Short summary - The Jew of Malta - Christopher Marlowe

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Jew of Malta
Christopher Marlowe

In the prologue, Machiavelli says that everyone considers him dead, but his soul flew over the Alps and he arrived in Britain with friends. He considers religion to be a toy and claims that there is no sin, but there is only stupidity, that power is affirmed only by force, and the law, like the Dragon, is strong only with blood. Machiavelli came to play the tragedy of a Jew who became rich by living according to his principles, and asks the audience to evaluate his merits and not to judge too harshly.

Barabbas, a Maltese Jew, sits in his office in front of a pile of gold and awaits the arrival of ships carrying goods. He thinks aloud that everyone hates him for his luck, but honors his wealth: «So let it be better / Everyone hates a rich Jew, / What a miserable poor Jew!» He sees in Christians only anger, lies and pride, which they do not fit in with their teachings, and those Christians in whom there is a conscience live in poverty. He rejoices that Jews have seized more wealth than Christians. Having learned that the Turkish fleet has approached the coast of Malta, Barabbas is not worried: neither peace nor war touches him, only his own life, his daughter's life and acquired good are important to him. Malta has long been paying tribute to the Turks, and Barabbas suggests that the Turks increased it so much that the Maltese have nothing to pay, so the Turks are going to take over the city.


The son of the Turkish sultan Kalimat and the Pasha demand payment of tribute for ten years. The Governor of Malta Farnese does not know where to get so much money, and consults with close people. They ask for a reprieve to collect money from all the inhabitants of Malta. Kalimat gives them a month of grace. Farnese decides to collect tribute from the Jews: everyone should give half of his property; he who refuses will be baptized immediately, and he who refuses to give half of his property and be baptized will lose all his good.

Three Jews say they will willingly give up half of their property, Barabbas is indignant at their humility. He is ready to give half of his wealth, but only if the decree applies to all residents of Malta, and not to Jews alone. In punishment for the obstinacy of Barabbas, Farnese orders to take all his good. Barabbas calls Christians robbers and says that he is forced to steal in order to return the loot. The knights suggest that the governor give the house of Barabbas to a convent, and Farnese agrees. Barabbas accuses them of cruelty and says that they want to take his life from him. Farnese objects: «Oh no, Barabbas, blood stained hands / We do not want. Faith forbids us. » Barabbas curses the vile Christians who have treated him so inhumanly. Other Jews remind him of Job, but the wealth that Job has lost cannot be compared to what did Barabbas lose. Left alone, Barabbas laughs at gullible fools: he is a prudent man and reliably hid his treasures. Barabbas reassures his daughter Abigail, offended by the injustice of the Christian authorities. He keeps his riches in a hiding place, and since the house was taken as a monaster and he and Avigey are not allowed to go there anymore, he tells his daughter to ask for a monastery, and at night to move the floorboards and get gold and precious stones. Abigail pretends to have a falling out with her father and wants to get a haircut as a nun. The monks Giacomo and Bernardine ask the abbess to take Abigail to the monastery, and the abbess takes her to the house. Barabbas pretends to curse a daughter who has converted to Christianity. The nobleman Matthias, in love with Abigail, grieves when he learns that Abigail went to the monastery. Son of Farnese Lodoviko, heard about the beauty of Abigail, wants to see her. The night is coming. Barabbas does not sleep, waiting for news from Abigail, Finally she appears. She managed to find a cache, and she throws down the bags of treasure. Barabbas carries them away.


Spain's Vice Admiral Martin del Bosco arrives in Malta. He brought the captured Turks, Greeks and Moors and is going to sell them in Malta. Farnese does not agree: the Maltese are allied with the Turks. But Spain has rights to Malta and can help the Maltese get rid of Turkish rule. Farnese is ready to rebel against the Turks, if the Spaniards support him, and decides not to pay tribute to the Turks. He permits Martin del Bosco to sell slaves.

