The Changeling- Meghan Kingsley

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The first three acts of The Changeling, written by Thomas Middleton and William rowley, starts our slow and more detailed than the other revenge tragedies read this semester, such as Hamlet, or The Revenger’s Tragedy. The first act is mainly just getting to know the characters and their intertwined lives.  Here you find out about Beatrice and all of her suitors.  She is betrothed to Alonzo but falls in love with Alsemero the second she meets him.  Alsemero is clearly in love with Beatrice, but understands she is betrothed to Alonso.  By the second act, Alsemero decides to fight for Beatrice’s love the noble way- a duel.  Unknowingly to Alsemero, Beatrice plans on getting rid of Alono herself-well with the help of De Flores, her father’s servant.  He secretly loves her, but she loathes him. She decides to use his feelings for her to her advantage.  She plays on his emotions and uses them to convince him to kill Alonso for her.  He, filled with idea of having her to himself, is more than eager to murder for her.

Alongside this plot of Beatrice and her suitors, there is a second plot.  This follows Alibius, a doctor of the madhouse and Antonio, who is described as “the Changeling.” Alibius talks to Lollio about his younger wife who he wants to keep hidden away from all others.

The difference between this revenge tragedy and some of the others, is that the reader, from the beginning, is totally enveloped in the lives of the characters.  Revenge is not immediately introduced or evident.  Although murder and revenge is expected, the play is enjoyable to read and the reader is easily interested to see which direction the tragedy goes.  It also differs in showing a female character that has more control and power than a usual depicted female.  Beatrice is not the innocent and honorable woman figure as most tragedies try to show.

In the upcoming acts, it will be interesting to see if the two plots intertwine or if the title has a meaning for both plots.

The Malcontent – Melissa Walsh

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The play, “The Malcontent” by John Marston is about Giovanni Altofronto being disguised as Malevole and planning his revenge against the duke, Pietro. Women are a main part of the play as there are many women characters with important roles. However, many male characters do not consider women to be good, like in many Renaissance plays.

Mendoza has a moment where he talks about what he thinks about women. He says that: “Their words are feigned, their eyes forged, their sights / dissembled, their looks counterfeit, their hair false, their / given hopes deceitful, their very breath artificial” (Act I, Scene VI, l. 90-2). Mendoza believes that there is nothing real about women; their appearances are all fake and cannot be trusted. He thinks that they want to trick people and also never tell the truth, like their appearances.

Aurelia, the wife of the duke, decides to have an affair with Ferneze. She tells Ferneze: “I will be sick instantly and take physic; / therefore, in depth of night visit -“ (Act I, Scene VI, l. 50-1) This portrays her as betraying her husband and for having desires outside of her marriage. She is an example that women can be unfaithful, which depicts women in a negative light.

After Aurelia is discovered to be cheating by her husband, she talks to Mendoza. She tells Mendoza: “Instantly, before he casts a plot, / Or further blaze my honour’s much-known blot, / Let’s murder him” (Act II, Scene V, l. 75-7). If Aurelia were truly sorry for her unfaithfulness, she would kill herself like the women in “The Revenger’s Tragedy” and “A Woman Killed With Kindness.” Instead, she wants to kill her husband so that she will still live. This depicts her as a terrible woman because she again is betraying her husband.

When Malevole talks to Bilioso before he leaves to be ambassador in Florence, Malevole warns him about leaving his wife at home. Malevole suggests that: “With potent example, impudent custom, / Enticed by that great bawd, Opportunity; Thus being prepared, clap to her easy ear” (Act III, Scene III, l. 44-6). Malevole describes that if Bilioso leaves his wife at home, his wife will most likely cheat on him. This again is another portrayal of women as unfaithful people.

When Pietro is being entertained, he makes a suggestion to the Page. He asks: “Sing of the nature of women, and then the song shall be / surely full of variety…” (Act III, Scene IV, l. 30-1). Pietro is suggesting that women are a source of entertainment for men. Women are seen as an object, like in other Renaissance plays.

The portrayal of women in Renaissance plays is usually never positive, unless the woman is a virtuous one. As the play continues, we will see if Aurelia’s plot comes to fruition.