The Jew of Malta Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Barabas, a Christian-hating merchant of Malta, receives in his countinghouse a party of merchants who report the arrival of several vessels laden with wealth from the East. At the same time three Jews arrive to announce an important meeting at the senate. The import of the meeting is that the Turkish masters of Malta demand tribute long overdue. The Turkish grand seignior purposely lets the payment lapse over a period of years so that the Maltese will find it impossible to raise the sum demanded. The Maltese have a choice of payment or surrender. The Christian governor of the island, attempting to collect the tribute within a month, decrees that the Jews will have to give over half of their estates or become Christians. All of the Jewish community except Barabas submits to the decree of the governor. The governor seizes all of Barabas’s wealth as punishment and has the Jew’s house turned into a Christian convent.

Barabas, to avoid complete ruin, purposely fails to report part of his treasure hidden in the foundation of his house. Then he persuades his daughter, Abigail, to pretend that she has converted to Christianity so that she might enter the convent and recover the treasure. Abigail dutifully enters the nunnery as a convert and subsequently throws the bags of money out of the window at night to her waiting father.

Martin Del Bosco, vice-admiral of Spain, sails into the harbor of Malta for the purpose of selling some Turkish slaves he has aboard his ship. The governor is reluctant to allow the sale because of the difficulties he is having with the grand seignior. Del Bosco, by promising military aid from Spain, persuades the governor to defy the Turks and to permit the sale.

Barabas buys one of the slaves, an Arabian named Ithamore. During the sale, Barabas fawns upon Don Lodowick, the governor’s son, and Don Mathias. He invites the two young men to his house and orders Abigail, now returned from the convent, to show favor to both. In his desire for revenge, Barabas...

(The entire section is 821 words.)

The Jew of Malta Summary

Act I Summary

The Jew of Malta opens with Barabas in his counting house, busily counting his most recent earnings and hoping that his vessels will...

(The entire section is 422 words.)

Act II Summary

The act opens with Abigail throwing jewels and gold out of a window to her father, waiting below. In the next scene, Martin Del Bosco, a...

(The entire section is 215 words.)

Act III Summary

The act opens with a brief scene, in which Ithamore sees a courtesan, Bellamira, and desires her. The action then shifts to Lodowick and...

(The entire section is 266 words.)

Act IV Summary

As the act opens, Barabas and Ithamore celebrate their success at poisoning the nuns. Barabas only grieves that his daughter lived long...

(The entire section is 220 words.)

Act V Summary

The act opens with Bellamira and Pilia-Borza confronting Ferneze with their information. The governor orders that Ithamore and Barabas be...

(The entire section is 278 words.)