Lodoviko meets Barabbas and talks to him about the diamond, referring to Abigail. Barabbas aloud promises to give him the diamond, but he himself wants to take revenge on the governor and destroy Lodoviko. Matias asks Barabbas what he spoke with Lodoviko. Barabbas reassures Matthias: about diamond, not about Abigail. Barabbas buys a slave for himself - Itamora - and asks him about his past life. Itamor tells how many evil deeds he committed. Barabbas rejoices when he finds a like-minded person in him: «... we are both scoundrels, / Circumcised and we curse the Christians.» Barabbas brings Lodoviko to him, asking Abigail to be more pleasant with him. Abigail loves Matthias, but Barabbas explains to her that he is not going to bond her and forcibly marry Lodoviko, just for his plans it is necessary that she be affectionate with him. He tells Matthias that Farnese planned to marry Lodovico to Avigey. Boys formerly friends quarrel. Abigail wants to reconcile them, but Barabbas sends two false challenges to the duel: one is Lodovico on behalf of Matias, the other is on Matthias on behalf of Lodovico. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. Abigail wants to reconcile them, but Barabbas sends two false challenges to the duel: one to Lodoviko on behalf of Matias, the other to Matthias on behalf of Lodoviko. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. Abigail wants to reconcile them, but Barabbas sends two false challenges to the duel: one to Lodoviko on behalf of Matias, the other to Matthias on behalf of Lodoviko. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. but Barabbas sends two false challenges to the duel: one to Lodoviko on behalf of Mathias, the other to Matthias on behalf of Lodoviko. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. but Barabbas sends two false challenges to the duel: one to Lodoviko on behalf of Mathias, the other to Matthias on behalf of Lodoviko. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. the other is Matthias on behalf of Lodovico. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. the other is Matthias on behalf of Lodovico. During the fight, the young men kill each other. Matthias' mother and Lodovico's father, Governor Farnese, vow to take revenge on the one who quarreled them. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. Itamor tells Abigail about the tricks of her father. Abigail, having learned how cruel the father was to her lover, converted to Christianity - this time sincerely - and again went to the monastery. Upon learning of this, Barabbas is afraid that his daughter will give him away, and decides to poison her. He puts poison in a pot of rice stew and sends it to the nuns as a gift. No one can be trusted, not even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door. even his own daughter, only Itamor is faithful to him, so Barabbas promises to make him his heir. Itamor takes the pot to the monastery and puts it at the secret door.

A month of delay has passed, and the Turkish ambassador arrives in Malta for a tribute. Farnese refuses to pay, and the ambassador threatens that the Turkish guns will turn Malta into a desert. Farnese calls on the Maltese to load their guns and prepare for battle. The monks Giacomo and Bernardin talk about the fact that the nuns suffered an unknown illness and they were at death. Before his death, Abigail confesses to Bernardin about the machinations of Barabbas, but asks him to keep the secret. As soon as she gives up her spirit, the monk hurries to accuse Barabbas of villainy. Barabbas pretends to repent, says that he wants to be baptized, and promises to give all his wealth to the monastery. Bernardine and Giacomo argue over whose monastic order is better, and everyone wants to pull Barabbas to his side. As a result, the monks quarrel, insult each other and fight, In the end, Bernardin leaves with Itamor, and Barabbas stays with Giacomo. At night, Barabbas and Itamor strangle Bernardine, then they lean his corpse against the wall. When Giacomo arrives, he, thinking that Bernardin is standing against the wall so as not to let him into the house, hits him with a stick. The corpse falls, and Giacomo sees that Bernardine is dead. Itamor and Barabbas accuse Giacomo of killing Bernardin. They say that they should not be baptized, since Christian monks kill each other.

Courtesan Bellamira wants to take possession of the wealth of Barabbas. To do this, she decides to seduce Itamor and writes him a love letter. Itamor falls in love with Bellamira and is ready for anything for her. He writes a letter to Barabbas, demanding from him three hundred crowns and threatening that otherwise he confesses to all crimes. Bellamira’s servant goes for money, but brings only ten crowns. Itamor furiously writes a new message to Barabbas, where it already requires five hundred crowns. Barabbas is outraged by Itamore's disrespect and decides to avenge betrayal. Barabbas gives the money, but he changes his clothes so that they will not recognize him, and he follows Bellamira’s servant. Itamore is drinking with Bellamira and her servant. He tells them how he and Barabbas arranged the fight between Matthias and Lodoviko. They are approached by a French lute player Varavva in a wide-brimmed hat. Bellamira likes how the flowers smell on the hat of Barabbas, and he removes the bouquet from the hat and presents it to her. But the flowers are poisoned - now Bellamira, and her servant, and Itamora will face death.


