Character of young Mortimer in Christopher Marlowe’s, "Edward II"


Young Mortimer is the second important character of Christopher Marlowe’s, Edward II (1592?), which was one of the earliest successful English historical dramas and a model for Shakespeare's Richard II and Richard III. He is portrayed with great spirit and power to A. E. Boas, “ the lines of his character , are of course , toned down to suit the altered environment, but there is the same note of lawlessly aspiring  ambition .Boas has presented the bird’s eye view of Mortimer’s character .

In the play Roger de Mortimer is a somewhat imbued with dual- personality. He is a strange combination of strait forward bluntness and Machiavellian tactics. His character undergoes a change in the play. Since time is foreshortened and events develop rapidly in the change I Mortimer’s character comes a bit too suddenly. The few months during which he stays in France with Queen Isabella make him a different man altogether.

At the very beginning of the play Mortimer’s actions symbolize his patriotism. He is overwhelmed with the love for his country and we are made to feel that he would do anything for the sake of his country’s dignity and solidarity. It is he who says to the king regarding Galveston’s banishment that they would not allow Gaveston to enter the boundaries of their country because:
 “Mine uncle here, this earl and I myself.
Were sworn to your father at his death.
For Mortimer will hang his armour up.”

When the devilish clutch of Gaveston makes the king to forget all his noble duties, Mortimer prepared to rebel against king. He says, “we’d hale him from the bosom of the king, / ----------------------- / will be the ruin of the realm and his.” Mortimer’s hate for Gaveston is beyond question .He is bent upon removing him staking all his interest and energy. He instigates all the Barons to rise in revolt against the king to banish Gaveston. He asks arch bishop of Canterbury, “Then will you join with us, that be his peers, / To banish or be head that Gaveston.”

Mortimer is the angry young man, impudent to the king, fiercely impetuous, the out – spoken spokesman for his elders. He is the most scornful of them. His anger is unbridled and others see his anger swell and urge him to control it bu goes on _______
“I can not nor I will not I must speak.”
  He is exceptionally blunt, down right and hearty. W.D.  Briggs sees him a model of Hotspur. At the very step he flouts the authority of the king. His strong voice and will prevail with other barons who ultimately follows his lead and opposed by king.

Edward II
Young Mortimer’s illicit intimacy with queen Isabella raises the question of his patriotism. He is moved by the queen’s miserable plight – result of the king’s attachment with Gaveston. With winning smiles and the practice of feminine art she easily prevails on him to agree to the recall of his bitterest foe, Gaveston, from exile. When she complains that king does not love her he advises her to cease to love him in refurn. Moreover when Mortimer invites queen to sail before the battle of Borough bridge the queen though rejects his offer she likes –
 “So, well hast thou deserved, sweet Mortimer,
As Isabel could live with thee for ever.”
If it possible that Mortimer’s illicit love for the queen is partly responsible for his hostility to the king.

Mortimer is the ambitious Machiavellian character. When he was imprisoned he revealed his Machiavellian identity. In prison he verbalize his ambition,
“What, Mortimer! Can ragged stony walls
Immure thy virtue that aspires to heaven?
 Mortimer’s hope surmounts his fortune for.”
After his return from France, Mortimer becomes the greatest power behind the throne on which he placed a mere boy. He is now openly the queen’s lover _______
“for Mortimer and Isabel do kiss, while they conspire.” He is no more an honest lord. He is seducer of women, a dissembler and a traitor filled with an excessive lust for power;
“The prince I rule, the queen do I command,
And with a lowly conge to the ground,
I seal, I conceal, I do what I will.”

It is an honest confession of a power drunk dissembler, Willy hypocrite who does not scruple to use his ill- got power to plague his enemy and advance his friends for his own safety he makes an extremely cruel, treacherous and deceitful plan for the king’s murder. And the murder is arranged most cunningly. Lightborn, a professional murderer, is done, Lightborn is stabbed to death by the order of Mortimer so that the lord protector’s hand in it may never come to light.

Young Mortimer has to face the nemesis as the prince Edward does not spare him. He is caught in between, for hatching the conspiracy of king’s murder and is sentenced to death by King Edward –iii. He realizes the eternal philosophy of life;
“Bose fortune, now see that in thy wheel
There is a point to which when men aspire
Thy tumble headlong down.”

Thus, he is large stature than ay other character in the play. In force of will and power of intellect there is no match for him. He fought and won great battles, he indulged in great crimes; and fell like a great man. Though some of the critics called him as the greatest philosophical character in the entire range of English dramatic art some critics spine that his philosophical utterance are hollow without any substance.

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