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.