A scene for 2 characters from the play "The Jew of Malta" by Christopher Marlowe



About this Monologue

  • Characters: Barabas bigail
  • Scene type / Who are: Father/Daughter
  • Type: Dramatic
  • Year: 1589
  • Genre: Tragedy, Drama
  • Description: Barabas plots to send his daughter Abigail to the nunnery disguised as a nun
  • Location: ACT I, Scene 2


Barabas is a wealthy Jewish merchant who lives in Malta. At the beginning of the play he learns that the governor of the island has confiscated all his money and land in order to pay tribute to the Turks. His house is also confiscated and turned into a nunnery. Since he still has a lot of money hidden in the house, he proposes to his daughter to dress up as a nun, pretend to convert to christianity and join the convent in order to retrieve his hidden treasures.

In this scene we find Barabas and his daughter Abigail. They plot to dress her up as a nun to enter the convent.

Written by Administrator


BARABAS. See the simplicity of these base slaves,
     Who, for the villains have no wit themselves,
     Think me to be a senseless lump of clay,
     That will with every water wash to dirt!
     No, Barabas is born to better chance,
     And fram'd of finer mould than common men,
     That measure naught but by the present time.
     A reaching thought will search his deepest wits,
     And cast with cunning for the time to come;
     For evils are apt to happen every day.

          [Enter ABIGAIL.]

     But whither wends my beauteous Abigail?
     O, what has made my lovely daughter sad?
     What, woman! moan not for a little loss;
     Thy father has enough in store for thee.

     ABIGAIL. Nor for myself, but aged Barabas,
     Father, for thee lamenteth Abigail:
     But I will learn to leave these fruitless tears;
     And, urg'd thereto with my afflictions,
     With fierce exclaims run to the senate-house,
     And in the senate reprehend them all,
     And rent their hearts with tearing of my hair,
     Till they reduce the wrongs done to my father.

     BARABAS. No, Abigail; things past recovery
     Are hardly cur'd with exclamations:
     Be silent, daughter; sufferance breeds ease,
     And time may yield us an occasion,
     Which on the sudden cannot serve the turn.
     Besides, my girl, think me not all so fond
     As negligently to forgo so much
     Without provision for thyself and me:
     Ten thousand portagues, besides great pearls,
     Rich costly jewels, and stones infinite,
     Fearing the worst of this before it fell,
     I closely hid.

     ABIGAIL. Where, father?

     BARABAS. In my house, my girl.

     ABIGAIL. Then shall they ne'er be seen of Barabas;
     For they have seiz'd upon thy house and wares.

     BARABAS. But they will give me leave once more, I trow,
     To go into my house.

     ABIGAIL. That may they not;
     For there I left the governor placing nuns,
     Displacing me; and of thy house they mean
     To make a nunnery, where none but their own sect [46]
     Must enter in; men generally barr'd.

     BARABAS. My gold, my gold, and all my wealth is gone!--
     You partial heavens, have I deserv'd this plague?
     What, will you thus oppose me, luckless stars,
     To make me desperate in my poverty?
     And, knowing me impatient in distress,
     Think me so mad as I will hang myself,
     That I may vanish o'er the earth in air,
     And leave no memory that e'er I was?
     No, I will live; nor loathe I this my life:
     And, since you leave me in the ocean thus
     To sink or swim, and put me to my shifts,
     I'll rouse my senses, and awake myself.--
     Daughter, I have it:  thou perceiv'st the plight
     Wherein these Christians have oppressed me:
     Be rul'd by me, for in extremity
     We ought to make bar of no policy.

     ABIGAIL. Father, whate'er it be, to injure them
     That have so manifestly wronged us,
     What will not Abigail attempt?

     BARABAS. Why, so.
     Then thus:  thou told'st me they have turn'd my house
     Into a nunnery, and some nuns are there?

     ABIGAIL. I did.

     BARABAS. Then, Abigail, there must my girl
     Entreat the abbess to be entertain'd.

     ABIGAIL. How! as a nun?

     BARABAS. Ay, daughter; for religion
     Hides many mischiefs from suspicion.

     ABIGAIL. Ay, but, father, they will suspect me there.

     BARABAS. Let 'em suspect; but be thou so precise
     As they may think it done of holiness:
     Entreat 'em fair, and give them friendly speech,
     And seem to them as if thy sins were great,
     Till thou hast gotten to be entertain'd.

     ABIGAIL. Thus, father, shall I much dissemble.

     BARABAS. Tush!
     As good dissemble that thou never mean'st,
     As first mean truth and then dissemble it:
     A counterfeit profession is better
     Than unseen hypocrisy.

     ABIGAIL. Well, father, say I be entertain'd,
     What then shall follow?

     BARABAS. This shall follow then.
     There have I hid, close underneath the plank
     That runs along the upper-chamber floor,
     The gold and jewels which I kept for thee:--
     But here they come:  be cunning, Abigail.

     ABIGAIL. Then, father, go with me.

     BARABAS. No, Abigail, in this
     It is not necessary I be seen;
     For I will seem offended with thee for't:
     Be close, my girl, for this must fetch my gold.
          [They retire.]

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