23. Feb. Jew of Malta 4-5


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Discussion Questions

  • 1. Compare the list of deeds Barabas says he done to the deeds he does over the course of the play. Is the speech at the end of 3.2 a spell or a script? Does Barabas determine, through language, the play’s outcome and his own tragic fate? 
  • 2. On Tuesday, we forgot to talk about Barabas and Ithamore’s relationship. So…what do you make of their relationship? How does their “friendship” compare to the other “parings” in this play?
  • 3. Let’s take a minute and read through Ithamore’s report of the Bernardine’s hanging (4.2.24-29). Compare this moment to other instances of “reporting” in Jew of Malta, 3.3.20-24 or 4.1.30-43. 
  • 4. There are a lot of letters in this play–Barabas’ forgeries to Lodowick and Mathias (4.1.49) and the blackmail letters Bellamira conns/demands that Ithamore write to Barabas (4.274-90) are just two examples. Why is reading and writing letters so important in this play? What do the letters tell us about the status of authorship in the this play?
  • 5. How does get revenge against Ithamore, Pilia-Borza, and Bellamira? 
  • 6. How does Barabas escape being prosecuted for the muders of the nuns, his daughter, the two friars, Lodowick, and Mathias?
  • 7. Who’s the best governor of Malta?  
  • 8. The final parting shot of Jew of Malta is of Barabas, first falling and the boiling to death inside the cauldron he set up for Calymath. How can we read Barabas’s fall? 
  • 9. What’s for dinner? Also how does the big cauldron at the end echo the pot that Barabas poisons?
  • 10. What is your final assessment of Barabas? Of the relative status of humans?


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