Gaveston: And, like Leander, gasped upon the sand,
So thou wouldst smile and take me in thy arms.
The sight of London to my exiled eyes
Is as Elysium to a new-come soul… (Marlowe 1.1.8-11)
Context: Gaveston had been exiled from England, separated from Edward, whom he loves. He receives a letter from Edward, telling Gaveston to come “And share the kingdom with thy dearest friend” (Marlowe 1.1.2). Gaveston is incredibly pleased to be returning to Edward.
Metaphor: Gaveston compares himself to the Greek mythological hero, “Leander.” Leander supposedly swam across the Hellespont every night to be with the woman he loved. Gaveston is using the story of Leander to compare to his reunion with the king. Gaveston also uses another metaphor to describe his feelings upon seeing London. He compares it the experience of seeing “Elysium to a new-come soul” (Marlowe 1.1.11). Elysium is the ancient Greek perception of an afterlife paradise. Gaveston is comparing the euphoria he will feel to that of entering Elysium or paradise.
Commentary: Gaveston is over enthused to be returning to the king after being exiled for so long. Gaveston says, “My knee shall bow to none but to the king,” which emphasizes his love for Edward II.
Gaveston: Ay, ay. These words of his move me as much
As if a goose should play the porpentine,
And dart her plumes, thinking to pierce my breast. (Marlowe 1.1.38-40)
Context: The Third Poor Man tells Edward that he was a soldier and Edward responds by telling him that he is not fighting a war, therefore he has no need for him. The Third Poor Man replies with a curse saying that Edward will perish by a soldier’s hand.
Metaphor: Gaveston compares his feelings towards the threat to his feelings of a goose imitating a porcupine and attacking him. The goose would be using its feathers as quills with the intent of harming him. Edward is stating that the Third Poor Man threatening him is like a goose attempting to harm him.
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