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Failures of Fortification and the Counting Houses of The Jew of Malta

Failures of Fortification and the Counting Houses of The Jew of Malta

Chapter:
(p.172) Chapter 5 Failures of Fortification and the Counting Houses of The Jew of Malta
Source:
The Accommodated Jew
Author(s):
Kathy Lavezzo
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501703157.003.0006

This chapter examines Christopher Marlowe's early modern remapping of the Jew and urban space in The Jew of Malta, arguing that the 1952 play enacts a spatial contradiction. Even before the play proper begins, The Jew of Malta foregrounds the ostensible powers of fortification. And just 100 lines into the play, Barabas soliloquizes about Jewish wealth, highlighting the singularly rich Jews inhabiting various lands. A comparison of the space of the Jew to the space of the island reveals that their geographic disparity threatens to render the phrase “The Jew of Malta” something of a non sequitur. This chapter explores Marlowe's staging of how Christian locations in Malta act as doubles of Barabas's counting house. It suggests that Barabas is a canny destabilizer of even Maltese hyperfortified space and that the counting house is a porous site that informs virtually every built environment in The Jew of Malta.

Keywords:   fortification, Christopher Marlowe, urban space, The Jew of Malta, Barabas, Jewish wealth, Jews, Malta, counting house

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