Gorboduc Questions and Answers
by Thomas Norton, Thomas Sackville

Start Your Free Trial

What are the main themes of Gorboduc?

Expert Answers info

Ron Michael Miraflores eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write704 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

The first prominent theme of the play is the struggle for power, and the bloodshed that it creates. The king who the play is titled after decides to divide his kingdom so that it could be ruled by his two sons, Ferrex and Porrex. This of course leads to a fierce rivalry, which is escalated by gossipers and misinformation on both sides.

The playwrights's message is that human behavior can become erratic when it comes to greed and attaining power. This is also seen later on in the play when the Duke of Albany assembles an army to take over the kingdom after the king and queen are slain by the commoners, who had become insurrectionists at that point.

The other theme is revenge. The mother kills her own younger son because she loved the older son more. In return, the public kills the mother and the king himself to avenge the younger nobleman's death. The chain of events show the toxic nature of vengeance.

A lesser theme is the fragility of power itself, even though many have fought and died to attain it. When the entire royal family were dead, there was a power vacuum in the kingdom that weakened it greatly, almost to the point of collapse. It shows the precarious nature of political structures, whether it's an ancient kingdom or today's state institutions.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial