Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Lies and Deceit

The Jew of Malta opens with the ghost of Niccolò Machiavelli, the man who literally wrote the book on playing dirty to achieve and maintain power. With that kind of introduction, it shouldn't surp...

Prejudice

The Jew of Malta hits us with two levels of prejudice: First, your run-of-the-mill every racial/religious group hating on every other racial/religious group. Second, the fact that this play is abou...

Wealth

Our characters aren't out buying Ferraris or $3,333.33 ice cream sundaes; they're buying cities and people. Money doesn't just buy you cool stuff in The Jew of Malta: it buys you power. And in this...

Religion

Religion: it brings people together; it ties us to our past; it encourages us to be kinder and more loving. Right? Well, not in The Jew of Malta. In Marlowe's play, religion is just one more way to...

Hypocrisy

Ah, hypocrisy: the gift that keeps giving. Well, if you're on Malta, anyway. Generally speaking, hypocrisy is claiming you have one set of moral standards and then acting according to a different s...

Justice and Judgment

If Barabas were a teenager, he'd be stomping off to his room to slam the door and scream, "It's not fair." And it's not. The events of The Jew of Malta are set off by one moment of blatant unfairne...

Perseverance

Jews weren't popular in Renaissance Europe. (We know, you're shocked to hear that: The Jew of Malta is so full of praise.) They frequently faced the decision of either converting to Christianity or...

Revenge

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 murd...

Politics

Welcome to Malta, dead center in a huge geopolitical struggle between East and West. The Turks are threatening to invade the defenseless city, and Ferneze is making deals left and right to try to m...
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