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Edward II

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,927 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
The last of Marlowe's great dramas, often considered his masterpiece.
Paperback, 96 pages
Published December 15th 1999 by Nick Hern Books (first published 1598)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bookworm Sean
Feb 22, 2016 Bookworm Sean rated it really liked it
This is a marvellous play; it is clearly an equal to any of Shakespeare’s histories. It’s such a shame Marlowe had his life cut short; he could have been a real rival to Shakespeare if he wrote more. He’s only got a few plays compared to Shakespeare’s forty or so. He just didn’t write enough before he died; it’s a real tragedy because he had the talent to do so much more.

Well, anyway, this is still superb regardless of Marlowe’s short repertoire of writing. I love the tragic elements, and I lov
This is not so much a review of Edward II as jotting down a few shafts of memory before they completely dissipate.

In November 1969, I went to see a performance of Edward II at "Leeds Grand", a very old, ornate theatre dating from 1878. I was interested in the playwright Christopher Marlowe, as I was studying "Doctor Faustus". My boyfriend had a school trip to see Christopher Marlowe's Edward II, and I was allowed to tag along. (He in turn got to tag along on one of my schools trips later - to se
What I've learned? When it comes to choosing between your kingdom and a pretty boy, you should probably choose your kingdom. Not that I would, but that probably just strengthens the point.
David Sarkies
Feb 08, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: A broad range of people
Recommended to David by: SBS
Shelves: tragedy
A story of sex and politics
15 February 2014

My first encounter with this play was a movie that I watched once on SBS (the Special Broadcasting Commission for you non-Australians – this television station specialises in foreign and art-house programs, and soccer, however it has earned the moniker of 'Sex before Soccer' because a lot of the foreign movies are quite saucey) and I would have to say that this movie pretty much falls into the category of 'gay cinema'. Now, because I am not homosexual
Sep 10, 2011 Rozonda rated it it was amazing
Like Shakespeare's Richard II, Edward is an ineffective ruler but not an evil one; Richard prized luxury and pleasure, Edward is blinded by his love for a male commoner. Contrary to what one might think, it's not his homosexuality which offends the nobles (they comment is a typical "weakness" of rulers and noble minds, remembering Alexander or Socrates) but his choice of a low class lover.Edward is unable to play his cards well and his wife and subjects rebel against him, murdering his beloved. ...more
Ana Maria Rînceanu
The 1970 stage adaptation of this play stars Sir Ian McKellen and James Laurenson. It is perfection!


Your lover or your kingdom... you decide...

Feb 16, 2014 Lolita rated it it was amazing
Warning: this review contains major spoilers!

(view spoiler)
Nov 26, 2015 AGamarra rated it really liked it
"Cual Juno en delirio llenaré el campo de murmullos, de suspiros y gritos; pues tras Ganimedesl no chocheo Júpiter tanto como él tras el maldito de Gaveston"
Me gusto mucho y también me sorprendió esta tragedia. ¿Recuerdan a aquel príncipe homosexual y apocado de la película "Corazón Valiente" hijo del rey apodado piernas largas? Bueno pues ese es Eduardo II. Esta tragedia me permitió conocer una parte de la historia de Inglaterra que ignoraba. Pues parece que su amor por el noble francés Gavesto
Manik Sukoco
Jan 01, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
The edition of Edward II I read was the New Mermaid Series one, which had a very good and informative introduction, and has the spelling modernized. The spelling modernization extends to place names as well as general terms. I am not sure how I feel about spelling modernization, as it is nice to see how the work was originally spelled, but it made the work very easy to read. The play itself is amazing, very engaging even though it is a history, and is mostly based on things that actually happene ...more
Alejandro Teruel
An interesting historical play on "The troublesome reign and lamentable death of Edward the Second, King of England; with the tragical fall of proud Mortimer", by Shakespeares contemporary and rival, Kit Marlowe.

