The Changeling by Thomas Middleton

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Thomas Middleton (1580-1627), a bricklayer's son, rose to become one of the most eminent playwrights of the Jacobean period. Along with Ben Johnson he helped shape the dynamic course of drama in Renaissance England. His range is broad, as his work successfully covers comedy, tragedy, and history. Praised during his life as well as today, Middleton remains relevant and influential. "The Changeling" (1630) was composed with the aid of Middleton's friend William Rowley, also an established playwright. The drama tells of the destructive powers of vice and lust. Beatrice-Joanna is a young woman betrothed to Alonzo de Piracquo, yet Beatrice-Joanna is truly in love with another—the nobleman Alsemero. Beatrice-Joanna uses manipulative and violent means to rid herself of her suitor Alsemero. The ensuing drama results in a catastrophic tragedy, leaving only a few to contemplate justice and passion. The characters, style, and action of "The Changeling" effortlessly come together, making it one of the greatest tragedies of its time.

About Thomas Middleton

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Middleton, who wrote in a wide variety of genres and styles, was a thoroughly professional dramatist. His comedies are generally based on London life but are seen through the perspective of Roman comedy, especially those of Plautus. Middleton is a masterful constructor of plots. "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" (1630) is typical of Middleton's interests. It is biting and satirical in tone: the crassness of the willing cuckold Allwit is almost frightening. Middleton was very preoccupied with sexual themes, especially in his tragedies, "The Changeling" (1622), written with William Rowley, and "Women Beware Women" (1621). The portraits of women in these plays are remarkable. Both Beatrice-Joanna in "The Changeling" and Bianca in "Women Beware Women" move swiftly from innocence to corruption, and Livia in "Women Beware Women" is noteworthy as a feminine Machiavelli and manipulator. In his psychological realism and his powerful vision of evil, Middleton is close to Shakespeare.
Published May 15, 2012 by 72 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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