Farnese and the knights are preparing to defend the city from the Turks. Bellamira comes to them and tells that Barabbas is to blame for the death of Matias and Lodoviko and he poisoned his daughter and nuns. The Guard leads Barabbas and Itamora. Itamor testifies against Barabbas. They are being taken to prison. Then the chief of the guard returns and announces the death of the courtesan and her servant, as well as Barabbas and Itamor. The guard carries Barabbas as dead and throws him outside the city wall. When everyone leaves, he wakes up: he did not die, he just drank a magic drink - an infusion of poppy seeds with mandrake - and fell asleep. Kadimat with the army at the walls of Malta. Barabbas shows the Turks the entrance to the city and is ready to serve the Turkish Sultan. Kalimat promises to appoint him Governor of Malta. Kalimat takes Farnese and the knights captive and puts them at the disposal of the new governor - Barabbas, who sends them all to prison. He calls to Farnese and asks what reward awaits him if he, taking the Turks by surprise, returns Malta to freedom and is merciful to the Christians. Farnese promises Varavva a generous reward and the post of governor. Barabbas frees Farnese, and he goes to collect money to bring them to Barabbas in the evening. Barabbas is going to invite Kalimat to a feast and kill him there. Farnese agrees with the Knights and Martin del Bosco that, upon hearing the shot, they will rush to his aid - only in this way will they all be able to escape from slavery. When Farnese brings him the collected one hundred thousand, Barabbas says that in the monastery, where the Turkish troops will come, there are hidden guns and barrels of gunpowder that will explode, bringing down a hail of stones on the heads of the Turks. As for Kalimat with his retinue, when they ascend to the gallery, Farnese will cut the rope and the gallery floor will collapse, and everyone who will be there at this time will fall into the cellars. When Kalimat comes to the feast, Barabbas invites him upstairs to the gallery, but before Kalimat rises there, a shot is fired and Farnese cuts the rope - Barabbas falls into the cauldron that is in the underground. Farnese shows Kalimat what a trap was set up for him. Before his death, Barabbas admits that he wanted to kill everyone; both Christians and Gentiles. Barabbas is not sorry for anyone, and he perishes in a boiling pot. Farnese captures Kalimat. Because of Barabbas, the monastery was blown up and all Turkish soldiers were killed. Farnese is going to keep Kalimat in his home until his father makes up for all the damage done to Malta. From now on, Malta is free and will not submit to anyone. before Kalimat rises there, a shot is heard, and Farnese cuts the rope - Barabbas falls into the cauldron, standing in the underground. Farnese shows Kalimat what a trap was set up for him. Before his death, Barabbas admits that he wanted to kill everyone; both Christians and Gentiles. Barabbas is not sorry for anyone, and he perishes in a boiling pot. Farnese captures Kalimat. Because of Barabbas, the monastery was blown up and all Turkish soldiers were killed. Farnese is going to keep Kalimat in his home until his father makes up for all the damage done to Malta. From now on, Malta is free and will not submit to anyone. before Kalimat rises there, a shot is heard, and Farnese cuts the rope - Barabbas falls into the cauldron, standing in the underground. Farnese shows Kalimat what a trap was set up for him. Before his death, Barabbas admits that he wanted to kill everyone; both Christians and Gentiles. Barabbas is not sorry for anyone, and he perishes in a boiling pot. Farnese captures Kalimat. Because of Barabbas, the monastery was blown up and all Turkish soldiers were killed. Farnese is going to keep Kalimat in his home until his father makes up for all the damage done to Malta. From now on, Malta is free and will not submit to anyone. Barabbas is not sorry for anyone, and he perishes in a boiling pot. Farnese captures Kalimat. Because of Barabbas, the monastery was blown up and all Turkish soldiers were killed. Farnese is going to keep Kalimat in his home until his father makes up for all the damage done to Malta. From now on, Malta is free and will not submit to anyone. Barabbas is not sorry for anyone, and he perishes in a boiling pot. Farnese captures Kalimat. Because of Barabbas, the monastery was blown up and all Turkish soldiers were killed. Farnese is going to keep Kalimat in his home until his father makes up for all the damage done to Malta. From now on, Malta is free and will not submit to anyone.