Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Barabas (bah-RAB-uhs), the wealthy, miserly Jew of Malta who guides his actions by Machiavellian policy that transcends all human ties of affection and loyalty. With considerable reason, he resents the Christian rulers of Malta, who arbitrarily deprive him of his fortune, and he chooses a particularly cruel form of revenge, setting the young man his daughter loves against the governor’s son in a duel fatal to both combatants. Rejected by the two people for whom he has any feeling, his daughter and his servant Ithamore, he contrives the murder of each and finally betrays Malta to its Turkish enemies. He is caught in the trap that he lays for Selim Calymath and dies cursing humankind.
Abigail, his daughter. She lies and professes her conversion to Christianity as a means to retrieve her father’s hidden treasure, but the death of Mathias so disillusions her that she enters a nunnery to escape Barabas’ evil.
Ithamore (eeth-uh-MOH-ree), Barabas’ slave, who is as ruthless as his master. He carries out the murder of Abigail, the friars, and the nuns, and he delivers the fraudulent challenges to Mathias and Lodowick as the Jew wishes. He readily betrays his master, however, to Bellamira, hoping to make her his mistress with his own eloquence and Barabas’ money.
(The entire section is 532 words.)
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