Bill Kerwin's Reviews > The Jew of Malta

The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe
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's review
May 22, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: 16th-17th-c-brit, tudor-drama
Read in October, 2009


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 entire community of nuns, and blowing up a Turkish occupying army quartered in a confiscated monastery.

Compared to Barabas and the other charming denizens of his world, Machiavelli--who delivers the play's prologue--is probably the most sympathetic character. "The Jew" is not to everyone's taste, but it is filled with great blank verse, great theatre, and great fun.
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03/28/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope I soon want to read another play by Marlowe.. so far only Faust... Your review makes me think of this one.


Bill  Kerwin The black humor makes it a favorite of mine. But the egoistic majesty of Tamerlane and the restrained portrayal of the fall of an imprudent homosexual king in Edward II are interesting too.


message 3: by Kalliope (last edited Feb 05, 2015 03:35AM) (new)

Kalliope Bill wrote: "The black humor makes it a favorite of mine. But the egoistic majesty of Tamerlane and the restrained portrayal of the fall of an imprudent homosexual king in Edward II are interesting too."

I have a volume with several of his plays, so will proceed with one in that volume...

Thank you.


David Sarkies This sounds like it would make an awesome movie.


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