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THE CHANGELING - DISCUSSION

FEMINISM

• The Women’s Rights Movement, begun in the late


nineteenth century, kicked into high gear in 1960s
and 1970s where the battle for equal treatment,
especially in the workplace, brought great gains for
women while misogynistic paranoia lashed back as
the accepted family order began to disappear.
FEMINISM
FEMINISM

• This fear of female agency, sexual or otherwise, is


also a major obsession in Jacobean drama and ties
the two eras together.
• A sea-change from patriarchal ideals (strict rules and
distinct gender roles) to more matriarchal ones
(cooperation and female self-determination) mark
both periods and whipped up a similar sense of
excitement and anxiety.
FEMINISM

• In a society that struggles to understand a new role


for women we see dangerous heroines come to the
fore.
• These are not the mothers and faithful wives of
Shakespeare, but the imagined nightmare visions
that drive Othello and Leontes into madness made
reality.
FEMINISM
FEMINISM

• While even a villain like Lady Macbeth controls her


husband from within the classic husband–wife
dynamic, the women in Jacobean plays shatter that
paradigm, opting to reinvent their roles as sexual
and political beings.
FEMINISM

• The greatest fear they inspire is that they don’t


actually need men at all, that they can go alone if
need be.
• It’s no wonder that actresses since the ‘rebirth’ of
the Jacobean play consider these roles to be among
the choicest in the Western cannon.
• Why play a victim like Desdemona or Ophelia when
one could go down in righteous flames as Beatrice,
or the Duchess of Malfi?
FEMINISM

• The greatest fear they inspire is that they don’t


actually need men at all, that they can go alone if
need be.
• It’s no wonder that actresses since the ‘rebirth’ of
the Jacobean play consider these roles to be among
the choicest in the Western cannon.
• Why play a victim like Desdemona or Ophelia when
one could go down in righteous flames as Beatrice,
or the Duchess of Malfi?
FEMINISM
FEMINISM

• Just as in Jacobean tragedy, these women burn too


hot for the world they live in and often come to bad
ends or are at least chastened and set back on the
‘right track’.
• Whether that’s a sign of the basically repressive
nature of both eras or a deployment of the classic
tragic form (i.e. arrogance before a fall) is open to
argument.
IDEAS

• The Changeling’s horrorific scenes will not prevent


us from identifying with guilty, scheming Beatrice-
Joanna, or from imagining what De Flores would be
like as a lover.
• Middleton added to his source the bad skin and
‘dogface’ that at some level attracts Beatrice as
much as it repels her, and, more importantly, makes
it clear from what De Flores says that his name
matches his belief in defloration as the
quintessential form of sexual possession.
INTERNAL/EXTERNAL DEFORMITY –
CORRUPTION

à RIII

REPULSION/ATTRACTION
FOILS
• Although some critics have despised the madhouse
plot, others have been sensitive to the parallel-with-
difference structure, whereby Isabella’s successful
resistance of her two disguised suitors and the
leering warder Lollio is the normative foil
(contrapunto) to Beatrice-Joanna’s betrayals.
MADHOUSE
• It seems obvious that the madness and folly which
are literal in the hospital plot metaphorically indict
the behaviour of all the castle-plot characters.
CHANGELINGS

• The two plots explicitly converge in the last scene,


where Alsemero explicates the play’s title by listing
the ‘changes’ or exchanges they have witnessed
• Beatrice-Joanna into a whore
• De Flores into a murderer
• Diaphanta for her mistress in the nuptial bed
• Tomazo the avenger into a reasonable person
ALSEMERO BY TOM HIDDLESTON
http://hiddlestoners.com/career/stage/the-changeling-2006/

LISTEN TO THE MP3 INTERVIEW!


CREATIVE WRITING

• If you had to write a film/TV adaptation of The


Changeling for contemporary audiences, how would
you do it?
• Setting
• Characters
• Background
• Time period
• Cuts/Changes