Study Guide

The Jew of Malta Act 2, Scene 3

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Act 2, Scene 3

  • Barabas wanders the slave market with that bag of gold burning a hole in his pocket. Or codpiece.
  • Even though the Maltese think he's penniless, he's actually just bought a house as big Ferneze's. So take that.
  • Here comes Lodowick. (Oh, by the way? Lodowick is totally Ferneze's son.)
  • Lodowick wants to get in touch with Abigail through him.
  • Barabas has his own plan: killing Lodowick for the dastardly crime of being Ferneze's son.
  • We have a pretty complicated back-and-forth here between Barabas and Lodowick. The two pretend to be talking about whether Barabas can procure a diamond for Lodowick, but of course they're really talking about whether Barabas can hook Lodowick up with Abigail.
  • Using their diamond-as-daughter code-speak, Barabas tells Lodowick to come to his house later, where he'll hand Abigail over to him.
  • Pay close attention to all the stage directions indicating what's being said aloud or in private—Barabas pretends he's going to give up Abigail, while he literally intends to give Abigail to Lodowick over Lodowick's dead body.
  • Barabas goes to look at the slaves, and picks one out because he's so skinny that Barabas figures he won't have to feed him much.
  • This is the kind of good business sense that presumably made Barabas so rich in the first place.
  • The slave is Ithamore, coming at you from Thrace and Arabia. FYI, Thracians were traditionally regarded as scary, barbaric dudes. Spartacus? Thracian.
  • Mathias approaches with his mom, Katharine.
  • She's got mom Spidey-sense, and she immediately knows that something's up when she sees Lodowick and Barabas talking.
  • Barabas denies everything, of course, and he and Mathias proceed to have another coded conversation wherein Barabas promises to help Mathias hook up with Abigail too (this time she's a book instead of a diamond).
  • Mathias buys his story and leaves.
  • Barabas turns to Ithamore to learn more about him, but first he lists his own extracurricular activities, which include such fun endeavors as poisoning wells, committing high treason, and driving people to suicide.
  • Where did he find the time for all this?
  • Hey, this is a Marlowe play. When it comes to evil, it's not about having the time; it's about making the time.
  • Anyway, if Barabas had put out a Craigslist ad for a murderous accomplice, he couldn't have gotten luckier: Ithamore hates Christians.
  • His resume includes burning their villages and spreading poisoned powder on the steps of Jerusalem, just so that all the kneeling pilgrims would be crippled.
  • Ten points for creativity, Ithy.
  • They've walked over to Barabas's old house by now. Barabas calls Abigail out and whispers to her that she has to pretend to be in love with Lodowick. In fact, he's hoping that she can convince Lodowick to propose to her.
  • This is a bad plan for Abigail because, surprise! She's in love with Mathias.
  • Well, so what? Barabas doesn't need her to actually love Lodowick, just pretend for a little while.
  • Abigail and Lodowick disappear inside, and Barabas lets us know that he's plotting Mathias's death as well.
  • Man, we'd hate to see his to-do list.
  • Mathias appears, hoping to see Abigail.
  • Barabas is all, man, you know I love you. I want you marry Abigail; Abigail wants you to marry Abigail; but this Lodowick guy has been hitting her up with letters and presents and stuff, so…
  • Mathias is understandably ticked off about hearing how his friend has been making the moves on his crush.
  • Lodowick and Abigail emerge from the house holding hands, which gets Mathias even more riled up.
  • Barabas has to hold Mathias back from trying to jump Lodowick on the spot and sends him off.
  • Lodowick approaches Barabas, wondering why Mathias had taken off in a huff.
  • Barabas explains that Mathias has got it bad for Abigail and has sworn to kill Lodowick.
  • Lodowick asks for Barabas's permission to marry Abigail, explaining that he's been in love with her for along time and doesn't care about Barabas's wealth (or the apparent lack of it).
  • Note: long time? He literally met her like three minutes ago.
  • Barabas pressures Abigail into agreeing to marry Lodowick, even though she's totally sobbing. He explains that it's tradition to cry after you get engaged. Yeah, totally!
  • Mathias pops back in just as Lodowick (now thinking himself engaged to Abigail and threatening to kill Mathias) leaves.
  • Are you still with us?
  • Barabas tells Mathias that Lodowick wants him dead, and then offers him Abigail, having now ensured that both these guys want to kill each other.
  • Mathias, now also thinking himself engaged to Abigail, flies off to intercept Lodowick.
  • Abigail is pretty distraught, and promises to make the two friends again and marry Mathias.
  • Barabas doesn't get why she can't just find a Nice Jewish Boy. (Try JDate?)
  • Ithamore and Barabas shut Abigail in the house, and Barabas orders Ithamore to bring a letter to Mathias.
  • Here's the truck: Barabas has written the letter, but they're making it look like Lodowick did.

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