Power and Suffering is one of the Themes of Christoper Marlowe's "Edward-II"


Some critics are of the view that Christoper Marlowe's ‘Edward-II’  is a play of  “power and suffering.” This theme, in a very large manner is visible in the play. The root cause in the working of this theme is the common flaw of self assertion or the exercise of power by the characters who are responsible for the inevitable tragedy of the play.

In the play the final impression is of Edward’s suffering. It is bound up with power – the power that Edward loses, the power that Mortimer wins. If a man had no power over other, there could be no suffering such as Edward knew. King Edward was too desperate for the power and just of friendship that he can not foresee the future consequences. He even deserts his wife and deprive her in his love. Here starts cropping up the seeds in infidelity in her heart. The king gives vent to his sufferings fanning the fire of hostility. He is robbed of his friendship for barons murder Gravestone. When he was defeated  and is imprisoned he is made in undergo all sorts of physical and mental tortures like a mean prisoner is inflicted with . But till his imprisonment he keeps on boasting and never pays any heed to the fact that a king cannot continue to be in power until he cares for the advice of hi9s subordinates and threat tyrant faces defeat at the hands  of his own subjects where all his pride of power is nullified.

Gaveston is such a man who always gloats. He enjoys the riches and puts an airs of vanity. He along with king lays his hands on the Bishoo of Coventry . He treats the poor extravagantly and servilely . He is an opportunist and thinks to give punishment who were keen to banish him or exile him. He thinks Mortimer was a traitor and wishes death way overtook him and feels happy when Edward gives good account of himself by asserting his authority in his favour . He in his intoxication of power asserts.

What should a priest do with a fair house of prison may best be seen him holiness”. He degrades the barons and puts in king’s mind the ill feeling against his wife. But at last he is captured by them and the wheel of his suffering starts rotating at a great pace showing explicitly his inevitable end. Thus Gaveston meets his miserable end parenting to his own pride.




Mortimer though at first appears as a true patriot ,but when the character is fathomed if becomes clear that his patriotism was a mere show off . He cleverly wins the favour of the queen and putting into her brain that the king deserted her. He himself  with the barons raises a revolt against the king with a pretension of patriotism. When the king is taken to prison he tortured him and became blind in the exercise of power. But Mortimer himself also falls in the jaws of sufferings. When the prince at the last part of the drama understood his father’s murder he exercises his power in the truest sense of the word and orders the execution of young Mortimer and Mortimer cougronts the evil consequences of his evil doing.

Queen Isabella though at the first part of the play appears as tender hearted affectionate wife became very much a false hearted queen not to hesitate to join with Mortimer in the murder of king Edward –II. When the king is sentenced to imprisonment she takes the authority in her hand to lead her son. In spite assurance that she would protect her son from all the foes ,the realization of the prince concerning his father’s death made her to be sent to the tower as a prisoner.

Thus in this play who starts flying with power is likely to face the fate of Icarus. Therefore, boundless power is ought to end in suffering. Marlowe focuses attention on the suffering , still consequential on the exercise  and the dream of power and it is the major fact.


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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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