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The Jew of Malta

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  2,011 ratings  ·  75 reviews
The Jew of Malta is a formative and brilliant play which has come to hold an increasingly important position in the Marlowe canon. This edition is based on the only surviving text, the 1633 quarto, which has been carefully examined and is shown to be more authentic and reliable than most earlier scholars were prepared to allow. The fullest available account of the sources ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 15th 1988 by Manchester University Press (first published 1589)
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Bill  Kerwin

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--plots the destruction of both Christians and Muslims and eventually falls into a boiling cauldron he has prepared for his remaining enemies, but not before contriving half-a-dozen murders, poisoning an
Love me little, love me long; let music
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 listing. Perhaps that was simply Adam Ant. Later that night I crept upstairs and fetched this play before slipping into slumber. I awoke to a world gone white. It has snowed like mad all day. My wife and
David Sarkies
Oct 02, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love political intrigue
Recommended to David by: Saw a complete collection in a book shop
Shelves: tragedy
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 time that I read this collection of plays I had read them all on one go (that is reading the plays one after the other without reading something different in between) and because I had been so blown away
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. He was very popular in his time, and then along came Shakespeare and whammo, he's a footnote. It's not Marlowe's fault he was the guy right before The Guy.

Anyway, if you want to see how the two comp
Shawn (ThatOneEnglishGradStudent)
Imagine a version of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in which Shylock is the main character. That's sort of what you'll get with this play, which indeed was a huge influence on Shakespeare. To put it out there, this is one of those cases where reading from a post-Holocaust perspective certainly brings the anti-Semitic elements of the text to the foreground, but really none of the monotheistic religions escape Marlowe's indictment. Barabas is a deliciously evil character and the plot remains ...more
This is a play that grabs your attention immediately, but unfortunately peters out a bit at the end. The first half of the work, though lacking the sheer poetic beauty of Tamburlaine or Dr. Faustus, is exciting reading and, I would imagine, even better viewing. Few books hook me immediately like this one.

I must admit I picked it up with some trepidation. Was it a racist rant? Well, it certainly showcases every Jewish stereotype known to Elizabethan England, and maybe adds some new ones. But it i
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 masacre de París" o "Doctor Fausto", la creación del personaje de Barrabás, el judío de Malta, es muy compleja y bien lograda. Uno se da cuenta a medida que avanza la obra la crueldad e hipocresía que encie
The Jew of Malta is one of those glorious rollicking Elizabethan dramas that make modern plays with their bickering couples look merely squalid. Christopher Marlowe does not settle for a single villain or a few venal sins, he goes for massive extortion and wholesale slaughter.

The basic setup is quite simple and maps with depressing ease to modern global politics. The Turks have demanded an impossible tribute from the Island of Malta, and the Maltese government have cravenly raised the amount by
The language is bombastic, passionate and orotund. The plot is full of deceit, betrayal and revenge. It reflects English suspicions and prejudices. Anti-semitic fear and loathing are epitomized in Barabbas, the Jew of the title. The plot also reveals the ancient distrust of the English for those of Mediterranean origin. This play takes 21st century correctness and stomps that sucker flat. So how can a modern reader feel the love for this one? ( I have similar ambiguities about Richard III, too,) ...more
Nicolas Shump
This is a much more developed and mature piece of writing than Dr. Faustus. It is longer and better-written. In addition, there are numerous well-developed characters like Barabas and his daughter Abigail.
However, as you would expect, this play is ripe with anti-Semitism and Barabas is totally unredeemable and his servant is even worse.
The plot is better developed than in Faustus, but I feel the ending is a bit rushed. It still is not of the caliber of The Merchant of Venice, but it stands up
The Jew of Malta is kind of like Merchant of Venice on crack. At least in terms of how conniving, how duplicitous, how despicable a stereotype can be drawn of a Jew. But I think that I'm going to think that every Marlowe play is on crack after reading Tamburlaine. Maybe Marlowe is like a Tarantino kind of playwright, where the delight comes with all extremities being given vent at once.
I was meaning to read Marlowe's 'The Jew of Malta' for a long time now. Today, I have finally read the play. Marlowe is one of my favourite playwrights, and I believe the world owes a huge debt to this genius, including, most probably, Shakespeare the Great himself.

