the narrow seas,

While in the harbour thy ride thy ships un-rigged.?

Edward completely neglects his duty as a king to look after the country before himself. There are many examples of this throughout the play and I will illustrate a few of them as I go through.

His only real interests being in the arts such as the theatre, music and other frivolity. In fact it could be said that because of this interest in the arts, he did not learn how to defend himself physically or politically. Neither did he learn how he should treat his Earls and other nobles or even his wife, and that this helped bring about his downfall, this situation is mirrored further back in history by the roman emperor Nero and I do not doubt there are yet more examples,

?My lord, why do you thus incense your peers

That naturally would love and honour you,? ?the nobles

Subsequently Gaveston returns to the kingdom and sits at Edward?s right hand, he is then elevated above the earls with titles and money and the are understandably offended and angry that this is happening. The nobles demand Gaveston?s banishment and threaten civil war when they are not only ignored but also tyrannised and mocked and forced to bow to a,

?Base commoner? Edward eventually allows this banishment to be re-imposed but changes his mind at the last minute. When the Earls can take no more, a battle is fought. Edward loses and takes sanctuary in a monastery. However, he is seen and arrested, his favourite s are executed and after being cruelly treated and deposed Edward is executed. Mortimer takes power as protector over Edward the third, but is then executed himself by Edward the third. Edward III then places his head on Edward the seconds coffin as a warning to all thinking of attempting a similar act of treachery.

The reasons for Edwards?s downfall are complex and intricate, but I believe can be divided into three basic categories, Edwards relationship with those around him, his personality and the advantage to others such as Mortimer attained because of Edwards?s downfall. However short-lived they may have been.

As I have described briefly above, and in keeping with Aristotle?s definition of tragedy, certain flaws in Edwards Character were major contributors to the king?s downfall. A point I think should be made at this point is that although he is a bad king, Edward is not necessarily a bad person. To his inner circle of friends, he is loyal. It is of

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Related Topics

British people, English people, Edward II of England, European people, Earls of Chester, House of Plantagenet, Cornish people, Piers Gaveston, 1st Earl of Cornwall, Edward II, Favourite, Edward I of England, Christopher Marlowe, definition of tragedy, gaveston, homosexual relationship, elizabethan drama, marlowes, wigg, king of england, dearest friend, garrisons, plantagenet, little respect, art of war, banishment, oneill, kerns, distaste, great man, father and son, swarms, spoils

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