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Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta opens with a Prologue delivered by the Machiavellian "Machevil. " But in what sense is Marlowe's play Machiavellian? The Machiavellianism of the play appears in two ways: Firstly, the action of the play exposes the distance between what human beings say and what they do, and shows us the ways in which professions of faith often accompany faithless deeds. Secondly, the play prompts us to respond to this wickedness not with tears or outrage but rather with laughter. In his Prologue to the play, Machevil mocks us by describing the play as a "tragedy"; in fact, Machevil's mention oftragedy here serves to inoculate The Jew's audience against a tragic sensibility. The play's true Machiavellian achievement is convincing its audience not to condemn Machevil, but to laugh with him.

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