Edward is an aggressive, hedonistic man who gets into trouble with his father in the first scene for challenging one of his childhood friends, Robert Bruce, to a sword fight outside his father’s tent, rather than attending to the business at hand (of stripping local lords of their titles, or allowing them to keep them, depending on their family name and treasonous behaviors). His father believes him weak, because all he does is pursue a life of pleasure and show a lack of wisdom and rational thinking. It’s true that whenever Edward attempts to please him, he overdoes it with aggression, abandoning diplomacy and using brutality instead. This results in the Scots turning against him. For example, he takes Robert Bruce’s wife and daughter into custody, but then kills Robert’s brother in a cruel fashion (hanging him and gutting him) right in front of them, because he won’t betray his brother – without finding out if he was telling the truth or not. He simply executes him on the spot. Though much of his motivation is to earn approval from his father, and his constant berating and cruelties cut deep, Edward reacts assertively by pointing out the ways they are not alike; he thinks his father is too merciful to his enemies and traitors, and so “I am the stronger of us,” and sets out to prove it. He blames others for his own problems at times; instead of accepting his culpability in angering Robert enough to use underhanded tactics against them (because of his brother’s murder), Edward blames one of his captains for not capturing him. He is also capable of making emotional decisions, and drawing moral lines; he doesn’t touch Elizabeth or allow any of his men to hurt her or Robert’s innocent child. He has the little girl sent away to a nunnery and asks Elizabeth to annul her marriage; when she does not, he has her put in a cage and hung off the castle wall as punishment, but later offers her in a prisoner exchange to Robert after the war. He shows no long term thinking, and no respect for his father’s final wishes (for his bones to be boiled and carried into battle with them; he has him buried where he fell).

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Edward wants to be free of his father’s influence and have fun, not attend to the boring and serious tedium of being a king. He would rather eat, laugh, and joke with his friends than strip them of their swords, but his father’s constant disapproval makes him lean hard into his 8 wing in an attempt to prove himself stronger than those who have come before him. He ruthlessly deals with his enemies and allows them to take on underhanded tactics in chasing after Bruce (ignoring the rules of combat, making prisoners of their women and children, etc). But he falters on the battlefield, when it becomes clear that he is alone and surrounded by his enemies; he begs for his life, cries, and vomits out of sheer fear, making such a pathetic, fearful display that Robert allows him to escape unharmed rather than killing him on the spot.