Looks Can Be Deceiving
Disguise plays an important role throughout both the "Jew of Malta" and "Merchant of Venice." Play writers, especially Shakespeare, are known for their use of trickery in their writings. Disguise among characters brings about a literary device known as dramatic irony, in which the audience knows what the characters do not: behind the mask there lies someone other than who the character pretends to be. The beginnings of dramatic irony actually date back to the writings of Merlandew and Plautus. This literary device psychologically puts the audience inside the play and keeps them on the edge of their seats. Mistaken identity can not only reveal a truth for the characters onstage, but it also reveals a truth to the audience who has been actively engaged in the unraveling suspense. The use of disguise brings out a major theme of appearance versus reality. In both the Jew of Malta and Merchant of Venice, the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover" is rightly justified.
Disguise brings about similar endings. The trickery and betrayals of the characters in the end bring about tragedy. The two plays have parallel endings, with the protagonists left with nothing but failure. In the "Jew of Malta", most characters are being deceitful for selfish purposes only. Barabas, the Jewish protagonist, is extremely money hungry. He could care less about the morality and the wrongness of his deceit. He makes his own daughter pretend
to convert to Christianity and join the convent just so she can smuggle out his gold. Abigal did participate in the trickery, but she was doing it for her father, not for herself. Abigal is perhaps the most honest and real character in the play. In the end she truly converts to Christianity. Barabas is so angry at Ferneze for trying to take his money that he plots to take revenge on him. He tricks Lodowick into thinking that Abigal, his daughter, wants to marry him. Mathias,...
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