Edward II


Christopher Marlowe

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Edward II: Act 4, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Kent is preparing to join Isabella in France, where he will back up the Queen's claims about Edward's behavior. He appears somewhat conflicted about betraying his brother, asking “nature” to “yield to [his] country's cause.” Nevertheless, he remains where he is, waiting for the arrival of Mortimer Junior, who has devised a plan to escape his captors. Mortimer duly appears, though in disguise. When he has confirmed that it is Kent he is speaking to, he explains that he drugged his guards and is now ready to accompany Kent to France.
Kent's misgivings about rebelling against his brother attest to the importance of blood relations in medieval society. According to Kent, turning on one's family is a disruption in the natural order of things. This makes sense in the context of a society where social status (and therefore social stability) depend on lineage. Nevertheless, Kent's decision to place duty to country over duty to family indicates that ideas had begun to shift by the time Marlowe was writing: although personal and familial loyalty still loomed large, a concept of loyalty to an abstract nation-state was also beginning to develop. That Kent’s sympathies ultimately shift back attests to how this mix of viewpoints created complexity and confusion.
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