The dominant theme of Edward II is the theme of many of Marlowe's (and Shakespeare's) histories: the will to power and ultimately, the corruption inherent in power. Edward isn't murdered because of his affection for Gaveston. Rather, it is because in bestowing such extravagant favors on Gaveston, a commoner, he is subverting the ‘natural’ order of his position, neglecting both his kingdom and his family. He comes to realize that Gaveston wrongs him and he confesses in Act V,Scene III-
“O Gaveston,’tis for thee that I am wrong’d,
For me,both thou and both the Spensers died!
And for your sakes a thousand wrongs I’ll take.
The Spensers’ ghosts,wherever they remain,
Wish well to mine; then, tush, for them I’ll die.”
The Act V,Scene V in “Edward II” is the murder scene. It is laid in the Berkeley castle where imprisoned Edward II is subjected to endless disgrace and inhuman torture. Matrevis and Gurney who have been posted there by Mortimer take all possible measures to torture the king by compelling him to stand up on the knees in mire and puddle for ten days. To allow him no sleep, one plays a drum continuously. The king can not eat the bread and water which they throw at him. He is badly in need of sleep and sustenance. He can not stand any more in the stifling stench and filth. Matrevis and Gurney wonder that still – “the king dies not”. But the king must die soon. So Mortimer has sent Lightborn, a professional murderer, to do the rest. Lightborn, as it appears, has been directed by Mortimer to murder the king artfully as to leave no sign of the violent death. Lightborn wants to meet the king and asks Matrevis and Gurney to keep ready a red hot iron spit, a table and a feather bed. Lightborn with a lantern in his hand enters into the dark dungeon. From the looks of the murderer the king knows that death is staring at him. But the man conceals his dark motive and says that he has come to comfort the king and bring him joyful news. He poses to be...
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