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Jew of Malta


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A drama in blank verse by Marlowe, performed about 1592, not published until 1633.

The grand seignior of Turkey having demanded the tribute of Malta, the governor of Malta decides that it shall be paid by the Jews of the island. Barabas, a rich Jew who resists the edict, has all his wealth impounded and his house turned into a nunnery. In revenge he indulges in an orgy of slaughter, procuring the death of his daughter Abigail's lover among others and poisoning Abigail herself, and finally is killed in one of his own traps. The prologue to the play is spoken by ‘Machevil’, and Barabas is one of the prototypes for unscrupulous Machiavellian villains in later Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. His praise of gold and precious stones as ‘Infinite riches in a little roome’ is often quoted.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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