The Jew of Malta is a play by Christopher Marlowe, probably written in 1589 or 1590. Its plot is an original story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean that takes place on the island of Malta. The Jew of Malta is considered to have been a major influence on William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. The title character, Barabas, is a complex character likely to provoke mixed reactions in an audience. Like Marlowe's other protagonists, such as Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus, he dominates the play's action. There has been extensive debate about the play's portrayal of Jews and how Elizabethan audiences would have viewed it.