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alibey1917
Posted: Sunday, September 20, 2020 2:49:39 PM

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"The Jew of Malta ... was a play that put the three religions of the Book on stage, each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:

As for myself, I walk abroad a‑ nights
And kill sick people groaning under walls;
Sometimes I go about and poison wells;
... "

Can you paraphrase the emphasized phrase?

The source: This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World by Jerry Brotton
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, September 20, 2020 6:57:33 PM

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alibey1917 wrote:
"The Jew of Malta ... was a play that put the three religions of the Book on stage, each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:

As for myself, I walk abroad a‑ nights
And kill sick people groaning under walls;
Sometimes I go about and poison wells;
... "

Can you paraphrase the emphasized phrase?

The source: This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World by Jerry Brotton


I don't know who Marlowe is, but he apparently had Barabas behaving in a way that the audience would approve of in that time period.
alibey1917
Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020 6:09:55 AM

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Joined: 9/19/2018
Posts: 315
Neurons: 6,405
FounDit yazdı:
alibey1917 yazdı:
"The Jew of Malta ... was a play that put the three religions of the Book on stage, each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:

As for myself, I walk abroad a‑ nights
And kill sick people groaning under walls;
Sometimes I go about and poison wells;
... "

Can you paraphrase the emphasized phrase?

The source: This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World by Jerry Brotton


I don't know who Marlowe is, but he apparently had Barabas behaving in a way that the audience would approve of in that time period.


He is Christopher Marlowe, and Barabas is the anti-hero in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta. Thank you for your time, again, FounDit.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 5:35:40 AM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,718
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom


Alibey -

It was a loss to the Elizabethan theatre when Kit Marlowe was killed because he was much more imaginative and clever than William S. as well as knowing all the ins and outs of Government and the Court - which Shakespeare never had!

So, whether he was being satirical or not, when he wrote "The Jew" he portrayed the protagonists of the three main religious groups as equally bad and allotted them all the stereotypes that were current in Elizabethan England.

This was revolutionary, because Christians were used to seeing themselves portrayed as the "Good Ones" and the Jews and Saracens/Moors as "Bad". He admitted/explained that he had done it on purpose. In today's parlance he was "messing with their heads".

He never did admit to the rumours that he was a British spy so we probably will never know for sure; but he was certainly a shadowy figure who did much secretive work for England. People afterwards used his knowledge and familiarity with 'Infidels' (as per a previous discussion) as presented in this play to argue for his being a spy for the British.
WeaselADAPT
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 1:45:45 AM

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Joined: 11/6/2014
Posts: 366
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Location: Kentwood, Michigan, United States
alibey1917 wrote:
"The Jew of Malta ... was a play that put the three religions of the Book on stage, each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:

As for myself, I walk abroad a‑ nights
And kill sick people groaning under walls;
Sometimes I go about and poison wells;
... "

Can you paraphrase the emphasized phrase?

The source: This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World by Jerry Brotton


Hi, Ali.

I'd like to offer that many of these quotes from historical, biographical or academic works can be very difficult for us (though I should only speak for myself) to interpret and decipher, even when they're written in our first language. Many such works are written in long, progressive, context-laden prose, sometimes building arguments across several paragraphs or even multiple chapters. In these cases, a very brief passage is often not enough to go on to wheedle out the exact meaning of a small portion of that passage. Still, I'll do my best.

According to my research, Marlowe (Christopher Marlowe), an English playwright, authored the play. It was first performed in 1592 and was played maybe 40 or so times over the next four years. This was when Queen Elizabeth I ruled England, so that is where we get "an Elizabethan audience." It would have been played probably for Queen Elizabeth but in a public venue so the townspeople could watch. Alternatively, it might have been performed in her court where only the uppity noble types would attend. In either case, it would have been an Elizabethan audience, whether restricted to 100 or more or open to thousands. The three religions referenced are, I believe, Christianity (both Protestantism and Catholicism were prominent and competing with each other there at that time), Judaism (the Jewish faith), and Islam (the faith of the Muslims). The point of the book, This Orient Isle, is that we have generally all learned in history class that 16th and 17th century England was basically Christian, going back and forth between Catholics (Mary I) and Protestants (Elizabeth I) – with some Jews in the picture, too – but there are many records showing that Queen Elizabeth actually had a rather remarkable extent of interaction with the Muslims, too. Finally, the phrase "to revel in X" technically means "to take pleasure in X," "to delight in/relish/savor X," "to enjoy X," but why or how would a character in a play enjoy the bigotry, biases or unfair tendencies that resides in the hearts of his audience? Rather, I think Brotton is trying to say that Barabas plays into those tendencies. Like, every member of the audience loathes at least one religion (if not all of them), believing the people of those religions all claim to serve their gods but then do horrible things to each other and still act like they're saints, but here comes Barabas bragging boldly about the horrible things he's done (and he's not just bragging about his own exploits but attempting to TEACH Ithamore to do the same and follow the same path). Imagine how the crowd will love (revel in) the Barabas character's honesty! "Sure, he's a horrible person, but at least he's not pretending to not be!" So, personally, I feel like Brotton twisted the "revel in" phrase, attributing it to the wrong/opposite party. Of course, he may have another explanation if he were here.

