The Jew of Malta

by: Christopher Marlowe

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

MACHEVILL I count religion but a childish toy, And hold there is no sin but ignorance. Birds of the air will tell of murders past? I am ashamed to hear such fooleries: Many will talk of title to a crown. What right had Caesar to the empire? Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure When like the Draco's they were writ in blood. (Prologue. 14–21) But whither am I bound, I come not, I, To read a lecture here in Britaine, But to present the tragedy of a Jew, Who smiles to see how full his bags are crammed, Which money was not got without my means. I crave but this, grace him as he deserves, And let him not be entertained the worse Because he favors me. (Prologue. 28–35)

In this passage, Marlowe introduces a theme of Machiavellian strategy that runs throughout his play. The Prologue satirizes Machiavelli's theory of statecraft as the narrator holds religion to a "childish toy" and regards ignorance as the only sin. Machevill notes that Barabas "favors" him, which could mean that Barabas either resembles Machiavelli or advocates his tactics. Either way, before we are even introduced to Barabas, Marlowe associates his protagonist with the most notorious political schemer of his day. The audience is effectively forewarned to expect such Machiavellian-style duplicity in the play itself.