Podcast: Jew of Malta, 3.4

My podcast “Toilet Nunnery and Friends” is covering Act 3 Scene 4 of Shakespeare’s Jew of Malta. The over -all goal for my reading is to discuss how the scene might illustrate and how it is a key element to understanding the play in a broader sense, as well as give my audience an authentic feel for a scene reading as if they were just closing their eyes at a live performance. The central claim/thesis for my work is “Although Barabas and Ithamore are BOTH criminally minded, Barabas is more at fault for the downfall of other characters due to his control and investment like nature of relationships.” I whole heartedly believe that Barabas is the downfall of the whole play and its characters, without him Ithamore would have been criminally negligent as well, but he is nowhere near as bad as after Barabas coerces him into doing his bidding. Barabas seeks to control his whole world; his life, his daughter, his money, his friends, and as soon as he does not get what he wants…..he immediately plots their downfall for his own personal gain. Barabas’s greed for more and hypocrisy highlights this play as equally satirical as well as a revenge play. Appearance versus reality in this scene and overall theme in this play shows that nothing is as it seems in Malta, everyone has their own secret motives and pushes for them over the good will of others. Barabas uses this to his advantage, further hiding and disguising his own motives. Barabas pretends to be a quiet Jew minding his own business with his trade, uninterested in political issues, but he has is manipulating things to his own interest. Ithamore and Barabas swear to each other that they will be partners in crime, based on their mutual evil ways, but Barabas no sooner makes Ithamore his son and heir than he threatens to cut his throat if he is not loyal. Ithamore does not hesitate to blackmail his master to get money. Sooner or later Barabas fails to keep up his juggling act of deception as has to face the truth of his treachery by falling to his death. This scene highlights a key moment in the destruction Barabas causes in the chain of events to occur, and his own downfall.

Garit Daniels