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

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.

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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Dr. Walid Zaiter is an assistant professor of English Literature at Taibah University, SaudiArabia. He is in the process of publishing some articles in different international journals. His research interests are poetry, drama, fiction, philosophy, and language teaching. He has already
published eight articles of various genres of literature and language. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7256-1806