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The Jew of Malta

Christopher Marlowe

Book Overview: 

Christopher “Kit” Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet, and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian before William Shakespeare, he is known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own untimely death.

The Jew of Malta is an original story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean. The Jew of Malta is considered to have been a major influence on William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

The play contains a prologue in which the character Machiavel, a Senecan ghost based on Niccolò Machiavelli, introduces “the tragedy of a Jew.” (summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .These devils and their damned heresy! ABIGAIL. Father, forgive me— 50 BARABAS. Nay, back, Abigail, And think upon the jewels and the gold; The board is marked thus that covers it.— [Aside to ABIGAIL in a whisper.] Away, accursed, from thy father's sight! FRIAR JACOMO. Barabas, although thou art in misbelief, And wilt not see thine own afflictions, Yet let thy daughter be no longer blind. BARABAS. Blind friar, I reck not thy persuasions,— The board is marked thus 51 that covers it— [Aside to ABIGAIL in a whisper.] For I had rather die than see her thus.— Wilt thou forsake me too in my distress, Seduced daughter?—Go, forget not.— 52 [Aside to her in a whisper.] Becomes it Jews to be so credulous?— To-morrow early I'll be at the door.— [Aside to her in a whisper.] No, come not at me; if tho. . . Read More

Community Reviews

If you haven't read Marlowe, I recommend him. He's more lurid and over the top than Shakespeare, and nowhere near as subtle - well, not subtle at all, if we're being honest - and he's not as good, but then it's a little uncool to compare anyone to Shakespeare. He is good.

Sucks to be this guy, really

A complex play of love, revenge, and murder
1 February 2014

For a long time I felt that Kit Marlowe's best play was The Tragical History of Doctor Faust, and though I had read this play previously, it had not stuck in my head in the same way that Doctor Faust did. I suspect it is because the last tim

Is Jew of Malta the real villain of this play? Perhaps it is the religious prejudice itself that is the main villain. It is not a coincidence that this plays opens with an obvious wrong being done to Barabas. If you look at it closely, there really aren't any positive characters in this play. In thi

First of all, yes, Marlowe was first. Marlowe was not LIKE Shakespeare, but he made Shakespeare possible.

And if the term "farce" is a little academic and still doesn't help the reader appreciate this play, think "sit-com." Think about a movie like this:

FIRST JEW. A fleet of warlike galleys, Barabas,

Why, is not this    

A kingly kind of trade, to purchase towns    

By treachery, and sell 'em by deceit?    

Now tell me, worldlings, underneath the sun

If greater falsehood ever has been done?

Christians, Turks and a Jew behaving very badly. Marlowe's hyperbole 450 years ago reads like today's headl

Yer yer William Shakespeare’in efsanevi oyunu "Venedik Taciri"yle benzerlik taşıyan Christopher Marlowe’un meşhur eseri "Maltalı Yahudi / The Jew of Malta", dini tercihleri yüzünden devlet tarafından günah keçisi seçilerek tüm malvarlığı elinden alınan yahudi Barabas’ın korkunç intikamını konu alıyo

Terminând cartea, am în minte apariţia sâmburelui scepticismului (de orice natură ar fi el, dar aici e vorba de credinţa religioasă). Fiind a doua piesă scrisă de Marlowe pe care o citesc -"Doctor Faustus", la fel ca romanul omonim al lui Thomas Mann ori ca "Faustul" lui Goethe, rămânând în seria ca

Pobre Barrabás, sólo quería ser rico y tener mucho dinero aglomerado, ¿qué culpa tuvo él que vengan los turcos a amenazar la Isla de Malta y él tenga que pagar los platos rotos?
Esta obra de Marlowe me sorprendió muchísimo porque dado el tema que no me pareció tan "importante" como "Dido", "La masacr

This is a profoundly subversive black comedy which shows its contempt for the practitioners of each of the three major religions, all of whom Marlowe sees as being motivated by nothing save avarice and (occasionally) lust.

Barabas the Jew of Malta--aided by his psychopathic Muslim slave Ithamore--pl

Love me little, love me long; let music
rumble,
Whilst I in thy incony lap do tumble.

I blame Kalliope for this detour. It was her lengthy survey of Kit's bio that led me here. Maybe Derek Jarman gave a deserved shove as well. Bugger. I watched Jubilee last night. It shocked me and left me slightly lis

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