The Changeling

Definition

Theater

  • A tragedy by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley.It was first performed in 1622 in London but not published until 1653.The plot is based on John Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murther(1621). The main character is Beatrice, whose father, the governorof Alicant, orders her to marry Alonzo de Piracquo. Before the wedding,however, she falls for a visiting nobleman, Alsemero, and arrangesfor the ugly servant De Flores to murder Alonzo. When this is accomplishedshe offers him gold but, to her disgust, De Flores demands her instead:"Can you weep Fate from its determined purpose?" he asksher. "So soon may you weep me." Beatrice submits and subsequentlymarries Alsemero. To disguise the fact that she is not a virgin, shehas her maid take her place on the wedding night. Although De Floresmurders the maid to prevent exposure, he and Beatrice are overheardconferring and brought before the governor; De Flores mortally woundsBeatrice before committing suicide.

    The play's title comes from the comic subplot (written byRowley) in which Antonio and Franciscus pretend to be changelings(madmen) in order to make advances to Isabella, wife of the doctorof a lunatic asylum.

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