Appearances and Reality
One of the central themes in The Jew of Malta is the differences between what is real and what only appears real. For instance, Ferneze suggests that in taking all of Barabas' wealth, he is not at fault, but only fulfilling the curse of the Jews' inherited sin (Matthew 27:25). But Ferneze uses religion when it is convenient. He ignores the Christian admonition of kindness toward all men, and he lacks any compassion for the Jews. When he needs money, the Jews are suddenly outsiders, although there is every evidence that the governor has made use of the Jews when he needed their financial assistance. But Ferneze is not alone in his deception. The friars pretend to be pious when all they really want is Barabas' money. But Barabas is the most accomplished at deception, pretending to be outraged and destitute at the governor's confiscation of his property, but when alone, dealing matter-of-factly with the events, since he still has plenty of money hidden away. Barabas also pretends to both Lodowick and Mathias that Abigail shall belong to both young men. He pretends to befriend them, when he is really plotting their deaths. He also pretends to the friars that he will convert, setting them against one another, and he even pretends to the Turks that he is their friend, when he plans to murder them all. Barabas is a master at deception, but in reality, he is little different than the other characters—only more willing to kill his...
(The entire section is 1007 words.)
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