In "Edward II," what is the role of Isabella in a world where men are dominant?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The study guide notes that Isabella of France, wife of Edward II, played "a small but vicious role in her husband's destruction." That may be true in Marlowe's play Edward II, but in reality, she may have had a much bigger role in his downfall.

In Braveheart, Isabella is portrayed as a sweet, naive young princess. In reality, she was called She-Wolf. Her marriage was rocky, mostly because of Edward's preference for his "favorites," Piers Gaveston and Hugh le Despenser. Edward allowed Gaveston to wear the queen's wedding jewelry in public, and he showered gifts and titles on Despenser.

When trouble with France occurred, Isabella, whose brother was the king, offered to negotiate. Once there, she met and fell in love with Roger Mortimer. With Mortimer's army, she returned to England, took the throne, and imprisoned Edward in a dark, damp dungeon. He died not long after. Some say that he was murdered with a red-hot poker inserted into his rectum, that his screams could be heard for miles and that his gruesome expression of pain froze on his face in death.

Is it any wonder she was called the She-Wolf? She was as strong-willed and cruel as any man.

When Edward III came to power, he killed Mortimer and banished his mother from court, giving her a small stipend.