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Themes

We like our revenge cold with a little drizzle of honey. The Jew of Malta might not be a full-on revenge tragedy but we definitely agree that revenge is a major theme in this play—the first murder of the play, Lodowick's, is an act of vengeance against Ferneze's father. But how does it work? When is revenge the real motivation behind people's actions? And who is taking revenge on whom? When you think about it, the only clear-cut case of vengeance is when he kills Lodowick to get back at Ferneze. After that? It gets a lot murkier.

Questions About Revenge

  1. To what extent is Barabas motivated by revenge? What is he revenging?
  2. Other than Barabas, the two clear candidates for vengeance-seekers would be Ferneze and Katharine. Does their revenge have a different scope or aim than Barabas's?
  3. By having Lodowick killed and eventually becoming Governor of Malta, even briefly, does Barabas achieve revenge against Ferneze?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

More than anything or anyone else, Barabas acts in pursuit of revenge.

In The Jew of Malta, revenge eventually transforms transforms into something different.

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