MARLOWE, CHRISTOPHER° (1564–1593), English playwright. The Jew of Malta (c. 1590) portrays the monstrous Jew, Barabas; T.S. Eliot described the play as a savage farce. Indeed it has elements of melodrama and exaggeration which suggest that Marlowe was not completely serious in his portrayal of the Jew. Barabas is a rich merchant whose wealth is expropriated and whose house is turned into a nunnery by order of the governor of Malta. In revenge, Barabas indulges in an orgy of slaughter, poisoning his daughter Abigail, her lover, and many others. Malta being besieged by the Turks, Barabas enters upon a career of political intrigue, first betraying the island to the enemy and then plotting the destruction of the Turkish commander. But Barabas is himself betrayed and perishes in a boiling cauldron. The story represents a mingling of traditional antisemitism (in the Middle Ages the Jews were often charged with poisoning the wells) with the late 16th-century taste for the "political thriller." Barabas, a disciple of Machiavelli, practices political stratagems with a view to gaining power in the state. From this point of view his Jewishness is no more than incidental, the main interest being focused on   his "Italian" villainy. Barabas' conspiracy with the Turks may have been suggested by the career of joseph nasi . The Jew of Malta was almost certainly in Shakespeare's mind when he wrote The Merchant of Venice some years later. Like Shakespeare's Jew, Barabas has a beautiful daughter who becomes a Christian, and a comic servant, Ithamore, who directs the audience's laughter against the Jew. This latter feature may be a relic of the medieval religious drama in which the Devil was frequently accompanied by a comic figure, the Vice. In spite of his negative portrayal of the Jew, Marlowe undoubtedly projected into the portrait some of his own restlessness as well as his notorious dislike of the Establishment. But Marlowe's work differs markedly from Shakespeare's depiction of Shylock in being two-dimensional, in contrast to Shakespeare's ambiguous and three-dimensional portrayal of his Jewish character. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.L. Cardozo, Contemporary Jew in the Elizabethan Drama (1925); M.J. Landa, Jew in Drama (1926), index; H. Michelson, Jew in Early English Literature (1926), 70ff.; T.S. Eliot, Selected Essays (1932), 118–25; H. Sinsheimer, Shylock (1947), 51–54; H. Levin, Overreacher: a Study of Christopher Marlowe (1954), index; H. Fisch, Dual Image (1959), 25–29. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: ODNB online. (Harold Harel Fisch)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Marlowe, Christopher — (baptized Feb. 26, 1564, Canterbury, Kent, Eng. died May 30, 1593, Deptford, near London) British poet and playwright. The son of a Canterbury shoemaker, he earned a degree from Cambridge University. From 1587 he wrote plays for London theatres,… …   Universalium

  • MARLOWE, Christopher — (1564 1593) The brightest star among the Elizabethan dramatists before William Shake­speare,* Christopher Marlowe was also a gifted lyric poet, an adventurer, and a secret agent whose services were appreciated by the queen herself. His quick… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Marlowe, Christopher — (1564 1593)    The son of a shoemaker, of Canterbury, Kent, he graduated B.A. in 1583 84 and M.A. in 1587 from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He went to London in 1587, where he became an actor and dramatist for the Lord Admiral s Company. As …   British and Irish poets

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  • Marlowe, Christopher — (1564 1593)    English playwright and poet, also known as a translator of Latin poetry (Ovid and Lucan) into English. Educated at the King s School in Canterbury and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he began his career as a dramatist with… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Marlowe, Christopher — (bautizado 26 feb. 1564, Canterbury, Kent, Inglaterra–30 may. 1593, Deptford, cerca de Londres). Dramaturgo y poeta británico. Hijo de un zapatero de Canterbury, logró graduarse en la Universidad de Cambridge. En 1587 comenzó a escribir obras… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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