AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 4, Number2. May 2020 Pp.69-81
The Representation of the Jews and Others in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and
Shakespeare’s the Merchant of Venice on the Elizabethan Stage: Convention, Rhetoric ,
Sources and the Spirit of the Age
Walid Ali Zaiter
Department of Languages and Translation
Taibah University, Saudi Arabia
Jews were represented on the Elizabethan stage as characters of evil deeds, motivated by money to control others and would project hatred towards those who inflict pain on them whether physical or psychological. Themes of money, hatred, love, assuming control over others are archetypal issues, which can be found in almost all dramas of the world. On these common grounds of the representations of characters in plays like those portrayed in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta (1633) and Shakespeare’s the Merchant of Venice (1600), these topics permeate the old and ancient dramas, of the Greeks and Romans and up to the present times. Such everlasting- themes have always been tackled on the world’s stage. The core issue in drama is whether the audience, watching any play in its time or at any age, enjoy the performance of the play. Marlowe’s Barabas or Shakespeare’s Shylock, for example, these characters have inspired many critics who always converge and diverge about such characters. This article, however, argues that one should first read these plays from definite perspectives like convention, rhetoric, sources and the spirit of the age in order to understand the reality of some circumstances during that era, Elizabethan times. Another perspective, equally important, is the fact that the Jews, the Turks and Christians were represented on the Elizabethan stage as objects of entertainment and instruction. Finally, one should read closely the Elizabethan and the reception of the plays above mentioned to understand them in the proper context. Interestingly enough, Marlowe’s play is a revenge tragedy, while Shakespeare is a comedy.
Key words: anti-Semitism, Machiavelli, More, the parameters of Convention, Rhetoric, Sources and the Spirit of the Age.
Cite as: Zaiter, W. A. (2020). The Representation of the Jews and Others in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and Shakespeare’s the Merchant of Venice on the Elizabethan Stage: Convention, Rhetoric , Sources and the Spirit of the Age. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 4 (2) 69-81.
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