Nowadays, it is probably inevitable to start by comparing the two authors; in the case of this play perhaps the closest comparison would be to Shakespeares Richard II, which indeed is sometimes said to have been inspired by Marlowes drama. Both plays are based on similar chronicles about
Timothy Ferguson
Oct 01, 2013 Timothy Ferguson rated it liked it
It’s always interesting to listen to Elizabethan plays which aren’t Shakespeare. It lets you see how much of the grandeur of his work is based one what, back then, was a sort of national style. Marlowe does good work here, and the readers in the Librivox version are great, but he’s let down a little by the historical events he’s chosen to portray, and the political slant he takes. Basically this is the period where Edward II is infatuated with Piers Gaveston, and splits his realm in half over it ...more
May 01, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chrissie
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie☯
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Richard Burton narrates the playwright's chronicle of the English Crown. Marlowe's Edward II faces rebellion. Stars John Hurt.
Dec 11, 2014 Realini rated it really liked it
Edward II by Christopher Marlowe
The Will to Power

They all fight throughout the play for power.
There are some principles involved, for some of the characters and the king is defended by his brother at one point.
In other words, this is a much more complicated play and it deals with many other aspects of life, except for the struggle to get the throne, or at least a position near it, from where the reins of power can be snatched.
I had no idea that this is one of the earliest English history
Sep 11, 2011 Mandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars instead of the 4 the play probably deserves only because my edition had endnotes instead of footnotes, which was endlessly frustrating and flow-obstructing. Not the play's fault, but the experience (unfairly) tainted the play in my first reading of it.

Edward II is less boisterous than any of the other Marlowe plays I've read, which given the subject - the deposition of King Edward II because of his low-class and homosexual love affair with Piers Gaveston - makes sense. Despite the bawd
Mar 03, 2016 Samet rated it really liked it
What a historical figure.
How adorable, how pleasing love is.
The intimacy of two men regardless of disparate backgrounds, regardless of hostile and evil attitudes.
Love is love.
Love is love.
Edward's inner world, naivety that grasp my whole attention.
What a great reading experience it was.
Nov 20, 2011 Samantha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Such a boring play. Edward II comes off as a whining idiot. His affection for Gaveston is pathetic and I cannot believe he lasted as king for more than a few weeks. I am not entirely familiar with Edward II as a real person, therefore I cannot comment much on this representation of his character. It does make me wonder how he would react to it though. In this play, he is portrayed as a love sick idiot who is so taken by a man that he forsakes his wife. There is much more to it, but that is ...more
I saw this play at London's National Theatre, so this is as much a play review as a script review. Although the play has its faults, Marlowe expresses the love between the King and his male lover so tenderly that it is SO moving, even to a non- gay like myself. Hanging over this is the knowledge that this is a doomed love, and it must all end with Edward's cruel murder. This play is a part of gay London's history, as it was put on in the sixties ((I think about '69), when people were still reluc ...more
Dec 07, 2008 Graham rated it really liked it
I remember reading EDWARD II in class while studying A-Level English Literature. We got a lot of out fun of it. I was playing Edward and a buddy of mine was Gaveston. We were 16 year olds so you can imagine the laughs we had.

Looking back, this was a strong, solid play and almost as good as the stuff Shakespeare was writing during the same period. The level of ultra violence is there as well as the telling of a genuine historical story. I only knew Edward as that guy in BRAVEHEART who got chucked
Aug 08, 2015 Ana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still trying (and apparently failing) to catch up with my readings for this year - here is another play I read.
When they asked us to read it, it sounded familiar, and when I started reading it, I realized I saw it many years ago in Mexico. It was long. Everything was super dramatic. Everyone cried. I left a bit undecided whether I had liked it or not. Written by Marlowe, Shakespeare's contemporary, it is about a mediocre king that seems to be more focused in his love relation than in ruling
Mike Jensen
Sep 03, 2012 Mike Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This excellent student edition is a good place to begin with Marlowe and this thrilling play. I think editor Martin Wiggins is quite right that Edward's downfall came not because he was homosexual, but because of the political mistakes he made in giving away favors, taxing the barons, and taking advantage of them. He may do much of this because he shows favor to his lovers, but those who bring about Edward's downfall tolerate his lovers until Edward's actions affect them. Great insight into a gr ...more
Apr 05, 2016 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Marlowe's plays often burn with action and energy. His characters don't really sit around. They act. They move. While not his best known work, Marlowe's one history play, recounting the life of Edward II, takes a number of liberties with history, but simultaneously makes for the standard amount of energy Marlowe generally displays. While this play lacks a protagonist growing in power or wisdom the way Marlowe's better known work does, it does show a fast-moving account of history as ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Marlowe’s history play is thought to have influenced Shakespeare’s Richard II. Both feature arrogant British monarchs who come under the influence of vain young men which leads to their disposition. In life, both kings were also rumored to have been gay. Of the two, Edward II is a much gayer play, but it isn’t as believable a play as Richard II.

