Edward II Questions and Answers
by Christopher Marlowe

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How is the "irony of kingship" evident in Christopher Marlowe's play Edward the Second?

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One way to discuss the “irony of kingship” in Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward II is to focus on the ways in which Edward himself falls short of Renaissance ideals of a good king.  Edward, in other words, has inherited the title of monarch, but he often fails to live up to the responsibilities of ruling a monarchy.  His personal affection for Gaveston is so great that he often neglects his duties to his other subjects. This kind of neglect is already implied in Gaveston’s opening speech.

In that speech, Gaveston begins by reading two sentences from a personal letter he has received from Edward:

My father is deceas'd. Come, Gaveston,

And share the kingdom with thy dearest friend.

No sooner does Edward’s father die, and no sooner does Edward thereby become king, than he is already focusing, ironically, on his own personal desires. The idea that a monarch could “share” the kingdom with a friend (no matter how “dear”) would have struck many of Marlowe’s...

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