To be able to access the true essence of the introductory scene and figure out its significance, its imperative to have proper understanding of what meaning the exposition in its description has in its holds.
An exposition in a play is the means used by the playwright as a tool to provide certain background details concerning the characters’ histories, setting and theme, which serves the purpose of aiding the reader towards having a proper comprehension of the play by placing before him the summarized events of the play and thus giving him chances to anticipate developments and turns in the drama in the read further ahead which can either have the consequential results of drawing in the reader’s interest by making it easier for him to feel reasons to get attached to the play or simply drive off far even the little initial interest he started off with.
Marlowe in Edward II attempts to make quite the adept use of its first scene which serves the efficient use as an expository scene with all that it has to give out to add up to the reader’s knowledge to help in his better understanding of future events. His exposition scene (constituting of Scene I of Act I) starts off giving the impression of an abrupt start with Piers Gaveston reading out the letter from the King to whose response he has returned back to London from his Exile in France. There surfaces a need of possession of knowledge over the historical records pertaining to King Edward I, Edward II-his son and the entity identified as Gaveston for discovery of reasons to have led to such a situation encountered in the opening scene and complete understanding of it.
This requirement sees its eventual fulfillment over the course of the scene where it gets revealed that the reason for Gaveston’s spoken of exile to France had been the King- Edward I’s concerns over his son’s playmate- Gaveston being too much of a pernicious influence on young Edward, which drove him to decide on the former’s exile in his attempt of ensuring the best for his son. But the situation of his exile soon saw a change in his favor with King Edward I’s demise which opened up opportunities for Edward I to take up the liberties in using it in his advantage to recall Gaveston back from his exile. This scene also gives away in its discourse the idea of closely shared friendship to exist between the Kind and Gaveston which happens to occupy ts place as the dominant theme of the play.
This friendship is of exceptional terms as it makes the King feel nothing about displeasing anyone if its for Gaveston’s sake. Awareness of such existing conditions hence leads up to being the root to the conflict between the King and the Barons and contributes overwhelmingly towards aggravating it to worsen. Gaveston too appears to hold strong feelings of attachments towards the king no less, where his speech in the opening scene bears enough proof of his feelings towards the King in his expression of the immense pleasure felt by him upon his return to the City where lives the man he speaks of being greatly devoted to.
The force of the ecstatic raptures felt by the King upon their meet drives him to the extent of losing sight of all sense of measure and going lyrical in his speaking to Gaveston while carrying on about with conferring upon him several titles one after the other which even leaves the onlooker the Earl of Kent with no other words of remark to voice out but “the least of these may well suffice/ for one of greater birth than Gaveston” Such patterns of behavior result in garnering of the conjecture of the King and Gaveston to have had homosexual relationship to share between them which seems to have much substance in it as a possible true hypothesis given the facts. The opening scene however doesn’t miss out of introducing the real substance of the play which lies in the conflict between King Edward II and the barons which contains to it a historical basis. The records of history contain it as the Barons having felt reasons to stand in the Kings opposition because of them finding the King too much unacceptably under his favorite, namely Gaveston’s influence.
This opposition of the baron’s sees its explicit portrayal in the very opening scene of the play by Marlowe, where the barons are found to be in feud with the King with their opposition to Gaveston, in his return back from his exile in compliance to the king’s wishes of having him back to his company. By the understanding of prevailing atmosphere around circumstances, we are led to garner that there’s about to stir up a violent upheaval hanging as a sense of premonition while the barons are far from growing out of their defiant mood n the King still being obstinate in his determination of having his way with his wishes. While we are given enough to draw out the conclusion of the heated debate between the King and the Barons to hold to it dramatic quality, the situation in which the Bishop incurs upon himself humiliation inflicted upon him by the King and Gaveston’s insults towards him unfurls as more dramatic.
We find the King and Gaveston going too far in crossing the lines with their insult of the bishop where even the Earl of Kent’s intervention in the bishop’s behalf wasn’t enough to hold them back in restraint. The King divests the bishop of his belongings and his office transfers the same to Gaveston before going to the lengths of sending the Bishop off to the Tower of London to be kept imprisoned, fearing absolutely no threats of judgment over his outrageous course of actions. The opening scene contributes a lot towards our introduction to the various characters who are to drive the play forward and effect its outcome with every take of their step.
The King becomes perceptible as holding feelings of excessive attachments towards Gaveston which finds explicit reflections in his treatment of him ( where he shows no indications of fear to the inevitable result of having opposition against him that would cost him his stable authority’s assurance ) . He evinces no hints of weakness as far as it concerns his authority as a King and stands up to the baron’s opposition fearlessly and with grim determination. The baron’s on the other hand seem not to hold any restraint in expressing their opposition against the King either which leads us to draw up the conclusion of there being felt a sense of coming war between the King and the barons in the very opening scene.
Gaveston’s soliloquy contains to it something about the King’s character as well, in which he states of the King being fond of music and poetry and thus helps in the development of theories about there being present an aesthetic and sensuous side to the King’s character. This soliloquy also plays a part in forming the base of the theory about existence of a homosexual relationship between the King and Gaveston. Introduction of Gaveston’s character makes it clear about him having selfish motives in his friendship with the King , besides harbouring for him real affections. His speech speaks of him thinking of various devices with whose employment he hopes to gratify the Kings tastes in order to acquire a secured hold over him.
Thus Gaveston comes off looking as sheltering the ambitious wishes of becoming the power behind the throne. Thus the opening scene of Edward II and serves as an expository device for the playwright who wishes to explain the situation of the play through dialogues n order to make the characters and the circumstances prevailing around them more easier to reach the reader’s understanding and help in the involvement of the reader’s interest to move further ahead into the play to walk through the road of more discoveries of developments and turn of events and ultimately contributes towards the forward momentum of moving the play along in its story.