Unlike Shakespeare who focuses on the poor policy decisions Richard makes while under the influence of his boy pals, Marlowe makes the king’s homosexual
Sep 29, 2014 Greg rated it really liked it
Edward the Second is one of the earliest English history plays. The play follows the history of this notorious reign from his recall of his friend Gaveston through the execution of Mortimer Junior for Edward II’s murder. At the beginning, Edward is wonderfully happy. Upon the death of his father, Gaveston can return to England. Unfortunately, he must agree to banish Gaveston due to the unrest of the nobles, which he does bitterly:
Are you content to banish him the realm?
May 13, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1594 with a slightly cryptic typeset where 'f' is 's' and 'f', 'VV' is 'W,' 'u' is 'v' and 'u,' etc., yet after a few pages the conversion of letters becomes almost automatic. Long play, large cast of characters, with important death scenes too briefly brushed away. Yet this is a rare play that is able to turn a villain into a hapless human being and a virtuous hero into a villain.
Apr 01, 2016 Jaena rated it really liked it
It's tragic how Marlowe did not live long enough to write more.

"Thou from this land, I from myself am banish'd."

"You must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,
And now and then stab as occasion serves."

"Ah words that make me surfet with delight:
What greater blisse can hap to Gaveston,
Then live and be the favorit of a king?
Sweete prince I come, these these thy amorous lines,
Might have enforst me to have swum from France,
And like Leander gaspt upon the sande,
So thou wouldst smile and take me in thy
Clayton Greiman
Oct 25, 2014 Clayton Greiman rated it did not like it
My main objections to Edward II are:

1. Gaveston, as a focal point of a king's downfall, is scantly a character. He is a day player in a couple of scenes in which he displays insolence and narcissism. His lack of depth leaves the reader with no sympathy for his demise, no interest in his relationship with Edward II, and (most damaging of all)no concern for the fate of the protagonist.
2. Edward II reigned as king for 21 years, but he is scripted in this play as so weak and ineffectual as to not b
Oct 22, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it
One of the more beautifully written plays from this time I've had to read. Personally, I think Marlowe's writing is much more beautiful (and more interesting!) than Shakespeare's.
Talbot Hook
Aug 19, 2015 Talbot Hook rated it liked it
Perhaps it is the format of the Play I do not like. Regardless, many plays seem to lack fluidity, and this one, especially, seemed rushed, choppy, and ill-put-together. While I know that the focus of these plays is upon words and character, the actions taken by characters were sometimes vague, and certain elements of the play were, I felt, not given their due justice. Yet, like Shakespeare, even when I do not necessarily like the play itself, the language used was painstakingly-wrought, and gorg ...more
Alex Norcross
Dec 12, 2008 Alex Norcross rated it liked it
An interesting glimpse at English Renaissance homosexuality and an interesting study on the nature of kingship and rebellion.
Sep 17, 2014 Athena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I guess I'm a little confused. I know that in the age King Edward II reigned men had "minions" but this story only focused on King Edwards's obsession with Piers Gaveston. King Edward II reigned for twenty years until he was forced to give up his crown but there was no information about his actions prior to Piers Gaveston.

King Edward II was depicted as thoughtless (unless it came to Gaveston), irresponsible, and didn't seem able to focus on anything else but Gaveston since the start of the book.
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Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (baptised 26 February 1564) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own mysterious and untimely death.

The author's Wikipedia page.
More about Christopher Marlowe...

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“All live to die, and rise to fall.” 33 likes
“I must have wanton Poets, pleasant wits,
Musitians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please:
Musicke and poetrie is his delight,
Therefore ile have Italian maskes by night,
Sweete speeches, comedies, and pleasing showes,
And in the day when he shall walke abroad,
Like Sylvian Nimphes my pages shall be clad,
My men like Satyres grazing on the lawnes,
Shall with their Goate feete daunce an antick hay.
Sometime a lovelie boye in Dians shape,
With haire that gilds the water as it glides,
Crownets of pearle about his naked armes,
And in his sportfull hands an Olive tree,
To hide those parts which men delight to see,
Shall bathe him in a spring, and there hard by,
One like Actaeon peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angrie goddesse be transformde,
And running in the likenes of an Hart,
By yelping hounds puld downe, and seeme to die.
Such things as these best please his majestie,
My lord.”
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