There are a considerably numerous amount of theories and assumptions that surround Christopher Marlowe and his work. Erne believes these widespread and often time unsubstantiated theories stem strictly from the selfish interest of academic capital: what is known of Marlowe would not sell in theaters, bookshops, or seminars; when Marlowe becomes an atheist, a sodomist, and a reflection of his outrageous heroes, he is transformed into a best-seller. To avoid this trap, I have tried to stick to the uncontroversial facts that defined Marlowe’s life. Much assumed knowledge of Marlowe comes from documents of his contemporaries. Richard Baines wrote a note shortly before Marlowe’s death, pointing to Marlowe’s atheism and unorthodoxy through listing opinions Marlowe apparently entertained. Letters by Thomas Kyd also convey the same opinions of Marlowe. However, circumstances surrounding these accusations give scholars reason to question the authenticity of these claims.
In short, it is fair to say little is known about the true life of Marlowe. The claims that Marlowe was a homosexual, an atheist, an epicurean, and a Machiavellian are not based on truths, but assumptions and speculations formed through the dissection of Marlowe’s plays and the statements of his contemporaries. To best understand Marlowe then, it is important to know the difference between truth and rumor, and assume nothing of his life when analyzing his plays. Summary
The play is set in the early 14th Century. England has enmity with France, Ireland, and Scotland. Edward I has just died, leaving the throne to his eldest son, Edward II. The play opens with the return of Gaveston, Edward's lover and favorite, who had earlier been exiled by Edward's father. Edward showers Gaveston with titles, gifts, and parties. The nobles, led by Mortimer, are upset with the favoritism shown to one of lesser birth and the King's disregard of his kingly duties. They force Edward to consent to the exile of Gaveston. The king takes his anger out on the Queen, accusing her of sexual relations with Mortimer and threatening to banish her from court unless she can reverse Gaveston's exile. The Queen speaks to Mortimer, who relents, and Gaveston returns to England. The nobles are not ready to stand down, however. Even the king's half-brother, Edmund, believes Edward's behavior is threatening the kingdom and joins forces with the nobles. When the king continues his wanton behavior, the nobles (lead by the Queen and Mortimer) conspire to murder Gaveston. When Gaveston is captured Edward’s request to see Gaveston before his death is initially granted, but Warwick captures Gaveston and kills him before Gaveston gets to see the king. As animosity between England and France increase, Edward sends Isabella to fix French-English relations, too heart-broken over Gaveston to be overly concerned with the situation at hand. At home, the situation is no better. The nobles give Edward an ultimatum: he can either rid himself of his favorites (for it is obvious that Spencer, another man of lowly birth has become the new favorite) and put those of proper right back in power, or he can prepare himself for war with the nobles. He chooses to go to war with the nobles. However, realizing that Isabella will side with the nobles, he sends word with a messenger for no aid to be given to Isabella. While Edward’s request is granted by the King of France, Isabella, now joined by Edmund and Mortimer, are given money and men by Sir John of Hainult. Although Edward is warned of Isabella’s invasion, her numbers are too many and Edward is forced to flee. Edward, Badlock, and Spencer are captured; Edward is sent to the tower. He resigns his crown, to give the right to his son, Edward III, and waits for death in prison. Through all the natural attempts made to end Edward’s life he remains alive, and Mortimer is forced to hire an assassin to kill Edward. King Edward III hears of his father’s death and...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document