As far as sodomitical relations remains apolitical, there is no public castigation or disapproval of this affair, but it becomes a cause of tension when it is transformed into a political associations with political objectives. Marlowe portrays Edwards homoerotic love and affiliation with his underling Piers Gaveston. Play opens with following lines where Edward openly expresses his homoeroticism; Sweet prince, I come. These, these thy amorous lines/ Might have enforced me to have swum from France,/ And, like Leander, gasped upon the sand,/ So thou wouldst smile and take me in thy arms.
(1. 1. 34) King Edward claims that he would give in his entire kingdom to only keep a nook or corner where he and Graveston could frolic is an ultimate manifestation of his love for Gaveston. (1. 4. 72-3). This further discloses that King is not much interested in his political obligations and responsibilities and his mind is captivated by the thoughts of homoeroticism and Graveston. Spencer Jr. is another character on whom King bestows his affections for the same reason of erotic love. Edward often calls Spencer with the titles of sweet.
For example on one occasion he says; Spencer, sweet Spencer, I adopt thee here(3. 1. 144), repeat on another occasion; Spencer, ah, sweet Spencer, thus then must we part? (4. 7. 72) and again says; Part we must, / Sweet Spencer (4. 7. 94-5). Rutkoski says in this regard; Edward calls the former Good Piers of Gaveston, my sweet favorite and indeed favors Gaveston to the extent that the king denies any distinction between him and his lover (III. iii. 8). To manifest [his] love, Edward offers Spencer Jr.
a largess of crowns and promises, daily [we] will enrich thee with our favor, / That, as the sunshine, shall reflect oer thee (III. i. 52, 50-1). Until the princes first entrance in act III, scene ian entrance that hovers near the center of the play, as if the boy represents the heart of itthere is only one, rather colorless, mention of his existence. But that love does not restrict to the private corridors of the palace but is manifested in the form of bestowing high status to Graveston. Edward makes him Lord High Chamberlain, Earl of Cornwall, King and Lord of Man.
Additionally, there are various outcrop of this political recognition of homoerotic affairs. On one side Graveston longs for greater admiration, respect and acknowledgment of his status and hankers after various measures o gather supremacy among the noble ranks. On the other hand Edward craves for an official demand for public recognition of his sodomitical love for Graveston and sanctified by the nobles and lords. To further his purpose Graveston sow the seeds of ill-wishes in the mind of Edward against nobles. For example Graveston explicitly criticize nobles during his second meeting with the King.
His major concern is that although he is close associate and darling of king, nobles does not entertain him with respect and does not recognize his political position. He says to King: Base leaden earls that glory in your birth,/Go sit at home and eat your tenants beef,/ And come not here to scoff at Gaveston,/ Whose mounting thoughts did never creep so low/ As to bestow a look on such as you. (2. 2. 74-8) Initially nobility has no objection to the sodomitical affairs of the king. Instead nobility endorses it in one way or the other.
For example Mortimer Seniors not only approves of Edwards homosexuality but also defend it by citing historical examples of royalty indulgence in homoerotic activities. He says in his speech: The mightiest kings have had their minions:/ Great Alexander loved Hephestion;/ The conquering Hercules for Hylas wept;/ And for Patroclus stern Achilles drooped. / And not kings only, but the wisest men:/ The Roman Tully loved Octavius,/ Grave Socrates, wild Alcibiades. (1. 4. 390-6) This example clearly manifest an admiration of homosexuality as great people remained indulged in this practice.
So nobility does not challenge homoeroticism of Edward on the premises of it religious attributions i. e. something related to sin. Following this premise, Mortimer Junior is of the view that Kings wanton humour grieves not me (1. 4. 401); So there is no concern about his bad habitual formation and tendencies as long as it remains private and apolitical. Ellenzweig has summed up the main cause of nobilitys anger against Graveston: Everyone elsethe anti-Gaveston faction at court, Church representatives, and Queen Isabella herselfare too driven by self-interest to find in Gavestons rise anything but threats to their own status.
And within the terms of the play, if perhaps not the historical record, the anti-Gavestons are traitorous to their king: they seek not only to thwart Edwards love, but ultimately, in the sexual-power alliance of Mortimer and Isabella, to overthrow their rightful sovereign. It is obvious that defiance of nobility and lords does not stem from Edward indulgence in homoerotic amorous affairs but the public recognition of Graveston and his placement at higher stature in the court.
