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Christopher Marlowe's play, Edward II: Historical background

Christopher Marlowe's play, Edward II: Historical background

Christopher Marlowe's play, Edward II: Historical background

The historical background surrounding the composition of Christopher Marlowe's play "Edward II" is intriguing and adds context to its creation. Here are some key points:

    Reign of King Edward II: The play is based on the reign of King Edward II of England, who ruled from 1307 to 1327. Edward II's reign was marked by political instability, conflicts with the nobility, and his controversial relationships with favorites, notably Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser.

    Marlowe's Era: Christopher Marlowe was a playwright and contemporary of William Shakespeare, belonging to the Elizabethan era. He lived from 1564 to 1593, and his career flourished in the late 1580s and early 1590s. "Edward II" is believed to have been written around 1592.

    Socio-Political Climate: England during Marlowe's time was grappling with questions of political authority, the role of the monarchy, and the power struggle between the monarch and the nobility. Marlowe's play reflects the tensions and conflicts between the king and the nobles, as well as the repercussions of personal relationships in the realm of politics.

    Source Material: Marlowe drew various elements heavily from historical accounts and chronicles while composing "Edward II." The primary source for the play is likely the chronicle "Holinshed's Chronicles," specifically the section on the reign of Edward II.

    Controversial Themes: "Edward II" explores themes that were considered daring and controversial at the time, such as homosexuality and the abuse of power. Marlowe's portrayal of the king's passionate relationship with his favorites, particularly Gaveston, would have challenged societal norms and expectations.

    Marlowe's Reputation and Influence: Christopher Marlowe was known for his bold and provocative writing style, and "Edward II" is no exception. The play showcases Marlowe's dramatic and poetic talents, as well as his ability to create complex characters and explore the depths of human nature.

    Performance and Reception: While the exact circumstances of the play's performance are unclear, "Edward II" was likely staged by one of the acting companies of the time, such as the Admiral's Men or the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Its reception would have varied, as it dealt with sensitive subjects and challenged the established order.

Overall, the historical background surrounding the composition of "Edward II" reveals the political climate and societal context in which Marlowe wrote, shedding light on the themes and motivations behind the play's creation.


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