Christopher Marlowe: The Jew of Malta

(1450 words)
  • Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University)

The Jew of Malta shares with the better-known Doctor Faustus clear uneasiness about conventional forms of religion and sharp-eyed observation of the hypocrisies which can be committed in its name. On the small Mediterranean island of Malta, the Turks attack the Catholic Knights of St John, and Jews suffer and are demonised as a result. The events are based partly on the historical siege of the island in 1565, but Marlowe has departed from fact in a number of instances, most notably in allowing the Turks, however temporarily, to triumph, and in giving a central role to the Jew Barabas, a character whom Marlowe has invented (though the name is obviously derived from the thief whose life the Jews asked Pilate to spare in …

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Hopkins, Lisa. "The Jew of Malta". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001
[, accessed 01 July 2015.]

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