Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Eric Tribunella

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Mark Dahlquist

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Jameela Lares

Committee Member 3 Department



Christopher Marlowe’s drama Edward II has long been known for its representation of a close male, arguably homosexual, friendship between King Edward II and his favorite, the French Piers Gaveston, as well as their union’s negative effects on the court. Indeed much criticism exists on the common belief that the characters’ relationship is problematic in early modern England both because the two characters are male and because there is an obvious class divide. However, critics have seemed to overlook Gaveston’s being French, even in light of the massive immigration to England during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. This paper examines Marlowe’s play as a xenophobic portrayal of a Frenchman and as a shrewdly reactionary push against immigrants from Catholic nations. To achieve this goal, Marlowe stages a play whose dealings are as political as they are sexual. Starting with Gaveston’s undue sense of power in the first act and ending with the king’s historically gruesome death-by-poker scene, Edward II leaves its audience aware that a life dedicated to a foreigner ultimately ends in death from a foreigner.