Critical Essays

Below are four summaries of interesting articles I ran across in the preparation for this work. They all have information that might be useful to help develop characters. after each summary there is a link to download the PDF of the article if you are interested in reading the entire piece.

Revenge This link leads to an essay about revenge tragedies.

The Five Structures of The Changeling

By A. L. and M. K. Kistner

The Kistner’s describe five compositional structures in The Changeling that help to make the play a complete piece.
The first is the plot/subplot division. The subplot parallels and comments on the plot. In the plot there is a castle, the subplot an asylum. Both are ruled by people who defer their power, literally in the case of Ailibius, who hands power over to Lollio, and de facto in the case of Vermandero, who does little in the castle, while De Flores manages his affairs. The prize in both the castle and the asylum is a woman.

The second structure is the division of the world into madmen and fools, as seen in the asylum. The Kistner’s maintain that the division in the asylum is a division for the types of people the play sees in the world. They state that fools are harmless and curable and madmen are incurable and prone to violence.

The third device is verbal repetition Such words as Blood, service, sweetness, act, dead, performance and such images as of food and hunger, the castle, the madhouse, sight rings, animals, and jewels are repeated throughout the play. Sometimes the words are used in double entendre. The repetitions helps to drive the themes home to the audience.

Fourth structure is a person-by-person organization that compares the motives and actions of almost every character in the play. The major themes of the play, such as the necessity for man’s reason to curb passion, are shown in the character’s changes through the play. For example, both Tomazo and Anselmo let passion rule them, but return to reason by the end of the play, Where Beatrice and Diaphanta allow passion to rule them, and never recover their reason.

The final structure is the plays hierarchy of moral responsibility. This hierarchy organizes the characters of the play according to their moral obligations. Some characters, like Tomazo and Anselmero, temporarily stray from their moral obligations, and others, like Beatrice and Diaphanta fall into moral corruption, and others like Lollio and De Flores were always morally corrupt.

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The Closet Drama in The Changeling, V.III

By Joost Daalder

This article is concerned with what happens in the closet until De Flores and Beatrice enter on stage again. Daalder does a very in-depth analysis of the text to support his claim. He concludes that De Flores and Beatrice do have sex in the closet, that De Flores stabs Beatrice, and that de Flores stabs himself in the closet (his line “nay, I’ll along for company,” according to Daalder, is De Flores stating his intention to follow Beatrice in death. Daalder maintains that the wounded De Flores gives himself in the closet is not enough for a quick death, and when Vermandero calls for further tortures he stabs himself again to finish the job.

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Hypallage, Barley-break and The Changeling

By: Ann Pasternak Slater

Slater’s article deals with the title of The Changeling, and how certain characters fit into a certain definition of the word, specifically the rhetorical figure of the hypallage. A Hypallage is close to a spoonerism, save that whole words, not letters, change place. For example: I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy is a spoonerism, as the sounds of “bottle in front of me’ are changed to make a “frontal lobotomy.” “Tell me truth and lie not, lie me truth and tell no” is a hypallage, the words are rearranged to make the clause say something else. Primarily Slater is interested in the hypallages where opposing ideas are paired, like “lie me truth.”

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Beatrice-Joanna and the Rhetoric of Love in The Changeling
By Sara Eaton

Eaton examines how Beatrice displays the two extremes of courtly love, the idealized woman she plays for Alsemero, and the self-degraded woman she is for De Flores. Eaton looks at how Middleton and Rowley use the rhetoric of Court love to expose Beatrice’s contradictions. Eaton tracks the use of asides through the first four acts. The asides are used by the characters to hide their true feelings from the characters on stage, while revealing them to the audience. Eaton is interested in showing how both the private language, and the public language center around the possession, and repression, of females.

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