The Jew Of Malta And The Merchant Of Venice

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It is clear to see the similarities between the plays The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe and The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Marlowe is thought to have been a contemporary of Shakespeare and he would have looked towards Shakespeare and his famous comedy for inspiration for his own work. One of the most significant similarities between the two plays is their Jewish characters, Barabas from The Jew of Malta and Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. However, it is said that Barabas is the more extreme version of Shylock. In this essay, the similarities and differences between these two Jews will be discussed with reference to the two plays The Merchant of Venice and The Jew of Malta. Firstly, it is important to note the titles …show more content…
My money!’ (1.2.52-55)

Furthermore, as a result of the prejudice and racism these Jewish protagonists face, they have developed a strong hatred for the Christians. In the case of Barabas, this hatred has caused him to act extremely and murder some of the Christians for wanting to take his money (1.2). In relation to Shylock, he does not kill anyone and he is not a murderous fiend in the play The Merchant of Venice. All that Shylock wants is to be respected for who he is as a Jew and as a person for the only difference is religion. ‘I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?’
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Along with money, their daughters hold a significant importance to them. Barabas states in The Jew of Malta that he has ‘but one sole daughter, whom I hold as dear/As Agamemnon did his Iphigen/And all I have is hers’ (1.1.136-138). However, in each of the plays, both Shylock’s and Barabas’ daughters turn their backs on them for Christianity. In The Merchant of Venice, Jessica, Shylock’s daughter falls in love with a Christian called Lorenzo. She escapes her father’s house with his riches and runs off to marry her love. Shylock’s daughter is now dead to him because of her betrayal but he does not do anything to physically harm her and Lorenzo. In the play, we see the sadness that overbears Shylock when he discovers Jessica is gone. ‘O my daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!’ (2.8.15). However, in The Jew of Malta, Barabas does harm his daughter Abigail when she becomes a Christian nun. Barabas is so angry over her betrayal that he kills his daughter by putting poison on food that was sent into the nunnery. In this sense, Abigail is physically dead to her Jewish

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