In both Marlowe’s Edward II and in Shakespeare’s Othello, there exists a naturally restoring system which relies upon a central quality to renew itself when it is destabilized. In Edward II the system is that of the monarchy, which always has a successor to the throne despite the instability caused by ineffective kings and seditious subjects. In Othello, it is the system of marriage that stays strong due to both partners’ faith and trust. In Othello, the handkerchief represents fidelity and trust, while in Edward II the mutually symbiotic relationship that exists between a king and his subjects represents the balance of power. The absence of the central qualities reveals that the monarchy system is stronger than the marriage system, as there remains a successor to the throne at the end of Edward II, whereas in Othello, Othello’s interference with the system causes his marriage to collapse. In Edward II, Edward breaks up the social order comprising his kingdom by committing many sodomitical actions that result in the destabilization of his own reign. Edward’s powers as king depend on the continued loyalty of his subjects. In return for his protection and resources, he would gain their dutiful obedience as a subject of his kingdom. This mutually symbiotic system worked well in balancing the power, as the people cannot live without a ruler to protect and guide them, while the king cannot lead without any subjects who will follow him. As long as both parties are doing their duties, order is maintained in the kingdom. When Gaveston enters the scene, disorder begins to occur, as Edward begins to become absent in his duties, choosing to frolic with Gaveston and enjoy sinful pleasures rather than guide his people. Edward has replaced his subjects with Gaveston, choosing newfound companionship over years of loyalty. His favor, the symbol representing his participation in the mutual bond between king and vassal, is directed immediately towards...
Cited: Fisher, Will. "Handkerchiefs and Early Modern Ideologies of Gender." Shakespeare
Studies 28.05829399 (2000): 199-207. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 6 Mar. 2012.
Marlowe, Christopher. “Edward the Second”. Broadview Editions. Editor Mathew Martin.
Claremont, Canada: Broadview Press, 2010. Print.
Shakespeare, William. “Othello.” Pelican Shakespeare. Pelican Edition. Editor Russ
McDonald. United States: Penguin Books, 2001. Print.
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