The Jew of Malta
by Christopher Marlowe
The Jew of Malta Prejudice Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
I crave but this: grace him as he deserves,
And let him not be entertained the worse
Because he favours me. (Prologue 33-35)
Going a little meta here, but roll with us: there's a lot of prejudice in this play, but the audience is only sensitive to it because, well, there's a lot of prejudice in the real world. Machiavelli's closing words in the Prologue tell the audience that they shouldn't let their own prejudices determine their opinion of Barabas. Also interesting? He doesn't warn them against judging Barabas on the basis of his Judaism, but rather because he "favours" Machiavel.
Enter Barabas in his counting-house, with heaps of gold before him (1.1)
Okay, so this is actually a stage direction, but whatever. If you're watching the play, this is the first thing you see: a Jewish guy, named after a famously bad Jewish guy, indulging in a stereotypically Jewish pastime (counting his money, of which he has a lot). Before Barabas ever says a single word, you're set up to understand that he's going to be characterized largely as a stock Jewish character; he's already the anti-Semitic Big Bad.
BARABAS: Are strangers with your tribute to be taxed?
SECOND KNIGHT: Have strangers leave with us to get their wealth?
Then let them with us contribute.
BARABAS: How, equally?
FERNEZE: No, Jew, like infidels.
For through our suff'rance of your hateful lives,
Who stand accursed in the sight of heaven,
These taxes and afflictions are befall'n (1.2.62-5)
Barabas wants to know why all the Maltese Christians aren't contributing to the tribute money, at which point Ferneze pulls the Not Really Citizens Card.The Jews, who are "accursèd in the sight of heaven," aren't allowed to be proper citizens, so obviously they can be subjected to special (and in this case really arbitrary and unfair) treatment. Way harsh, Tai.