The Jews first arrived in Malta after the Roman Titus ransacked the Temple of Jerusalem in 70AD. One can still find ancient Jewish catacombs scattered across Malta. The 'Menorah' is a prominent feature in such sites. At first, the Jew
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in March 1999.

Christopher Marlowe's play is certainly not in tune with the spirit of the second half of the twentieth century, with its portrayal of the Jew, Barabas, as the epitome of deceit and treachery. In his introduction to this edition, Peter J. Smith quotes Barry Kyle, who directed a revival in 1987, as originally thinking that the anti-Semitism would make it unstageable. He lessened the impact of this aspect of the play by using a clever trick to mak
THE JEW OF MALTA is one of the handful of works by Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright who dabbled in political intrigue and atheist proselytizing and died in a barfight before the age of 30. As the play opens, the Ottoman Empire is threatening the Christian island of Malta, whereupon the governor expropriates the holdings of a rich Jewish trade to buy the Turks off. Barabas, this Jew of Malta, doesn't take this too kindly and hatches various plans to destroy people close to the stat ...more
Sohaib Malkawi
So it's all about a bunch of folks toying around with their RELIGIONS in hopes of getting more cash!

Some scenes were amusing, yet a lot were boring and lacked vividness, other scenes came by as absurd and improbable; it was difficult sometimes to go over a scene without keeping a dull face all through out (especially the scenes with the PRO!).

All in all, reading this is not something I would feel thrilled about any time in the future, although I have to admit that the ending was quite satisfacto
I actually read an online version of this text provided by my teacher as part of my Introduction to Drama course, so this is not the same version I'm writing about, but is the same work. In many ways, this is the predecessor to The Merchant of Venice, which is a distinction that would already make it notable, but it also has a great amount of value in its own right. While perhaps not as powerful or seemingly progressive as its counterpart, there are very good dramatic speeches, powerful characte ...more
"Thou hast committed-"
"Fornication? But that was in another country; and besides, the wench is dead." Oh Barabus, ILU.
Wow. Dark, hilarious, subversive - loved it!
Michael Young
As Niels Herold discusses in the preface of his anthology "Christianity Under Fire," Shakespeare's plays, along with other contemporary plays and playwrights at the time, formed the reaction of "an early modern culture of paranoia and terror" (2). Shakespeare's characters, and the characters of "The Jew of Malta" created by Marlowe, fictionally represent realistic religious tensions at the time of these plays publications and performances. These works address the fears of the religious and cultu ...more
Слави Ганев
Кой е Кристофър "Кит" Марлоу? Не сте го чували? Не се срамувайте. По нашите географски ширини много хора едва ли знаят за него. Всъщност... много хора и по други краища на земното кълбо, които знаят за него, не са сигурни кой точно е той.

Знаем, че е живял в Англия през Елизабетианската епоха и, че е писал пиеси и поеми също като много по-известния в днешно време Уилям Шекспир. Приживе обаче Марлоу е бил много по-популярен и поставян на сцената. Роден само два месеца преди Евънския бард (да, това
Well, the flat characters are tolerable; the complete lack of subtlety is tolerable, as is the overuse of sex and violence as a device to create tension. I’m okay with all that. It’s my first Marlowe play and I’m a little underwhelmed, but chances are the man has written better plays.

