“The Changeling”

I wondered what the title really meant for this play as I was reading through the scenes. I recognized that Antonio was listed as ‘the changeling’ in the cast list but from what I perceived, he was a minor character compared to Beatrice and De Flores. But it is clear by the end of the play that Antonio only serves as a faint parallel of the true changelings.

Beatrice’s working in cahoots with De Flores for their murder plotsĀ  may not seem like an unusual situation for a Jacobean drama. What makes this unique is the fact that they have completely different image between themselves and the world. There are many examples where a switch in emotions is seen in Beatrice and De Flores, like their relationship; Beatrice went from despising him to seeking out his company and De Flores in changing his view of Beatrice from infatuation to controlling.

While these are obvious observations I noticed that their personalities never really changed. I felt Beatrice remained a spoiled and indifferent character throughout the play, from picking and choosing who her husband would be to killing people just for the sake of her well being. She blamed others on her misdirection, such as De Flores and Alsemero, rather than herself. Also, De Flores remained a trickster and a person in control throughout the play, even to the point of suicide. It is understandable that emotions will change day in and day out but I personally didn’t feel that these two characters genuinely embody the definition of a “changeling.”

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2 Responses to “The Changeling”

  1. This is a subtle reflection. The exaggerated repetition of “change” in the play’s conclusion is Rowley’s. Middleton forces us to consider that we may all have a latent capacity for crime and sin. The circumstances in which Beatrice Joanna and De Flores find themselves provide the opportunity for them to realize what they already were, as Melissa suggests. Given the chance, we might all be playing barley break in hell.

  2. jl112805 says:

    I would suggest looking it as a change in the characters virtue, not so much attitude. In the beginning Alsemero compares Beatrice to Eve. This suggests she is a pure soul. As the play moves on she then taints her soul, with as you described “spoiled” actions. I agree that she seems like a spoiled brat, but I think the focus is more towards her moral change.

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