Thursday, November 12, 2009

Research Blog #2 - Jew of Malta

The Jew of Malta is a play written by Christopher Marlowe in the year (probably) 1589. It is considered a very strong influence for Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. It presents the Jew main character, Barabas, as a corrupt, money loving, villain. Early Modern Europeans had very strong prejudices against the Jewish people (even though there weren't any in England during the time thanks to the Edict of 1290). They perceived the Jew as being usurers and obsessed moneylenders in the economic world, and Christ-killers in the religious world. This play supports all kinds of negative ideas about Jews that were present in the time. There seem to be no true redeeming qualities about Barabas - he poisons an entire convent for Pete's sake! And there is not a positive alternative for him in the end. People in England at this time, ate stuff like this up. They loved it. What a reflection of a culture!

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