What I find totally, utterly unbearable, that’s the blatant, disgusting anti-Semitism in this play. Call it a masterpiece, call it what you will - you can't rationalise the ugly truth.
We have to respect Marlowe's legacy to us - he created the blank vearse structure that his colleague Shakespeare went on to use so well. According to some scholars, he could be considered as one of the founding father of the theatre in English, as his first play, "Dido and Aneas" was one of the very first plays staged in an English theatre. But this play is a simple two dimensionsal exercise in anti-semeticism, with Barabus (the baddie, a jew) being evil through and through, with no redeeming fe ...more
Michael Mingo
There is no land of concentrated evil quite like Marlowe's Malta. Lecherous friars, blatantly unjust rulers, duplicitous slaves, and to top it all off, Barabas. Everyone on the island is at least somewhat despicable, and what emerges is a brutal portrait of religious hypocrisy. Uncomfortable at times? Oh, undoubtedly, as when Barabas gleefully lists off all the (imaginary?) stereotypical atrocities he's committed to Ithamore. But Marlowe spreads out the unrepentant evil across his whole cast; he ...more
Kirsty Robinson
Read this for an Early Modern Identities module at university. I enjoyed the basic principle of the plot but I found the dialogue a bit hard going. Although he was presented as a horrible person I felt quite sorry for Barabus in that Marlowe has created him in a very negative stereotypical way - I felt like there was a bit too much anti-religion propaganda to make the play enjoyable. All in all everyone in this play is dis-likable but if you can look past that the story is well structured and hu ...more
"I count religion but a childish toy
And hold there is no sin but ignorance."
-- Prologue

Christopher Marlowe's theatrical career was, tragically, cut short by his death. Because of this, it's an odd legacy which he left. Of his seven plays, one is his training wheels ("Dido"), two are experiments with the form which lack dramatic structure ("Tamburlaine") and one exists only as a half-remembered script ("The Massacre at Paris"). This leaves three plays to really explain who he was, beyond the bea
The play is interesting from a historical, political, and symbolic perspective. The political interchanges, alliances and betrayals, between the three Abrahamic religions are worth note, as not much has changed on the international stage.

Of course, as the title of the play suggests, we see the centuries old "Jewish question" and proclamation of ethnic networking across state borders emerge early on in the dialogue of Barabas (who is the Jew of Malta):

"They say we are a scatter'd nation: I canno
مکان واقعه در جزیره ی مالت، و زمان، دوران نبرد تاریخی میان اسپانیا و امپراطوری عثمانی بر سر تصرف این جزیره است. نوشته اند که شکسپیر نمایش نامه ی "تاجر ونیزی" را تحت تاثیر این اثر کریستوفر مالرو نوشته است. باراباس، شخصیت اصلی نمایش نامه، به دلیل چند گانگی شخصیت پیچیده اش، تماشاگران را تحت تاثیر قرار می دهد. مساله ی اقلیت حسابگر و تاجرپیشه ی کلیمی در دوران الیزابت در انگستان، از مسایل حاد بوده. در پیش پرده ی ابتدای نمایش نامه، شخصیتی به نام "ماکیاول" بر صحنه می آید که بر مبنای شخصیت واقعی نیکولو م ...more
Fantastic Machiavellian fun. Yes, it does have a lot of the over-the-top antisemitic sentiment of the early modern period but it's just as harsh in critiquing the lecherous Catholic friars, the greedy extorting governor etc. It's a very ironic play teeming with hypocrites and exaggerated stereotypes, the result is quite funny. I've only read one other of Marlowe's plays - Tamburlaine, and, while that one was enjoyable, this one had much wittier dialogue.
This text was required reading for my Studies in Renaissance Literature Course at the University of Utah.

Marlowe's exploration of the "other" - the reprobate - is fascinating. "The Jew of Malta" offers a wild ride of murderous schemes, religious tension and subversion. The Jew is dangerous because he both stands out too much and assimilates too well, he is poison and medicine.

Overall - a drama full of insights into the effect of a humanist education in a Calvinist society.
Zachary Guthrie
This play best accounts Christopher Marlowe's feelings and thoughts toward religion as something to be mocked and torn. His play on religious facets and human depravity give depth to the criticism of sinful people. The cunning and coniving of Barabas and other characters in the play draw the reader into the conflict and arouse pity for those that pay with their life. This play is easier to read than Shakespeare but not as good. Nonetheless, I recommend the Jew of Malta as a play anybody could re ...more
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Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (baptised 26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593 aged 29) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own mysterious and untimely death.

The author's Wikipedia page.
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“MACHEVILL: I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.”
“I count religion but a childish toy
And hold there is no sin but ignorance.”
More quotes…