The Jew of Malta
by Christopher Marlowe
Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis
Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.
Plot Type : Comedy
We know, we know—Jew of Malta, a Comedy?
The honest truth is that Jew of Malta is tricky to define with regards to plot type and genre. That said, the essential element of a comedy plot is that you're transitioning from this confused state where nobody really knows what's happening and things are topsy-turvy to the ending state where everything is revealed, things are put to rights and problems are resolved. The Jew of Malta fits this plot type better than it does any other, although you should definitely check out our Genre section for more in-depth discussion of how The Jew of Malta really messes around with these categories.
Shadow of Darkness
Things are good on Malta until Ferneze, realizing he has no way to rustle up enough cash to keep the threatening Turkish army at bay, rounds up Malta's Jewish population and orders them to give up half their wealth. Barabas refuses, and Ferneze confiscates all of his property. Cue revenge and murder.
Pressure of Darkness
Barabas, through deceit and trickery, wreaks havoc across Malta, starting off by tricking Ferneze's son, Lodowick, and his daughter's crush, Mathias, to kill each other in a duel. It only gets worse from here, and by Act 5 Barabas has left a truly impressive trail of dead bodies, includinghis own daughter. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the big Malta vs. Turkish Army Showdown, because Ferneze, backed by the Spanish navy, has decided he's going to duke it out with the Turks rather than continue to pay them off.
Everything Comes to Light
Barabas is revealed as the bad guy behind all of the recent murders. He's thrown out of Malta, only to meet up with the Turks on the other side of the city walls to help them invade Malta. The show's not over, though. In the course of his last plot, he's betrayed by Ferneze and finally dies. The Turkish threat is neutralized (via an Exploding Monastery, no less). Ferneze, once again head honcho in Malta, ransoms the Turkish leader for the restoration of a seriously battered and bruised Malta.