Openness of this affair to public and recognition of Graveston new status is not only shocking for the nobility but is offensive to them as a minion with low moral qualities is made Chamberlain. So relationship thus is not restricted to sexual capacity only but is transformed into a political association. Marlowe has beautifully disclosed the varying nature of relationship as he discloses that private becomes public and sexual becomes political. But elemental nobility does not want to recognize him more than a sodomite.
They not only disapprove political recognition of Graveston by the king but also challenges it whenever they find a chance. For example, Lancaster asks king about permission to Graveston to sit with people f ranks in the court: why do you thus incense your peers. / That naturally would love and honour you / But for that base and obscure Gaveston? (1. 1. 98-100). So political recognition is unacceptable to lords and they start defying by a series of flare-ups and trivial squabbles.
It seems that for Gavestons, the basic objective this sodomitical relations is not gratification of erotic desires but he utilize his sexuality to promote his political aims and to gain an upward mobility. So he does not let king go away from his shackles. He skillfully employs his sexual dexterities. This tension between his spell-bound effect on Edward in order to further his political goals and nobilitys defiance of his political recognition and growing influence in the corridors of power finally lead to establishment of some troublemaking elements.
Edward II disinterest in the political affairs further causes misgovernance that ultimate culminates in the insurgency by the nobility. Such was the captivation of Graveston that after his detainment, Edward does not recognize the reality of the situation but says; Ah, Spencer, not the riches of my realm/ Can ransom [Gaveston]! Ah, he is markd to die. / I know the malice of the younger Mortimer. (3. 1. 3-5) There is another manifestation of this homoeroticism on the familial relationships. Edwards relation with his wife and son is marred by excessive love for Graveston and Spencer Jr.
Queen grumble against Edwards inattention to her and Edward Junior and warns the king to leave to France with her son: If [King Edward] be strange and not regard my words,/ My son and I will over into France,/ And to the King, my brother, there complain. (2. 4. 64-6) Rutkoski says in this regard that Prince Edwards potential to be loved by his father is eclipsed during the first several acts by the plays focus on Gaveston and Spencer Jr. Rutkoski further elaborates that Edward Jr. is only able to mark his presence due to the death of Graveston.
So inattention and lack of paternal affection was his fate till the death of Graveston. He further says that When Prince Edward physically appears on the stage in act III, scene i, Gaveston has been killed and Spencer Jr. is well on his way to replacing him, though without evoking the marked eroticism that characterized Edward and Gavestons king-minion relationship. The low status of Graveston is challenged at every instant in the play and it creates the main dramatic tension in the play. The two most frequently used phrases in the play are against Gravestons low status i. e. low and minion.
This main dramatic tension culminates in class ambitiousness that activates forces on both sides. The established nobility does not want an alien of low status to be among them and Gravestons political ambitions forces him to take every measure to get a higher place among nobility. This saga finally ends with the execution of Graveston but Edwards politics of sodomitical relationship does not end here as Marlowe places Spencer Jr. and same patterns of relationships are replicated again. Spencer Jr is subjected to the same ridicule e. g. a putrifying branch / That deads the royal vine (3.
1. 162-3). However some critics are of the view that Edward relation with Spencer Jr. was devoid of homoerotic connotations. Charlton is of the view that sexual passion only existed between Edward and Gaveston, but for the most part Edwards favourites [Spencer and Baldock] are presented, as in Raphael Holinshed, only as the objects of infatuated friendship. ( p. 29) Whatever is the nature of relationship between Edward and Spencer Jr. it must be kept in mind that this gives a new life to rebelliousness of the nobles against Edward II after the execution of Graveston.
The whole affair ends with degradation of the king and finally his execution. Above-mentioned arguments and supporting evidence clearly manifest that Gravestons homoerotic relation with Edward was of political nature as Graveston utilized it to promote his political aims. This produced defiance among the nobility that rebelled against him due to his underserved grant of higher status to Graveston. Calmness prevailed until this relation was out of the spheres of politics and corridors of powers.
d Gregory W. Bredbeck, Sodomy and Interpretation: Marlowe to Milton (Ithaca and London: Cornell Univ. Press, 1991.Edward II, ed. Charlton and R. D. Waller, The Works and Life of Christopher Marlowe. London: Methuen, 1933. Ellenzweig, Allen. The Marlowe in Edward II. (Christopher Marlowe)(Critical essay). . The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide. 15. 2 (March-April 2008): 12(3). General OneFile. Gale. Apollo Library. 3 Sept. 2008