Relation Between Jew of Malta and Merchant of Venice

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The two novels, Christopher Marlowe’s ‘The Jew of Malta’ and William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’, the main characters are Jews, a characteristic that makes the comparison of the books easier. However, the way the characters are presented has made the two stories have deep and active anti-Semitic notions and messages. Right from the beginning of the play, we can see some clear negative stereotypes towards Jews. Barabbas is undoubtedly portrayed as a man who loves money to an extent that he seems addicted to them. In the opening, we see a merchant, counting his money with passion, and later on complaining about not having made enough by his recent business activities. Marlowe straightly defines his whole character and attitude by this portrayal, showing us that Barabbas is nothing more than a greedy Jew. As the story progresses and the plot unfolds, the character of Barabbas also unfolds, showing us how he doesn’t even hesitate doing unethical and heartless things just so that he can protect himself from losing money. When his wealth is taken away, after he refuses to give half of it like the other Jews did, he unleashes his ruthless effort to regain his wealth. He doesn’t hesitate using his daughter to retrieve the gold and jewels he has hidden in his house, and it is meaningful to see how he reacts after Abigail throws him the bags of gold out of the window and he embraces them while ignoring his own daughter. Although this is not the only example of how he puts money over more important things, the fact that he seems to place money above Abigail, his own daughter, shows his general attitude. But of course it doesn’t stop there, as apart from his avaricious self, he has to quench his thirst for revenge and execute his plan for retaliation. His plan consists mainly of taking revenge from the man who took away the most precious thing he has, his wealth.

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