All right, with that bit of back story, let's tackle the sentence:

The Jew of Malta — the complete title, at least according to a surviving 1633 copy, was The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta...
... was a play — written by English poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe in 1589 or 1590...
that put the three religions of the Book — Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; I had thought "the Book" referred to the Bible, but I'm really not sure...
on stage, — as discussed above, it was a play, probably performed on stage, but here "on stage" means "putting the three religions on display before the audience...
each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. — with each religion portrayed as being more greedy, deceitful, and falsely virtuous than the other...
In a wonderful declaration — In a very well-written, colorfully descriptive passage...
of self‑ confessed villainy, — in which he declares, in no uncertain terms, how horrible a man he is...
Marlowe set Barabas up — the author makes his main character, Barabas,...
to revel in — play into or appeal to...
the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience: — the very nasty ways the audience feels about each other or those of any other ilk or religion than their own.

And then comes the first three lines of Barabas's awesomely horrible declaration/confession of crimes.

OK, well, I hope that helps. Please do note that I'm not certain of my interpretation nor guaranteeing this answer is correct. I just saw your interesting question and thought if I tried to answer it for you as well as I could, I'd probably learn something myself along the way.

By the way, you can read the entire play at Project Gutenberg online.

the Weasel
WeaselWorks Freelance Editing
Romany
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:06:09 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,718
Neurons: 57,415
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Weasel -

Just one thing I'd add - keep in mind it was Kit M. whom the writer says "revels in" the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience. It was Kit himselff who revelled in shaking up the audiences prejudices. This where his own experiences in the shadowy world of international intrigue I mentioned above, is relevant.

If even 10% of the stories of Kit's involvement as the 007 of his age were true; it would appear he had travelled incognito on his missions for Elizabeth. Even if he had NOT been involved in spying he would have become aware of how the 3 main groups thought...and how they were treated by the others; in order to pass among them unremarkably.

Thus, he would have 'revelled' in presenting the idiocy of racial/religious/cultural tropes before audiences and in forcing them to confront them too.

Never forget too, that satire was woven into Elizabethan theatre, and Marlowe's satire was very well developed! How he would have revelled in that, too - keeping his tongue firmly lodged in his cheek when writing many of the lines that modern audiences would accept at face value.
alibey1917
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:11:19 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2018
Posts: 315
Neurons: 6,405
Romany yazdı:


Alibey -

It was a loss to the Elizabethan theatre when Kit Marlowe was killed because he was much more imaginative and clever than William S. as well as knowing all the ins and outs of Government and the Court - which Shakespeare never had!

So, whether he was being satirical or not, when he wrote "The Jew" he portrayed the protagonists of the three main religious groups as equally bad and allotted them all the stereotypes that were current in Elizabethan England.

This was revolutionary, because Christians were used to seeing themselves portrayed as the "Good Ones" and the Jews and Saracens/Moors as "Bad". He admitted/explained that he had done it on purpose. In today's parlance he was "messing with their heads".

He never did admit to the rumours that he was a British spy so we probably will never know for sure; but he was certainly a shadowy figure who did much secretive work for England. People afterwards used his knowledge and familiarity with 'Infidels' (as per a previous discussion) as presented in this play to argue for his being a spy for the British.


Thank you for this nice information, Romany.
alibey1917
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:15:49 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2018
Posts: 315
Neurons: 6,405
WeaselADAPT yazdı:
alibey1917 yazdı:
"The Jew of Malta ... was a play that put the three religions of the Book on stage, each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:

As for myself, I walk abroad a‑ nights
And kill sick people groaning under walls;
Sometimes I go about and poison wells;
... "

Can you paraphrase the emphasized phrase?

The source: This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World by Jerry Brotton


Hi, Ali.

I'd like to offer that many of these quotes from historical, biographical or academic works can be very difficult for us (though I should only speak for myself) to interpret and decipher, even when they're written in our first language. Many such works are written in long, progressive, context-laden prose, sometimes building arguments across several paragraphs or even multiple chapters. In these cases, a very brief passage is often not enough to go on to wheedle out the exact meaning of a small portion of that passage. Still, I'll do my best.

According to my research, Marlowe (Christopher Marlowe), an English playwright, authored the play. It was first performed in 1592 and was played maybe 40 or so times over the next four years. This was when Queen Elizabeth I ruled England, so that is where we get "an Elizabethan audience." It would have been played probably for Queen Elizabeth but in a public venue so the townspeople could watch. Alternatively, it might have been performed in her court where only the uppity noble types would attend. In either case, it would have been an Elizabethan audience, whether restricted to 100 or more or open to thousands. The three religions referenced are, I believe, Christianity (both Protestantism and Catholicism were prominent and competing with each other there at that time), Judaism (the Jewish faith), and Islam (the faith of the Muslims). The point of the book, This Orient Isle, is that we have generally all learned in history class that 16th and 17th century England was basically Christian, going back and forth between Catholics (Mary I) and Protestants (Elizabeth I) – with some Jews in the picture, too – but there are many records showing that Queen Elizabeth actually had a rather remarkable extent of interaction with the Muslims, too. Finally, the phrase "to revel in X" technically means "to take pleasure in X," "to delight in/relish/savor X," "to enjoy X," but why or how would a character in a play enjoy the bigotry, biases or unfair tendencies that resides in the hearts of his audience? Rather, I think Brotton is trying to say that Barabas plays into those tendencies. Like, every member of the audience loathes at least one religion (if not all of them), believing the people of those religions all claim to serve their gods but then do horrible things to each other and still act like they're saints, but here comes Barabas bragging boldly about the horrible things he's done (and he's not just bragging about his own exploits but attempting to TEACH Ithamore to do the same and follow the same path). Imagine how the crowd will love (revel in) the Barabas character's honesty! "Sure, he's a horrible person, but at least he's not pretending to not be!" So, personally, I feel like Brotton twisted the "revel in" phrase, attributing it to the wrong/opposite party. Of course, he may have another explanation if he were here.

All right, with that bit of back story, let's tackle the sentence:

The Jew of Malta — the complete title, at least according to a surviving 1633 copy, was The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta...
... was a play — written by English poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe in 1589 or 1590...
that put the three religions of the Book — Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; I had thought "the Book" referred to the Bible, but I'm really not sure...
on stage, — as discussed above, it was a play, probably performed on stage, but here "on stage" means "putting the three religions on display before the audience...
each found to be more rapacious, duplicitous and hypocritical than the other. — with each religion portrayed as being more greedy, deceitful, and falsely virtuous than the other...
In a wonderful declaration — In a very well-written, colorfully descriptive passage...
of self‑ confessed villainy, — in which he declares, in no uncertain terms, how horrible a man he is...
Marlowe set Barabas up — the author makes his main character, Barabas,...
to revel in — play into or appeal to...
the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience: — the very nasty ways the audience feels about each other or those of any other ilk or religion than their own.

And then comes the first three lines of Barabas's awesomely horrible declaration/confession of crimes.

OK, well, I hope that helps. Please do note that I'm not certain of my interpretation nor guaranteeing this answer is correct. I just saw your interesting question and thought if I tried to answer it for you as well as I could, I'd probably learn something myself along the way.

By the way, you can read the entire play at Project Gutenberg online.

the Weasel
WeaselWorks Freelance Editing


It has really helped, the Weasel, thank you.
WeaselADAPT
Posted: Saturday, September 26, 2020 4:16:07 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/6/2014
Posts: 366
Neurons: 87,036
Location: Kentwood, Michigan, United States
Romany wrote:

Weasel -

Just one thing I'd add - keep in mind it was Kit M. whom the writer says "revels in" the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience. It was Kit himself who revelled in shaking up the audiences prejudices.


Hi, Romany.

I'm glad I checked back on this thread today. You sound much more learned on these matters than I. I appreciated reading your exposition. I was crafting my original reply while you posted your first and I didn't see it until today.

On the point of yours I've quoted, however, I'm not sure we can be certain of that, at least from the passage we have to work with here. Before you mentioned it, I had seen only one possible interpretation, but even though I do now see the other possibility, it still seems quite open to speculation, which meaning Brotton had intended:

1. "In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up [for Marlowe, the playwright] to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:"
2. "In a wonderful declaration of self‑ confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up [for he, Barabas, himself] to revel in the prejudices of an Elizabethan audience:"

This is not to say that I believe Brotten intended to leave it to readers to decide, but that by his ambiguity he has forced that debate upon us. Personally, given how the sentence opens, I still feel that it is more likely that he is saying that the character (Barabas) was set up (or positioned) – by Marlowe, of course – to revel in the audience's prejudices.

"In a ... declaration of self-confessed villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of [the] audience." =
"In a passage where Barabas declares his own villainy, Marlowe set Barabas up to revel in the prejudices of [the] audience." =
"By penning a passage where Barabas declares his own villainy, Marlowe [or Kit, if you like] positions Barabas to revel in the prejudices of the audience."

As I mentioned in my original response, I still find it difficult to see how a character in a play can revel in any feelings of the audience, as he is by the nature of the relationship wholly unaware of them. Yet, that alone is not enough to push me to the counter position against that which I believe is supported by the beginning of the sentence. Indeed, this is precisely why I offered the disclaimer and caution at the opening of my first response; I feel the sentence could be read either way and that a larger passage and more context would be required to nail it down to one meaning or the other with any certainty.

While I am not at all content with the solution, I still find it more likely that Brotton has somehow swapped subject for object with regard to "reveling in." I would very much like to side with your view, as it would be easier to accept in most ways, but grammatically [well, I'm not sure it's a matter of grammar, per se], I really don't see it adding up. Could you possibly break it down for me, Romany?

Much thanks.

the Weasel
Romany
Posted: Saturday, September 26, 2020 5:43:51 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 17,718
Neurons: 57,415
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
`
Well, it didn't actually occur to me that it meant anything else, because of who Kit Marlowe was; the way he wrote; his personal beliefs.

The main reason people regard this as Marlowe taking the piss, as it were, is because he himself was an atheist. So he really has no dog in this race: he presents all 3 of the main religions...but doesn't present Christianity as superior. Rather, as a result of his travels, he's able for the first time on an English stage, to present the radical idea that all three are pretty much of a muchness by revealing how Islam and Judaism regard Christianity.

That's why I mentioned satire earlier too: to Kit it was satirical; but his audiences wouldn't have recognised that. THAT definitely he would have chuckled over and enjoyed discussing with his like-minded coterie.

He was classically educated, witty, unconventional (his father had been a shoemaker) - but also full of fun, charming, and was the only man in England who would have been able to stage The Jew.

There is also a lot of discussion about Elizabeth's real feelings about religion and divinity too. As Queen, and Henry's daughter, she was head of the Church of England. But from her private writing and conversations, there is plenty of room for speculation that the barbarity of the religious persecutions which had taken place under her sister Mary sickened her; and that she learnt that neither group was any better than the other.

So this adds another layer to Marlowe's glee: the possibility that, unbeknown to the rest of the world, he and Elizabeth were sharing a joke through the dialogue he put in his characters mouths?

Early Modern Theatre is never written, presented, or received as one-dimensional: it's composed of different layers of meanings, in-jokes, wild satire, current scandals, ribaldry and is a glorious way to examine how our ancestors lived and thought.

WeaselADAPT
Posted: Saturday, September 26, 2020 6:19:55 PM

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Joined: 11/6/2014
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Location: Kentwood, Michigan, United States
Yeah, but...

I'm really not debating how Brotten in This Orient Isle should have interpreted or portrayed 16th century Marlowe in his 2016 book. I'm simply debating the single sentence or passage Alibey gave us. I'm saying that, grammatically, the sentence appears to be saying something other than how you interpreted it. Whether Brotten was right or wrong to think that way (if in fact he did) is not really at issue.

I can appreciate the scholarly approach of wringing reason from historical facts, but that won't answer the question of exactly what he meant in this sentence ... and that is really the only thing I'm after. Pray

the Weasel
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