The Jew of Malta | Study Guide

Christopher Marlowe

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The Jew of Malta | Act 5, Scene 2 | Summary



Calymath boasts of his victory over the Maltese, taunting Ferneze, who has capitulated. He proclaims Barabas the new governor of Malta and bestows an armed guard on him for protection.

Left alone on stage, Barabas gloats over his newly acquired authority, but he then puts a stunning reversal in motion. Deciding to play the Christians and the Turks off against each other, he makes a deal with Ferneze to destroy the Turkish conquerors in return for further riches. The two men shake hands to confirm their conspiracy.


Even in victory, Barabas never remains at rest. Significantly, he uses the word "policy" four times during this scene. He also alludes to Machiavelli's classic work of political theory, The Prince. For example, Barabas's words about maintaining his ill-gotten authority through "firm policy" echo Chapter 7 of Machiavelli's work in which Machiavelli explains how difficult it is to maintain power when a new prince does not have an army of his own. Barabas's "stratagem" to invite the Turks to a "solemn feast" where they will be destroyed echoes Chapter 8 of The Prince in which Machiavelli describes a Greek tyrant who tried the same scheme. Barabas's concluding words about self-interest may be regarded as his personal creed.

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