Blank Verse

Christopher Marlowe wrote Edward II in blank verse, a verse form utilizing unrhymed lines with traditional meter. Marlowe didn't invent blank verse, but he did popularize it among English dramatists, many of whom wrote in rhyming verse prior to the posthumous publication of Edward II. Marlowe's blank verse freed him from the constraints of traditional rhyming poetry, allowing him to write in a natural rhythm, producing dialogue that sounded colloquial and unrehearsed. He adhered to the constraints of iambic pentameter (lines of ten syllables and five metrical feet, where the "feet" are pairs of one stressed and one unstressed syllable) but was otherwise free to experiment. Shakespeare would continue Marlowe's experiments in blank verse to great effect.

Historical Drama

Edward II falls into the category of "historical drama"—a genre for which Shakespeare was famous, with Richard III being a prime example. Historical drama is one of the three main genres of Western theater, alongside tragedy and comedy. Traditionally, history plays are based on historical narratives of some importance, as is Edward II, which dramatizes the downfall of King Edward II of England, who reigned from 1307 to 1327. Other important historical figures include Queen Isabella, Edward's wife; Piers Gaveston, Edward's lover and favorite; and Mortimer Junior, Earl of March, who leads the Marcher lords against Edward in the Despenser War. Marlowe compresses the events of Edward II's twenty-year reign into one play, bringing drama to the historical narrative.

Source Material

Marlowe used Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland as source material while writing Edward II. Holinshed's narrative of the reign of Edward II is non-chronological, with a number of events appearing disjointed in place...

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