The Jew of Malta

The Jew of Malta

by Christopher Marlowe

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'Tell me worldlings, underneath the sun, If greater falsehood ever has been done'

The Jew of Malta, written around 1590, can present a
challenge for modern audiences. Hugely popular in its day, the play
swings wildly and rapidly in genre, from pointed satire, to bloody
revenge tragedy, to melodrmatic intrigue, to dark farce and grotesque
comedy. Although set in the Mediterranean island of Malta, the play
evokes contemporary Elizabethan social tensions, especially the highly
charged issue of London's much-resented community of resident merchant
foreigners. Barabas, the enormously wealthy Jew of the play's title,
appears initially victimized by Malta's Christian Governor, who quotes
scripture to support the demand that Jews cede their wealth to pay
Malta's tribute to the Turks. When he protests, Barabas is deprived of
his wealth, his means of livelihood, and his house, which is converted
to a nunnery. In response to this hypocritical extortion, Barabas
launches a horrific (and sometimes hilarious) course of violence that
goes well beyond revenge, using murderous tactics that include
everything from deadly soup to poisoned flowers. The play's sometimes
complex treatment of anti-Semitism and its relationship to
Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice remain matters of continuing scholarly reflection.

This student edition contains a lengthy Introduction with background
on the author, date and sources, theme, critical interpretation and
stage history, as well as a fully annotated version of the playtext in
modern spelling.

James R. Siemon is Professor of English at Boston University.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788827565254
Publisher: Studium Legis
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Sold by: StreetLib SRL
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 578 KB

About the Author

The editor, James R Siemon is Professor of English Literature at Boston University.
Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) was an English playwright and poet, who through his establishment of blank verse as a medium for drama did much to free the Elizabethan theatre from the constraints of the medieval and Tudor dramatic tradition. His first play Tamburlaine the Great, was performed that same year, probably by the Admiral's Men with Edward Alleyn in the lead. With its swaggering power-hungry title character and gorgeous verse the play proved to be enormously popular; Marlowe quickly wrote a second part, which may have been produced later that year. Marlowe's most famous play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, based on the medieval German legend of the scholar who sold his soul to the devil, was probably written and produced by 1590, although it was not published until 1604. Historically the play is important for utilizing the soliloquy as an aid to character analysis and development. The Jew of Malta (c. 1590) has another unscrupulous aspiring character at its centre in the Machiavellian Barabas. Edward II (c. 1592), which may have influenced Shakespeare's Richard II, was highly innovatory in its treatment of a historical character and formed an important break with the more simplistic chronicle plays that had preceded it. Marlowe also wrote two lesser plays, Dido, Queen of Carthage (date unknown) and The Massacre at Paris (1593), based on contemporary events in France. Marlowe was killed in a London tavern in May 1593. Although Marlowe's writing career lasted for only six years, his four major plays make him easily the most important predecessor of Shakespeare.
James R. Siemon is a professor of literature at Boston University, USA.

Table of Contents

Christopher Marlowe: A Brief Chronology of His Life and Times
A Note on the Text

The Jew of Malta

Appendix A: Jewishness in Marlowe’s England

  1. From John Foxe, Acts and Monuments (1610)
    1. [The destruction of the Jews in 73 CE]
    2. [Hugh of Lincoln and other stories]
  2. From Raphael Holinshed, The Third Volume of Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587)
    1. [London Jews executed for counterfeiting and debasing coins in 1278]
    2. [The expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290]
  3. From Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller (1594)
  4. From Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Prioress’s Tale,” The Canterbury Tales (1602)
  5. From “An homily for Good Friday, concerning the death and passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ,” in The Second Tome of Homilies (1563)
  6. From Robert Wilson, The Three Ladies of London (1584)
    1. [Mercadorus is confronted by Gerontus, to whom he owes money]
    2. [Arrested, Mercadorus is brought before the Judge of Turkey]
  7. From Sir Thomas Browne, “Of the Jews,” Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646)

Appendix B: Rhodes, Malta, and European-Ottoman Relations

  1. From Nicholas Nicholay, The Navigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkey by Nicholas Nicholay (1585)
  2. From Richard Knolles, The General History of the Turks (1603)
    1. [Preparation for the siege of Malta begins]
    2. [The Turks take Saint Elmo]
    3. [The Turkish forces leave Malta]
  3. From A Form to be used in Common prayer … to excite and stir all godly people to pray unto God for the preservation of those Christians and their Countries that are now invaded by the Turk in Hungary or elsewhere (1566)
  4. From Richard Hakluyt, The Principle Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation (1589)
    1. [“The letters sent from the Imperial Musulmanlike highness of Sultan Murad Khan to the sacred regal Majesty of Elizabeth Queen of England”]
    2. [“The answer of her Majesty to the aforesaid letters of the Great Turk”]

Appendix C: Machiavellianism

  1. From Innocent Gentillet, A Discourse Upon the Means of Well Governing and Maintaining in Good Peace a Kingdom, or Other Principality … Against Nicholas Machiavel the Florentine (1602)
    1. [From “A Preface to the first Part”]
    2. [From Gentillet’s refutation of Machiavelli’s first maxim of religion]
    3. [From Gentillet’s refutation of Machiavelli’s twentyfirst maxim of policy]
    4. [The maxims]
  2. From Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1640)
    1. [Edward Dacres’s “Epistle to the Reader”]
    2. [Chapter XV, “Of those things in respect whereof men, and especially princes, are praised or dispraised”]
    3. [From Chapter XVIII, “In what manner princes ought to keep their words”]
    4. [Chapter XXV, “How great power Fortune hath in human affairs, and what means there is to resist it”]

Appendix D: Marlowe’s Reputation

  1. From Robert Greene, Perimedes the Blacksmith (1588) and A Groatsworth of Wit (1592)
    1. [From Perimedes the Blacksmith]
    2. [From A Groatsworth of Wit]
  2. Thomas Kyd’s letters to Sir John Puckering about Marlowe
  3. Richard Baines, “A note containing the opinion of Christopher Marlowe concerning his damnable Judgment of religion and scorn of God’s word”
  4. From Thomas Beard, The Theatre of God’s Judgements (1597)

Works Cited and Further Reading

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The Jew of Malta 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That sounds like a good idea too. What if each res or handful of results was a different time period?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ww2 based
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay. So where should we base it? Or should it be all countries that the rpers characters are from?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago