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User Name: alibey1917
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Topic: set Barabas up to revel
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:15:49 AM
WeaselADAPT wrote:
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


It has really helped, the Weasel, thank you.
Topic: set Barabas up to revel
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2020 6:11:19 AM
Romany wrote:


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.
Topic: set Barabas up to revel
Posted: Monday, September 21, 2020 6:09:55 AM
FounDit wrote:
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.


He is Christopher Marlowe, and Barabas is the anti-hero in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta. Thank you for your time, again, FounDit.
Topic: set Barabas up to revel
Posted: Sunday, September 20, 2020 2:49:39 PM
"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
Topic: the strain began to tell
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 3:02:20 PM
thar wrote:
The problems of being faced with this impossible task began to have an effect on him, physically and mentally.

Tell = to have a visible effect, to become evident.

Tell

Quote:
9. VERB
If an unpleasant or tiring experience begins to tell, it begins to have a serious effect.
The pressure began to tell as rain closed in after 20 laps. [VERB]
The strains of office are beginning to tell on the prime minister. [VERB on noun]
Synonyms: have or take effect, register [informal], weigh, have force




Ie he became ill or mentally distressed


Thank you thar, I got it.
Topic: the strain began to tell
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020 11:50:39 AM
"Having successfully resurrected his career as ambassador to Con‑ stantinople and single‑ handedly wrecked Spain’s détente with the Ottomans, Harborne was now faced with the colossal task of engin‑ eering an Anglo‑ Ottoman naval attack on Philip II’s Mediterranean fleet. He clearly believed that the undertaking was impossible, and inevitably the strain began to tell."

What does the emphasized phrase mean here?
Topic: Alongside
Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2020 1:50:20 PM

"He occupied a spacious house alongside three resident English factors, Robert Lion, Miles Dickonson and Edmond Mastidge."

According to this sentece, did they live in the same house, or in the same neighbourhood?
Topic: Trade in
Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 3:19:02 AM
Romany wrote:

First off: - the play 'The Three Ladies of London" was a satire.

A satire was understood to have a message; a moral; its purpose was to make people think: to view things through a different lens.

At the time the play was written people (the population) were aware that the continual waging of wars against Islam was a bit of a stretch for a country supposedly defending the "peaceful" aims of the early Church.

However, that very Church was the one telling them that the only way to their Heaven was to massacre the Infidel.

This was a dichotomy that many people felt - they had doubts which made them feel they were betraying their Christian beliefs. So it wasn't spoken about, or written about in public - the punishments for questioning their beliefs were pretty severe back in those days.

This play then, raised the questions people had - but didn't ask.

Deep down, the people of the day knew it was farcical - and perfectly hypocritical - that Christians were robbing their own Churches of lead (from which the roofs were made) in order to make bullets. Which would be sold to Muslims to shoot Christians. Madness, huh? It made people extremely uneasy and doubtful.

However a person could make their fortune fighting in the East. And when money is involved it appeared that religious conviction was a pretty dodgy grey area.

Wilson brings this hidden uneasiness and doubt out into the open for the first time...and made the point that people were so eager for the luxuries of the East that they were prepared to overlook the ridiculous fact that they were ready to arm their 'enemies'and bring about their own deaths. Crazy thinking. And he made them realise HOW crazy it was, with his play.

(Sorry, that was rather long and involved - but satire needs a bit of explanation.)


Thank you very much for this detailed explanation, Romany.
Topic: Trade in
Posted: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 4:15:47 PM
"The play [Robert Wilson's The Three Ladies of London] trades quite literally in the topical unease of laughing at England’s weakness for fripperies in exchange for arming Muslims with metal taken from churches." (Jerry Brotton, This Orient Isle- Elizabethan England and the Islamic World)

Can you paraphrase this sentence?
Topic: although his law was to the contrary
Posted: Friday, September 11, 2020 9:42:26 AM
Romany wrote:


Until the late Victorian period "I consider..." was understood to mean "I think..." "I believe" - which it still is today: "I consider him an unsuitable replacement for Ms. Wood."

What his advisers were saying was: -

"although there's no law against the saltpetre trade with Christians, we should not let them have it, because our need for pellets [which were being denied them]is as great as their need for saltpetre."

...so they were supporting Abdallah Muhammad who had been offered cloth in return for saltpetre and wanted ammunition etc. instead. They were pointing out they were in a good bargaining position as the need for saltpetre was as important to the Christians as ammunition was to them.


Thank you, Romany, I got it.