The Jew of Malta


By Christopher Marlowe

cover image of The Jew of Malta

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Being one of Christopher Marlowe's most celebrated plays, The Jew of Malta tells the story of the eponymous Barabas, a wealthy merchant who, as explained in the prologue, has amassed a great fortune through following Machiavellian teachings. His troubles start when he is informed that the fleet containing almost all of his wealth has docked in Malta and that, like all other Jewish merchants, he must offer half of his estate to the governor who must, in turn, pay tribute to the Ottoman Empire. Barabas expresses his protest and refusal to pay, which pushes the governor of Malta to decide to confiscate all his properties. The remaining part of the play shows the plots made by the Jew to take revenge and regain his lost belongings. He makes use of the captivating beauty of his daughter, Abigail, to lure the governor's son as long as his best friend and to turn them against each other. This leads to a bloody duel between the two young men in which they both die. After pretending to convert to Christianity as part of her father's plot, Abigail eventually decides to seriously become a nun. Helped by his slave, Barabas poisons all the nuns in the building in revenge. Escaping from punishment, he collaborates with the Turkish army which decides to sack Malta and is honored for that. By the end of the play, Barabas turns against the Turks and helps the Maltese regain control of the island. Yet, the new rulers of the land eventually decide to kill him for all the troubles he has caused.

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The Jew of Malta