Study Guide

The Jew of Malta Act 5, Scene 1

By Christopher Marlowe

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Act 5, Scene 1

  • Ferneze, Bosco and the Knights of Malta are fortifying Malta's defenses as they prepare for the Calymath's arrival.
  • Bellamira and Pilia-Borza run up, demanding to the see the Ferneze.
  • They tell Ferneze that they have proof (Ithamore's testimony) that Barabas is responsible for the deaths of the nuns, Bernadine, Mathias and, most importantly, Ferneze's own son Lodowick.
  • Barabas and Ithamore are immediately dragged out to Ferneze and asked to confess.
  • Barabas is incredulous—confess? Have you met Barabas?—but Ithamore tells them everything.
  • Well, these aren't exactly credible witnesses: all in all, they're depending on the testimony of a slave, a prostitute and a pimp.
  • Whatever, it's good enough for Ferneze!
  • Barabas is taken away, fervently hoping that his poisoned flowers start working pronto.
  • Katharine comes in and is told that Barabas, who is responsible for Mathias's death, is in prison.
  • Hold up, everybody—an officer comes in to announce that Bellamira, Pilia-Borza, Ithamore and Barabas are all dead.
  • They bring in Barabas's body, and Bosco wonders at how this all happened so quickly.
  • Ferneze, who will never join the cast of CSI: Las Vegas, has no such curiosity—the four deaths are just heaven's justice at work. He orders that all the bodies be buried.
  • All the bodies, that is, except for Barabas's—he doesn't deserve burial, Ferneze decides, and is instead just tossed over the city walls to be pecked at by vultures. Note to public officials: always make sure your sworn enemies are All Dead, not just Mostly Dead.
  • Barabas, now on the other side of the walls, stands up. Probably brushes his shoulders off.
  • He declares that he hates this stupid town, wants to get back at all of the inhabitants, and is going to help the Turks get in.
  • He's in luck! Turkish leader Calymath just happens to amble by at that moment.
  • Barabas declares that he's the Jew whose wealth Ferneze stole to pay off the Turks, and that the Maltese bribed his slave (Ithamore) to accuse him of crimes.
  • He further explains that he drank a potion that made him fall asleep and look dead, so the guards threw him over the city walls.
  • Calymath is impressed, and asks Barabas if he can help him and his army break through Malta's defenses.
  • Oh boy, can he! Barabas agrees to help Calymath get into the city, and Calymath in return promises to make him Governor once they've taken control of Malta.

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